RIO DE JANEIRO — There are times in Brazil’s young democracy — its constitution dates from 1988 — when the country seems to be making things up as it goes along.
This is one of them.
What began in 2014 as a police investigation called “Operation Car Wash” has spiraled into a horrendously dense drama, in which some of Brazil’s top politicians and largest companies have been forced into leading roles under harsh lights.
Since last year, an increasing number of accusations and counter-accusations have been whirling around state-controlled oil giant Petrobras and some of its top former executives — involving oil refineries, rig contracts, political parties, shadowy agents and middlemen, construction companies and cartels. Not to mention billions of dollars in payoffs and bribes.
As the scandal climbs higher up the political hierarchy, the more complex it feels and the more explosive reactions it causes.