Brazil's Planning Minister Romero Juca said on Monday he will temporarily step down after a newspaper published recordings of him discussing plans to obstruct the country's biggest-ever corruption investigation, which includes him among its targets.
Juca's decision to take a leave from his post to defend himself is a huge blow for Interim President Michel Temer, who counted on the experienced senator to secure legislative support for key economic measures and reforms.
The new scandal also raises fears of further political instability in Brazil less than two weeks after President Dilma Rousseff was suspended to stand trial in the Senate for allegedly breaking fiscal laws.
Starting from tomorrow, I will step aside, Juca told a huddle of reporters in the capital Brasilia, following a day of feverish speculation about his political future.
In recorded comments made before Rousseff was suspended and published by newspaper Folha de S. Paulo on Monday, Juca told an ally he agreed on the need for a national pact to circumscribe the probe known as Operation Car Wash.
Asked for help by a friend and former senator under investigation in the probe, Jucá replied, The government has to be changed in order to stop this bleeding.
Juca and other ministers in Temer's new government are under investigation for their participation in a massive graft scheme at state-run oil company Petrobras.
At a press conference earlier on Monday, Juca voraciously defended himself. He said what was published was taken out of context and denied he was trying to interfere with the investigation into Petrobras.
A trained economist with over 20 years in the Senate, Juca was a key member of Temer's new economic team that is racing to approve a new fiscal target this week to avoid a government shutdown in June.
Juca was seen as a crucial negotiator to approve a series of economic measures in Congress aimed at rescuing investors' confidence in the once-booming Brazilian economy.
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Its as I feared. The reason for the impeachment was to kill Lava Jato. Dilma was its only protector.May 25th, 2016 - 02:40 am 0
Now we have a situation where it is the Mob who is in charge:
Whichever way one looks at it; The Investigation will turn out to be a farce - a joke!May 25th, 2016 - 03:18 pm 0
”Brazil’s interim government is orchestrating a stunning transfer of power to the country’s elites. by Sabrina FernandesMay 27th, 2016 - 06:03 pm 0
The Temer Agenda
The new minister of agriculture, Blairo Maggi, is directly responsible for rainforest deforestation and the denial of indigenous rights. Maggi is probably the only choice worse than Kátia Abreu, who held the post under Rousseff and represented the agribusiness association.
His minister of justice is Alexandre de Moraes. As secretary of public security in the state of São Paulo, Moraes encouraged police violence against high-school students protesting school closures.
Meanwhile, the new health minister, Ricardo Barros, has taken as his mission the dismantlement of Brazil’s universal health care program (SUS) and the empowerment of private health care providers. He insists that universal right to health care as established in the 1988 Brazilian constitution is un-deliverable.
The federal police and Judge Sérgio Moro’s Lava Jato investigation has stalled, and Supreme Court Justice Gilmar Mendes has shelved every complaint against Aécio Neves, the PSDB politician who ran against Rousseff in 2014 and is accused of taking bribes from the state-owned electricity company, Furnas.”