Brazil’s new government loses key minister to Rousseff scandal

Brazil’s interim government has been rocked by the loss of one of its key figures, Planning Minister Romero Juca, who stepped aside amid accusations he had conspired to obstruct the country’s biggest-ever corruption investigation. Interim President Michel Temer was counting on Juca, a close confidant and experienced senator, to steer a budget bill through Congress to avoid a government shutdown next month. Juca was caught on tape allegedly conspiring to obstruct the country’s biggest-ever corruption investigation. In the tapes, leaked by a newspaper, he appears to talk of stopping the probe at oil giant Petrobras by impeaching suspended President Dilma Rousseff.

There is nothing wrong in being investigated - there is something wrong in being charged. I have never done anything to complicate the investigation.

Romero Juca

Temer said in a statement that Juca would support the government from the Senate to ensure that the budget and other reforms were passed. 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 series of economic measures in Congress aimed at rescuing investor confidence in the slumping Brazilian economy. New Finance Minister Henrique Meirelles will announce on Tuesday some of those measures to include limits to public spending to close a widening fiscal gap that cost Brazil its coveted investment-grade rating.

Juca is gone, but the trail of the recordings remain … and will serve as the fuel to further ignite the movements that will take to the streets against Temer.

Eliane Cantanhede, political columnist