Brazil's GDP shrinks, millions of jobs lost due to lawfare


The Lava Jato operation, also known as "operation car wash," which led to the unjust imprisonment of former Brazilian president Lula da Silva, was recently declared illegitimate due to the lack of impartiality of investigative judge Sergio Moro. This was after a Brazilian court on 8 March cleared da Silva of all criminal convictions stemming from the case. 

However, the impact of the operation is devastating. According to a study by the Inter-union Department of Socio-Economic Studies (DIEESE), the Lava-Jato operation paralysed construction projects throughout Brazil and deindustrialized the country. It caused the loss of 4.4 million jobs, including 1.1 million construction jobs, and contributed to the country’s GDP to dip to 3.6 percent. 

The operation also damaged the credibility of Brazil’s presidential elections, with many trade unionists calling it a massive lawfare unleashed against Da Silva and workers’ organisations to influence the outcome of the country’s electoral system. 


In a statement last 10 March, da Silva said that the Lava-Jato operation could have stopped corruption and imprisoned those responsible for the crime while allowing the companies to operate. “That never happened. The criminalisation of the country’s engineering companies also had a regional impact that contributed to conservative political changes in other Latin American and Caribbean countries,” he said. 

Operation Car Wash was a criminal investigation by the Federal Police of Brazil, Curitiba Branch. It began in March 2014 and was initially headed by Moro, and in 2019 by Judge Luiz Antônio Bonat. The investigation included da Silva in what many observers believe was done to prevent his Workers’ Party (PT) from winning the 2018 elections. 

With Brazil on the brink of collapse as a result of an uncontained pandemic that has already killed 266,000 citizens and a record-high unemployment rate, COVID-9 economic recovery will be a central issue in the 2022 presidential polls.