Last updated: February 19. 2013 7:05PM - 134 Views

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A POLITICAL corruption trial in Brazil that has riveted locals could end up enhancing, not battering, the country's global image. The judiciary's handling of the scandal known as the mensalao (or big monthly pay-out) has been admirable, and the Supreme Court has been independent enough to convict some of the country's most powerful former politicians and operatives from the Workers Party.

Former president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva's chief of staff received a 10-year jail term for his role in a vote-buying scheme in the Congress that dates back to 2003-04, and another man, the former president of the Workers Party, which is still in power, was sentenced to six years and 11 months in prison. Others face charges of corruption, conspiracy, embezzlement and misuse of public funds.

This judicial autonomy is a break from the past, and a sign of Brazil's democratic maturation. Former president Fernando Collor was impeached for corruption while in office, but went on to become a senator. Today, a law prevents convicted criminals from running for public office.

The case will help Brazil's aspirations to be a regional and global power, especially when one considers the ongoing challenges to good governance in neighboring Argentina.

The Globe and Mail, Toronto

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