The Brazil narrative of crisis and collapse has reached a fevered pitch: Zika, pollution in the bay, economic recession, and what may be the world’s largest corruption investigation. But this now-fashionable refrain misses a deeper and more compelling story.
Brazil is building for itself an Olympic legacy, one that almost nobody outside Brazil is noticing. And in so doing, the country is redefining that oft-used phrase. We typically think of legacy in purely economic terms: we determine the costs of preparing for and hosting the Games, and weigh them against anticipated economic benefits such as tourism revenue and the long-term value of infrastructure investments.
The resulting number, all too often is not gold or silver but red: hosts lose money, which is why so many cities (including Boston) have lately withdrawn their candidacies.
But Brazil has built a different kind of legacy: a governance legacy. On the eve of hosting the Olympic Games (and the FIFA World Cup) the Brazilian congress has completely reshaped the anti-corruption legal landscape. It enacted four separate laws, which I will call the four pillars of Brazil’s governance legacy. And it did so in direct response to public protests about corruption and poor governance. It’s a success story for democracy, the rule of law, and the global anti-corruption movement.
These laws, taken together, plainly make Brazil a place where corruption is less tolerated and more severely punished. The scandals we now read about are not evidence of a state in decline; far from it. Rather, they show us how well these new laws actually work.
In a series of posts, I’ll briefly explain each of the four pillars: the 2011 procurement reforms, the 2011 freedom of information law, the 2013 Clean Companies Act, and the 2013 criminal enforcement law. And we’ll let the record speak for itself.
If I have piqued your interest, see our ebook, videos, and other resources at law.richmond.edu/olympics.
Andy Spalding is a Senior Editor of the FCPA Blog and Associate Professor at the University of Richmond School of Law. He’s the author of the e-book Olympic Anti-Corruption Report: Brazil and the Rio 2016 Games (available here). He’ll be a speaker at the FCPA Blog NYC Conference 2016.