Watergate ‘Changed the World’ (Estadao, Brazil)
In many ways, it was America’s finest hour, demonstrating to the world that in the United States, no one – even the president – is above the law. In this column from Brazil’s Estadao, on the 40th anniversary of the Watergate break-in, some of the country’s leading experts on the United States examine the scandal’s impact on Brazil and the globe.
For Estadao, reporter Bruna Ribeiro’s piece begins this way:
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.
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.
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