Every "revolution" has it: the moment when the sequence of events unleashed by the initial decision ultimately boomerangs and takes down the very people who started the revolution. In Brazil, that would be the powerful former speaker of Brazil's lower house, Eduardo Cunha, who spearheaded the ouster of President Dilma Rousseff, and who almost singlehandedly ushered in Michel Temer into the presidential office. Alas, for Cunha the "game of thrones" now appears to be over after he himself was arrested early on Wednesday as part of a sprawling graft probe involving state oil giant Petrobras.
As a reminder, Cunha initiated impeachment proceedings against Rousseff in December when he was speaker of the Chamber of Deputies. That led to a Senate vote to remove her from office in August.
Cunha, who until recently was a key ally of new President Temer, was accused of corruption, money laundering and tax evasion related to an oilfield purchase that Petrobras made in 2011 in the west African nation of Benin. Prosecutors said in a statement that they requested Cunha's detention on the grounds that he represented a threat to the integrity of the investigation and was a flight risk. They also asked for bank accounts he holds totaling some $60 million to be frozen.
Cunha was arrested in the capital, Brasilia, and was then put on a plane to the southern city of Curitiba, where Judge Sergio Moro is presiding over many of the Petrobras cases.
Brazil's former Lower House President Eduardo Cunha, center,
is escorted by federal police
The ex-speaker, who some suggested pushed on with the Rouseff impeachment to avoid a probe into his own affairs, faces multiple ongoing investigations and has been accused of accepting millions of dollars in bribes for himself and other politicians. He denies the allegations.
In a dramatic example of how most revolutions end up devouring their own, Cunha was first forced to resign as speaker in July. Then, last month he was stripped of his congressional seat, and also the legal protections against prosecution that come with elected office in Brazil.
Realizing the end may be near, Cunha then began publicly criticizing Temer, his erstwhile ally, and Cabinet officials. He announced he would write a tell-all book about the impeachment with the first excerpts to be published in November. That was his last mistake.
According to AP, analysts have said that if Cunha cooperates with prosecutors, he could potentially bring down others in the Petrobras case and create more headaches for the government. If that happens, it will likely mean that the political crisis in Brazil will be back front and center, and this time attention will refocus on Temer, whose own involvement in the Petrobras, and other scandals, is well known to the local population. Who knows: Temer may even get a triumphal return as a result of this ongoing clash between Brazil's "revolutionaries."
Following the arrest, Temer's office said the president had cut short a trip to Japan and was expected to be back in Brasilia on Friday.