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Someone released a bunch of rodents into Brazil's historic corruption hearings

Zack Beauchamp is a senior correspondent at Vox, where he covers ideology and challenges to democracy, both at home and abroad. Before coming to Vox in 2014, he edited TP Ideas, a section of Think Progress devoted to the ideas shaping our political world.

Thursday was a big day for rodent-based protests in Brazil, where a man released a tiny, squeaking stampede onto the floor of an investigative hearing in Brazil's Congress.

According to Bloomberg, the animals were released when João Vaccari Neto, party treasurer for President Dilma Rousseff's Workers Party, showed up to testify before a congressional committee that is investigating allegations of corruption at state-owned oil producer Petroleo Brasileiro SA (Petrobras).

Rats at a corruption hearing

It was not clear precisely what message the protester intended to send by releasing the animals, which have been variously reported as including ratshamsters, and gerbilsHowever, rats are hardly considered to be symbols of honesty and trustworthiness, and  the hearing was to investigate a massive corruption scandal that has implicated the Workers Party and its allies.

Investigators have identified approximately $3.7 billion in suspicious payments at Petrobras, the state-run oil company, making this Brazil's biggest corruption scandal ever. A fair number of politicians have been implicated in the scandal since last March, when Petrobras's former head of refining tipped off the authorities to the widespread corruption after he was arrested for money laundering.

The scandal has been a major problem for Brazil's embattled president, Dilma Rousseff, and has helped fuel widespread protests against her presidency.


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