Another scandal is rocking Latin America, as evidence emerged that the Brazilian aircraft manufacturer Embraer bribed its way into the Dominican Republic, with the sale of Super Tucano aircraft being guaranteed after millions of dollars were paid in bribes to Dominican military officials and politicians.
|A narco-plane crisis created to justify buying Super Tucanos? WKM|
The Super Tucanos were purchased with the objective of protecting Dominican airspace from narco-planes, with some politicians demanding that the Air Force be given the power to shoot down any aircraft that entered Dominican airspace without authorization.
The oldest Dominican daily, Listin Diario, is reporting that Major General Pedro Rafael Peña Antonio, the former Minister of the Dominican Air Force, handed himself in to authorities in the Caribbean island after a court ordered that he be placed under arrest in order to facilitate an investigation into the allegations against him.
The same court also issued an arrest warrant for Colonel Carlos Piccini, who was implicated along with two Dominican industrialists in a scandal spanning the entire American continent and which has unseated a head of state, tarnished the reputation of a once-beloved political icon, and which has shaken the very trust of Latin America's citizens.
Beyond putting at risk the political stability of that largest nation in Latin America and its fastest-growing economy, the Super Tucano scandal has shed light on the tax haven of Jordan, where a Dominican senator is alleged to have created shell companies in order to facilitate the transfer of millions of dollars in bribes from Embraer.
According to the digital portal Acento, Dominican prosecutors have refused to reveal the identity of the senator involved, guarding his identity under the strictest of rules. Since Embraer is traded on the US Stock Exchange, it is subject to US law which prevents the bribing of foreign officials when it comes to securing contracts, thus meaning that the US government is likely aware of which Dominican senator was implicated in the bribery scandal.
|Former president personally negotiated in Brazil. Acento|
Considering the level of silence surrounding the identity of the senator, and the level of protection afforded to Colonel Piccini, it is likely that it is a powerful member of the ruling party, the PLD.
Although prosecutors in Brazil can afford to be tough on ruling politicians due to their solid backing by the powerful Federal Police, there's no such force protecting the Dominican Public Prosecutor's Office, especially as they take on the military, an institution which refused to suspend Colonel Piccini even as he was under investigation by three different countries.
Normally Dominican prosecutors would stay away from high-ranking army officials and congressmen, but since prosecutors in the United States and Brazil are providing evidence of corruption, their hand is forced by the international community and the people.
Although Brazil has merely plunged into a political crisis due to prosecutors unraveling a web of corruption at the highest-levels, the Dominican military may respond in the only way it knows: by creating an emergency which justifies their taking over the judiciary and suspending the rule of law.