“We do not bribe. If you want any, please do not call”

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Rio de Janeiro engineering company warns in its ads that it refuses requests for bribes

The Barbosa brothers tell that they do not stick queues and they get angry when they see a friend put some notinhas in the waiter’s pocket to obtain a differentiated treatment. They are also shocked when they hear of someone finding a cell phone on the floor and storing it quickly so as not to return it. The same when, in a party offered by them, they notice that a guest paid the service to serve him more shrimp. “The corruption is from the bakery to the butcher’s shop,” they lament. Barbosa’s commitment to not take shortcuts comes from the cradle and turned north of the company they play together in Rio de Janeiro, a well-known engineering office dedicated to the maintenance of buildings and facades. The posters hung in each of the buildings where they work warn: “Stanley does not tip. If you want, please do not call. ” But some people call.

When what should be normal ends up being a prominent exception on a poster, there are those who may regret the point that Brazil has reached today. But the Barbosa warning has been printed on every board of the company for more than 20 years, long before the country came to grips with Janot’s lists, such as the one released on Tuesday, involving government and opposition politicians. Corruption is not of today, they reinforce. What Stanley and Ricardo tell about this microworld of civil construction, in which engineers, syndics and neighboring communities live together, has much to do with Brazil today. Bribes and cartels between companies in the industry, they say, are common, cause job overload and end up benefiting the old ones. There are no codenames to refer to trustees, as with deputies and ministers involved in the Lava-Jet, but rather euphemisms for insinuating the bribe to be added in the budget: “liking”, “technical reserve”, “commission “…

Stanley, 62, recalls the day he decided to stop the flow of calls and indecent proposals two decades ago. “It was the last straw,” he says. He had received a trustee from a large building in Botafogo who had already praised the company to announce, shortly afterwards, that the residents had decided to delegate the work to Barbosa. Grateful, Stanley spent an hour showing the trustee the premises of the company, then in Copacabana, to please him and convey confidence, until finally the visitor fired: “And what ‘spare’ do you leave for me?” The engineer did not understand, but at the time the trustee was more explicit Stanley decided to stop and institutionalize the good practices. At that time, Brother Ricardo, 67, had experienced the same embarrassment. “I went to Niterói with an engineer hired by the building to pay for a work and when I was there, doing the work, he asked me to put a 10% more for him. We were disappointed, “recalls Ricardo.

The rigor caused them to lose customers, as a million-dollar work in a building in the Recreio neighborhood, a tasty contract for any company in the industry, but conditioned to a 10% “technical reserve” for the liquidator. The brothers argue that at least they save the time they spend in doing surveys and budgets and then have to say “no”. “At first there was a discomfort at the warning, but I think it came from precisely who was in it. Honest people came to look for us more. If before, of 10 works they asked for bribes in four, now of 10 we only have one with that request “, explains Stanley, the most talkative of the brothers. “If they still take advantage despite the warning? There’s always someone who does not read, “jokes the engineer, evangelical and fan of Judge Sérgio Moro -” he gives the youth the idea that crime does not pay. “

The Barbosa, who have in the curriculum the reform and maintenance of more than 3,000 facades, do not work with the Government, in any sphere. They say that by choice. “We know that it is very difficult to get contracts if it is not with an agreement behind. We’re not going to be romantic, we know that what we see in the media today has always happened, “says Stanley, who says he has seen the parents of his children’s friends coming to prison on corruption scandals.

Children of a military man and a public defender, the Barbosa read with disgust the daily newspaper headlines. Of the corrupt plot that former governor Sergio Cabral sewn up by charging tips from companies that worked for the Government to the list of those involved in the Odebrecht scheme. Stanley, who says he has not left and has not missed an anti-corruption rally, sees an opportunity. “It’s an odd, excellent situation, and the country can turn the corruption page. It’s an expensive price because there’s a lot of unemployment, but we’ve never seen people with so many millions in the accounts being arrested. “

The Barbosa, however, do not find themselves odd – “there are many more honest people than dishonest” – but warn that the “biggest error and defect of the Brazilian is to be silent.” Ricardo, in an attempt to illustrate the way back from corruption, resorts to the construction site: “In the end, it’s not just a tip. Whoever is corrupted does not hesitate to put lime in the ink. “

Source: EL PAÍS