December 1989 Following three decades of military rule and political transition, Fernando Collor de Mello of the conservative National Renewal Party (PRN-Partido da Renovação Nacional) wins the first direct presidential election in 29 years, defeating Luiz Ignácio Lula da Silva of the Workers' Party (PT-Partido dos Trabalhadores).
June 1992 Congress forms a Parliamentary Investigation Commission (CPI-Comissão Parlamentar Inquérito) to investigate charges that President Collor and his campaign treasurer ran a multimillion-dollar influence-peddling scheme. In its findings, which are presented during a live nationwide television broadcast in August, the CPI estimates that 49 million reais (US$23 million) had been shifted to Collor's family and friends.
September 1992 Collor is impeached by a landslide vote of 441 to 38. He resigns in December, the day his official impeachment trial is scheduled to begin, but the Senate continues with the trial and convicts Collor of corruption. Collor is later prosecuted for corruption but is exonerated by the Supreme Court.
October 1994 Finance Minister Fernando Henrique Cardoso of the center-left Social Democrats (PSDB-Partido da Social Democrácia Brasileira) wins the presidency.
April 1997 São Paulo patrolman Otávio Lourenço Gambra is captured on tape while arbitrarily stopping cars, watching while officers under his command severely beat civilians and then himself shooting a passenger in cold blood. Gambra, nicknamed "Rambo," is arrested with nine other officers after the video is broadcast on national television. In October 1998, Gambra receives 65 years in jail for various crimes, including the nationally televised murder.
May 1997 The newspaper Folha de São Paulo breaks a story alleging vote buying in Congress by the Cardoso administration. The newspaper publishes transcripts of conversations between Chamber of Deputies members Ronivon Santiago and João Maia discussing bribes paid to themselves and three other members of Congress by Sergio Motta, minister of communications and a close friend of Cardoso. Motta had allegedly paid 200,000 reais (US$187,000) to each legislator to ensure their votes for a constitutional amendment in January that would allow a president to be re-elected. One week after the revelations are made public, the Senate passes the amendment. The same day, Santiago and Maia resign from Congress.
September 1998 Federal agents arrest Lt. Col. Manoel Cavalcante for leading a 50-member shadow organization within the police. Known as the "Uniformed Gang," the squad is charged with multiple counts of political assassination, bank robbery, car theft and arms trafficking. Evidence surfaces showing that the gang charged clients 942 reais (US$440) to kill a union leader and 94,164 reais (US$44,000) to kill a famous politician who had been investigating white-collar crime. By year's end, Cavalcante is convicted of homicide and receiving stolen property, while the rest of the 50-man squad remained in jail and under investigation. Three of them were convicted in 1999.
October 1998 Cardoso is reelected.
November 1998 Veja and several other newsmagazines release taped conversations of high-level government officials discussing how to influence bidding in the privatization of Telebrás, the national phone company. The tapes include Luiz Carlos Mendonça de Barros, the minister of communications, and André Lara Resende, president of the National Development Bank (BNDES-Banco Nacional de Desenvolvimento Econõmico e Social). The are discussing how to convince the Telemar investment group to underbid, and thus likely lose the auction for Tele Norte Leste, one of the 16 companies formed during the privatization of Telebrás. Although not charged with any illegality, both men resign by the end of the month, as do BNDES Vice President José Pio Borges and Foreign Trade Secretary José Roberto Mendonça de Barros.
December 1998 Congresswoman Ceci Cunha is assassinated with her husband and two in-laws. Talvane Albuquerque, who had been defeated by Cunha in a bid for reelection the previous October, is next in line for the seat and assumes Cunha's spot in the Chamber of Deputies. A fellow congressman reveals taped conversations between Albuquerque and a hit man known as "Leather Hat" that allegedly involved discussions of a contract killing. In April 1999, following a three-month investigation, Congress votes to expel Albuquerque for "lack of parliamentary decorum" for consorting with "Leather Hat."
April 1999 Former Central Bank President Francisco Lopes is arrested after refusing to testify during a Senate inquiry into a scandal involving Central Bank officials who allegedly gave private banks advance warning of changes to exchange rates and interest-rate policy. During his three weeks as president in early 1999, Lopes had been responsible for massive 2.89 billion reais (US$1.35 billion) bank-sponsored bailouts of Banco FonteCindam and Banco Marka, and was replaced without explanation by President Cardoso. Investigators found Lopes had hid approximately 3.4 million reais (US$1.6 million) in a foreign bank account and that four banks each allegedly paid Lopes 267,512 reais (US$125,000) per month to get inside information about monetary policy. It was reported that Lopes had been blackmailed into performing the bailout by the head of Banco Marka, and that top government officials, including President Cardoso, were aware of Lopes' scheme and tried to cover it up.
April 1999 Congress launches a major new Parliamentary Investigation Commission (CPI-Comissão Parlamentar de Inquérito) to probe drug trafficking in Brazil. The members of the CPI soon earn the nickname "The Untouchables."
April 1999 Thirty-six kilos of cocaine are discovered in a Brazilian Air Force plane that touched down in the Spanish Canary Islands on its way to France. Two Air Force officers are suspected of heading the operation.
September 1999 Former military police chief and first-time deputy Hildebrando Pascoal is expelled by his peers in the Chamber of Deputies for "lack of parliamentary decorum." Pascoal is eventually linked to a brutal 16-state mafia suspected of cocaine smuggling, murder, money laundering, and buying off judges, politicians and police. Pascoal surrenders to police the day after his expulsion and is convicted in March 2000 for tax fraud and other financial crimes. In 2005, he is convicted for his involvement in the 1997 killing of a policeman.
