Watergate: How Nixon's downfall impacted the
the World’ (Estadao, Brazil)
regimes - even non-democratic ones - learned a lot from it. … This demonstrates
the power of American institutions. … . If Brazilian institutions had had the
strength, seriousness and speed that American institutions have, the Big Monthly
Payment scandal would have brought down President Lula. … they [U.S.
institutions] imposed themselves on the interests and dangers of the time. He
(Nixon) ended up resigning, but only after seeing that he had no way out.”
Lohbauer, Professor of International Relations at the
University of São Paulo
Translated By Brandi
June 16, 2012
– Estadao – Original Article (Portuguese)
SÃO PAULO: The Watergate case was so renowned that it
became a screenplay for the film All the
President’s Men in 1976, which won four Oscar statuettes the following
year. The production, based on a book of the same name by Bob Woodward and Carl
Bernstein, tells the story of two journalists who uncover a network of espionage
and money laundering (Woodward and Bernstein themselves).
Published in the Washington Post, two years and two
months later the story led to the resignation of then-President Richard Nixon.
The Watergate case was “the biggest scandal of its time, and one of the biggest
in modern history,” in the opinion of defense journalist Roberto Godoy, who
closely followed coverage of the case in the newspaper O Estado de Sao Paulo
precisely 40 years ago.
Professor of International Relations and member of the International
Outlook Group [Grupo de Conjuntura
Internacional] at the University of São Paulo, Cristian Lohbauer, believes the world changed after the impeachment of the
American president. “All democratic regimes - even non-democratic ones -
learned a lot from it,” he said, referring to the scandal.
Lohbauer ventures to say that the trials
that occurred with former Brazilian Venezuela Presidents Fernando Collor (1990-92) and Carlos Andrés
Pérez (1989-93) may never have had an appropriate
legal path to follow had there not been international jurisprudence to base it
on, despite how different the situations were.
‘Moral and sociological’
For Cristina Pecequilo, Professor
of International Relations at the Federal University of São Paulo, the impact
of Watergate on the world is more moral and sociological than practical.
According to her, later legislative changes that were an attempt to prohibit abuses
of power had little practical effect, as the issues continue to be handled from
a political point of view - not a legal one.
SEE ALSO ON THIS:
Der Tagesspiegel, Germany: Barack Obama Must 'Take a Stand'
Le Monde, France: Over 200 Years On, Washington is Still 'Broken'
Le Devoir, Canada: Experts, Crooks and the American Media
La Tribuna, Honduras: Nixon Visits Honduras
Liberation, France: 'Deep Throat' Comes Out: Man Who Brought Down Nixon
But although she questions how many practical changes
resulted, Cristina points to a moral crisis without precedent, which had an
impact on the election that followed the Watergate scandal. She considers Jimmy
Carter, who took office in January 1977, as a different type of
candidate altogether. “He came to moralize political
discourse on all of these issues,” she says.
The unexpected result of the election was a reflection of
the disappointment of people who had elected Nixon to a second term by a huge
margin. “It’s something that hit the United States at time of great difficulty,
and society was marked by it. People had voted for Nixon and were suddenly confronted
with this great deception,” she says.
The first impeachment
According to Lohbauer, with this backdrop
of high popularity and with the risk of a president falling at the height of
the Cold War, the impeachment of an American leader became the first and most
important in the history of the democratic world. For the professor, this shows
the power of American institutions. “They imposed themselves on the interests
and dangers of the time. He (Nixon) ended up resigning, but only after seeing that
he had no way out,” he said.
Lohbauer compared Watergate to the
Big Monthly Payment scandal [mensalão], which was a scheme for buying and selling
votes that created the biggest political crisis suffered by the Lula
government. “The Big Monthly Payment scandal was a case for impeachment. If
Brazilian institutions had had the strength, seriousness and speed that
American institutions have, the president would have fallen,” wagers the
professor. Cristina compared Watergate to the
Collor case, which brought down the former
president in 1992, after allegations of political corruption emerged involving
campaign treasurer Paulo César Farias. The allegations were made by the president’s
brother, Pedro Collor de Mello. “In terms of content,
this is the most similar. He [Collor] is a reference point for corruption and the abuse
of power and position in general,” she said.
For the specialists, Watergate was a great example for the rest
of the world - and it shook up U.S. politics, known for being an uninterruptable
democracy. Lohbauer describes the outcome of the
democratic world’s first impeachment as a striking historical snapshot, “almost
grotesque.” After his resignation, President Richard Nixon rose up in front of
the presidential helicopter, turned to photographers and made a victory sign.
“He’s the traditional politician: he left as if nothing unusual had happened,
and following legal procedure, the vice president took over.”
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