Project Corruption and Trust in Brazil: a discussion on Ethics, Equality and Law through the "Mensalão" Case

Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs

Ethics Fellows For The Future



Corruption and Trust in Brazil: a discussion on Ethics, Equality and Law through the “Mensalão” Case



Global Ethics Fellow Fernanda Duarte

EFF Gabriel G. S. Lima de Almeida


Introduction: In the current year, Brazil watched the Trial of the Criminal case nº 470, known as “Mensalão”, where lots of politicians were condemned for corruption crimes. The ”Mensalão” (a neologism for "big monthly payment") was big scandal, where was found a vote-buying scheme on Brazilian National Congress. This was a historical episode of Brazilian politics, and also of Brazilian Law: the Federal Supreme Court has convicted  25 persons, politicians and others, for crimes of corruption.

This Project aims to bring up reflections regarding the characteristics of the Brazilian Law that affects the notion that everyone is “equal before the Law”, using this historical case as example, and the implications of those issues have on the field of Ethics and Public Trust.


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Demographic Data

These questions aim to compose an analysis of the public of the research, relating to the answers on the theme "Ethics, Politics and the “Mensalão” Trial". No personal data will be revealed, and the responses are anonymous and unidentified.

  1. What is your gender?
  2. How old are you?
  3. What is your highest/in progress level of education?
  4. What is your mother's highest level of education?
  5. What is your father's highest level of education?
  6. In what field do you currently work in?
  7. How many hours do you work per week?

Ethics, Politics and the “Mensalão” Trial

These are specific questions regarding the theme "Ethics, Politics and the “Mensalão” Trial"

  1. Is there a contradiction between Politics and Ethics
  2. How do you define corruption? How is corruption perceived in your society?
  3. What is unique to your society or culture that makes combating corruption difficult?
  4. What societal values are important in a political system to prevent corruption? Who is accountable? Are individual actors or institutions to be blamed?
  5. Do you think that “Mensalão” Trial changed the way Brazil deals with Corruption? Why?
  6. In Brazil “everyone is equal before the law”. Do you agree with that sentence? Why, or why not?
  7. Do you believe that Brazilian Law has the tools to prevent and punish Corruption? If yes, can you say which ones? If no, what do you think can be improved?
  8. Do you think “Mensalão” Trial is a model of well succeeded criminal trial? Why, or why not?

The Focus Group proposal: In order to answer that questions and explore these topics, a Focus Group composed of undergraduate and postgraduate students will work on “Mensalão” Case and the Ethical issues and political practices regarding corruption and the Brazilian Law and answer the selected questions, by supervision of the Global Fellow Fernanda Duarte. This Group is composed from students from our Home institutions, Federal Fluminense University and Estácio de Sá University, specically from the Laboratório Fluminense de Estudos Processuais – LAFEP-FD/UFF and the Núcleo de Estudos sobre Direito, Cidadania, Processo e Discurso – UNESA.

The Group will also apply the questionnaire with the selected questions to undergraduate and post-graduate students in our in order to produce a relevant amount of data.

An event in one of our Home institutions will be organized by the Group, and it will consist on a round-table where experts would discuss “Mensalão” case and the topics of Ethics and Corruption, giving their thoughts about it; and  where members of the Focus Group will expose the findings of the Group’s activities; followed then of a dialogue with the audience, composed of undergraduate and post-graduate students. A report of the event will be posted on the EFF Gabriel Almeida´s Blog on Global Ethics Network, as the Carnegie Mission in Brazil.

The final part of the project consists in producing a short paper that summarizes the findings, discussions and researches held by the Focus Group. Finally that data and that short paper could be used as a contribution to Professor Ignatieff’s research, related to the Carnegie Council Centennial.

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Tags: GEF, GEN, democracy, education, ethics


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