Deputy for the PDT, Juruna became known for recording “everything white people say” – Photo: Reproduction

This story of paying bribes in installments is not new today. The unusual thing is to return the bufunfa without being caught by the police at the time of delivery. This is what Mário Juruna, the first – and only – indigenous elected federal deputy in Brazil, did. On a Friday, October 26, 1984, Juruna displayed stacks of cash during a press conference he called in Brasília.

The sum was equivalent to about $10. According to the parliamentarian's account, it was the first of four installments he would receive to vote for the dictatorship's candidate, Paulo Maluf, in the indirect elections of January 1985. The other candidate, Tancredo Neves, represented the opposition. By that time, the direct elections amendment had been overturned in Congress.

According to Juruna's account, the first installment should be accompanied by a declaration of support for Maluf. The second would come as soon as he confirmed that he had 'gone crazy'. The other two installments would be paid the day before and the day after the vote. The arrangement had been made in a hotel in Brasília, with businessman Calim Eid, Maluf's campaign treasurer.

Juruna, who had become famous for always using a tape recorder “to record everything the white man says”, had difficulty dealing with money, measuring values. Still, he negotiated and received an amount of bills he couldn't even count. Later, he confessed the fraud to the sertanista José Porfírio Fontenele de Carvalho, of his adviser.

As Juruna had been elected by the PDT, the sertanista informed the party's leadership, stressing that the Xavante was determined to return the bribe as quickly as possible. For the sertanista, the ideal would be to deliver the money to the then Minister of Justice, Ibrahim Abi-Ackel, who would have to arrange an investigation into the purchase of votes.

Leonel Brizola, leader of the party, considered that the best thing would be to call an interview. It made noise. However, in the sequence, Calim Eid and Maluf denied everything. The bribe money was deposited into a businessman's account. In the following elections, Juruna tried, but was not reelected. He died poor and forgotten on the outskirts of Brasília, on July 17, 2002.

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