Since March of 2014, when the first signs of a major money laundering and corruption scheme at Petrobras became evident, the Brazilian judicial system has been working overtime and the country’s overcrowded jails are bursting at the seams. Dozens of high executives, company owners and prominent politicians are serving sentences for their participation in a bribery operation, in which large contractors and service providers overcharged Petrobras for several years and deposited the difference in offshore accounts of the governing party (PT), to oil the party machinery and personally enrich their leaders. But until recently, most Brazilians felt that the real “big fish” were getting away with impunity. That changed dramatically on April 4, when judge Sergio Moro issued an arrest warrant to former President Luiz Ignacio Lula Da Silva.
When regional Catalonian president Carles Puigdemont read the unilateral declaration of independence from Spain approved by the region’s Parliament on October 27, the whole of Europe held its breath. What started as an intramural dispute for political control in Spain, rapidly evolved into the country’s gravest constitutional crisis since the 1930s and Europe’s latest threat to economic and political stability. Just hours before Catalonia’s move, the Spanish Senate had approved the application of article 155 of the constitution that allows the central Government to take direct control of the rebellious region, and Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy had called for fresh elections in Catalonia. How did we get here? Was all of this necessary? Who is to blame? On whose side is history? And, most importantly, what next?