It’s done. Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff was removed from office and will be suspended for 180 days while an impeachment trial is underway following the process’s approval by both Congressional chambers. Some people are celebrating, others are crying for democracy, but everyone agrees that this is surreal.
What Is She Being Accused Of?
According to a petition submitted last year by a bunch of opposition lawyers and admitted by the then-Lower House Speaker Eduardo Cunha (now ousted by the Supreme Court for obstructing an investigation into corruption), Dilma allegedly fiddled with government accounts by taking loans from public banks to mask gaps in the budget.
Is That Okay?
Come on, of course not. But Dilma has defended herself saying that accounting “maneuvers” are standard practice for many governments.
Is It Enough To Sack Her From The Presidency?
It’s like being sent to prison for six months while waiting for a judge’s decision on a minor traffic infraction. But according to Congress (one of the “dirtiest” Congresses ever in Brazil), yes, she totally deserves this. And local, mainstream media couldn’t agree more, applauding the ousting of the leftist leader.
The Brazilian Constitution states that the impeachment is due to a “crime of responsibility,” which may not apply to Rousseff’s personal actions. You won’t get a star for breaking budgetary laws, but the punishment seems disproportionate.
Is It A Coup?
The process is not unconstitutional, and Rousseff’s past as a guerrilla fighter might be part of the reason behind her broken-record repetition of the word “coup.” But she is a democratically elected President and, though widely unpopular at the moment, nothing has been proven against her. Even if the investigation into the largest corruption scandal ever in Brazil is underway right now (known as “Lava Jato,” referring to kickbacks afforded to State-owned oil company Petrobras), Dilma hasn’t been formally accused of any corrupt actions yet. And many congressmen can’t say the same thing about themselves.
So, to make it clear, people accused of corruption — to show you how rampant corruption corruption is, 60 percent of senators and over 50 percent of deputies are or have been in trouble with the law — voted to open an investigation to impeach a President who hasn’t been found guilty of any wrongdoing thus far. That’s why her supporters claim that an impeachment trial without any proof is a coup.
Congressmen ran marathon sessions to approve the impeachment proceedings in record time and many of them used any justification for their votes, like the Lava Jato or the horrendous economic crisis, both serious topics but totally unrelated to the accusation.
So What Happens Now?
Dilma is now suspended for up to 180 days while she the Senate investigates the case and will be replaced by one-time friend now mortal enemy, Vice President Michel Temer, who was already practicing his speech welcoming the presidency weeks ago. And that’s not even a rumor: he actually “accidentally” revealed an audio in which he does just that. Frank Underwood couldn’t have done it better. Temer will be Brazil’s face to the world soon, at the Summer Olympic Games, starting in July in Rio de Janeiro.
Is Temer A Solution Amid This Crisis?
He is not the most popular guy on the block. That is obvious to Dilma’s supporters, after she pointed him out as the mastermind behind the alleged coup, but the right wing doesn’t like him either. So he will have pressure from both sides.
He already said that he wouldn’t seek reelection in 2018. As if he could! The polls only give him 2 percent support. His party, the PMDB, which just managed to get its third president in office (none of whom were elected directly, mind you), already revealed what they intend to do to reverse the economic crisis.
This is probably the worst recession in decades, and it will be fought, how else, with austerity reforms, including cuts on social programs, so it will be hard for him to earn people’s love. Brace yourself, Brazil, your bills are probably going to skyrocket. Just ask your Argentine neighbors how to manage.