November 1999 Senator Luiz Estevão and Judge Nicolau dos Santos Neto are accused of pocketing money from the construction of the Regional Labor Tribunal of São Paulo, which quickly becomes a national symbol of corruption. In June 2000, Estevão is removed from office when the Senate votes for the first time in 174 years to expel one of its members. In June 2002, Santos Neto is sentenced to an eight-year prison term for his role in the embezzlement scheme, but Estevão is acquitted.
January 2000 Èlcio Álvares, the first civilian defense minister in Brazilian history, is fired after the CPI links his former chief of staff and law partner with organized crime and drug trafficking.
December 2000 A CPI report accuses more than 800 Brazilians in 15 states, including presidents of state legislatures, federal deputies, regional judges, policemen and other influential citizens, of complicity in drug trafficking.
April 2001 A PricewaterhouseCoopers country study on business transparency shows that out of 33 countries, Brazil lost the most foreign direct investment because of corruption, government secrecy and regulatory problems.
July 2002 Brazil ratifies the Inter-American Convention Against Corruption, signed by President Cardoso in 1997.
October 2002 In his fourth consecutive attempt, left-wing candidate Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva wins the presidency. It is the first leftist government elected in Brazil's history.
November 2003 Police in the "Operation Grasshopper" investigation arrest former state governor Neudo Campos and dozens of his associates for allegedly stealing more than 214 million reais (US$100 million) in a scheme that used public money to pay non-existent state employees.
December 2003 Lula signs a decree creating a Commission for Public Transparency and Combating Corruption, an 18-member advisory council operating out of the Comptroller General's office.
February 2004 Lula sacks presidential adviser Waldomiro Diniz after a magazine claims Diniz admitted to acts of illegal campaign fundraising when he worked for the state lottery in Rio de Janeiro.
December 2004 The Banestado investigation, a CPI probe of an alleged high-level money laundering operation, accuses 91 people, including a former central bank chief and a former São Paulo mayor, of laundering between 171 billion reais and 321 billion reais (US$80 - US$150 billion) in illegal overseas transfers between 1996 and 2002.
December 2004 Congress approves a constitutional amendment designed to make the judicial system more streamlined and accountable.
March 2005 Rogue police officers are believed to be behind the indiscriminate shooting of 30 people on the outskirts of Rio de Janeiro over the course of two days.
July 2005 Accusations that the governing Workers' Party (PT-Partido dos Trabalhadores) had paid bribes to lawmakers in exchange for their support force four party executives and Lula's chief of staff to resign. The chief accuser is Brazilian Labor Party (PTB-Partido Trabalhista Brasileiro) lawmaker Roberto Jefferson, himself under investigation for alleged corruption. Lula admits to the use of a secret fund to finance PT campaigns, but denies that any sort of bribery scheme exists.
February 2006 Ana Tereza Sereni Murrieta, a former judge in the Para State, is sentenced to 12 years in prison for diverting approximately US$1.4 million of state judicial funds.
June 2006 President Lula announces the creation of the National Committee for the Prevention and Control of Torture, which will work in cooperation with the Ministry for Human Rights and torture-focused NGOs to combat the high prevalence of torture in Brazil.
August 2006 The Chamber of Deputies begins investigating a major congressional corruption ring dubbed "bloodsucking mafia," a scheme in which dozens of lawmakers are alleged to have over-charged for the purchase of ambulances and other medical equipment.
October 2006 President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva is reelected winning 60 percent of the national vote in spite of corruption scandals that emerged during his last term.
November 2006 Journalist Fausto Brites is sentenced to 10 years in prison for defamation after he accused Andre Puccinelli of corruption during his tenure as mayor of Campo Grande.
March 2007 Former mayor of Sao Paulo, Paulo Maluf, is indicted by New York prosecutors after it is revealed that Maluf was hiding embezzled funds in bank accounts in the United States. Maluf overestimated the funds needed for government construction projects, stashing the excess money in foreign bank accounts.
May 2007 Investigative journalist Luiz Carlos Barbon Filho is murdered. Those close to Barbon claim he was killed in response to his corruption-focused reporting and his recent investigations of state officials' involvement in gang-related highway truck hijackings.
Comptroller Office audits of a government-run cash transfer program aimed at alleviating poverty found irregularities in 90 percent of participating municipalities.
July 2007 A deadly airplane crash in Brazil kills 176 and ignites outrage and concern over airline safety and regulations. In the wake of the crash, President Lula replaces current defense minister Waldir Pires to signify his commitment to increasing safety standards.
August 2007 For the first time, the Brazilian government publicly recognizes the hundreds of disappearances and other human rights abuses committed by the government between 1964 and 1985.
December 2007 Renan Calheiros, speaker of the Brazilian Senate, preemptively steps down from his position as the results from a corruption probe are made public.
February 2008 The Supreme Court halts all cases against journalists and media outlets that draw on press laws of the prior dictatorship. The outdated laws allowed for defendants to bring cases under claims of moral defamation.
May 2008 After being convicted of murder conspiracy in May 2007 for the killing of Sister Dorothy, a retrial jury this month finds Vitalmiro Bastos de Moura not guilty. This decision is met with outrage in Brazil and America where many have been closely following the trials out of allegiance to the beloved American nun and environmental activist.
June 2008 Police operation "Joao de Barro" uncovers an embezzlement scheme involving government contracts for projects in 119 cities across Brazil. Despite the investigation's findings, some of these contracts are still awarded two months later.
September 2008 Responding to claims that intelligence agencies are being used to spy on politicians and other government offices, President Lula fires the state intelligence chiefs.
Romero Menezes, second-in-command of the Federal Police, is placed on administrative leave after allegations that he passed on secret information to his brother regarding a police probe into fraud in the railroad sector in Amapa.