A historic anti-corruption wave is sweeping across much of Latin America. Its hero is a federal judge in Brazil named Sergio Moro - and he got a hero’s welcome on Thursday in the so-called capital of Latin America: Miami.
Moro got a standing ovation at the University of Miami before he even started speaking. That’s because he's been the key force behind the unprecedented prosecution of scores of powerful Brazilian politicians and executives in recent years.
Moro’s speech, co-sponsored by the UM law school, offered a frightening look at how deeply systemic and brazen corruption is in Brazil. Especially the “Lava Jato” (Operation Car Wash) case he’s directed – involving billions of dollars of bribes focused on Brazil’s state oil firm, Petrobras, as well as Brazilian construction companies like the giant Odebrecht.
In fact, Moro said, one of his prosecution targets included a senator assigned to look into Lava Jato graft for Brazil’s Congress. The senator "instead requested bribes from people being investigated."
“Corruption uncovered in Brazil is shameful, no doubt," Moro said. "But efforts of many Brazilians have brought these crimes to light...There is no shame in the enforcement of the law.”
Moro said he believes that idea is finally taking hold in Brazil and elsewhere in Latin America – where even presidents are now resigning or facing prison terms because of corruption, some in cases involving Odebrecht's international bribery web.
“Maybe the age of Brazilian robber barons is coming to an end," Moro said. "And there is a kind of anti-corruption wave in Latin America.”
Earlier this month, popular former Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva also went to jail in another case led by Moro.