Befuddled by the political inferno currently engulfing Brazil? You’re not alone. Chances are, though, that watching the chaotic, farcical scenes that went down in Congress on Sunday, when a majority of Brazilian lawmakers gleefully voted to impeach Brazil’s first woman President Dilma Rousseff, didn’t help that much.
Each lawmaker was given a small amount of time to state his or her reasons for ousting the President, and while a handful of anti-Rousseff politicians offhandedly mentioned the charges brought against Dilma — she’s accused of using State bank funds to prop up budgetary holes during an election year — the majority of the 367 who voted “yes” to impeachment seized their moment and engaged in what can only be described as a collection of ageing men giving their political equivalent of an Oscar acceptance speech.
In fact, many people in Brazil and the millions who voted for Dilma and the ruling center-left Workers’ Party (PT) about a year and a half ago in their latest electoral win have accused the Brazilian right leading the impeachment proceedings of doing so for politically motivated reasons, of effectively orchestrating a de-facto coup d’état against Rousseff. Listening to the reasons many of them gave for ousting Dilma (a full list was published earlier this week and it’s amazing) this doesn’t seem too wild an accusation.
Here are some of the worst:
“For Carlos Alberto Brilhante Ustra”
Yes, Lawmaker Jair Bolsonaro dedicated his vote to Carlos Alberto Brilhante Ustra. Why so bad? Brilhante Ustra was a high-ranking intelligence chief during Brazil’s last military dictatorship (1964-1985) and involved in repressing dissent during the period. Not only that, it’s thought he was personally responsible for torturing Rousseff multiple times during her time as a political prisoner. Dilma was a student activist and underground resistance fighter against the dictatorship during her youth and was arrested and tortured for her actions by the military:
Brazil congressman dedicated impeachment vote to man who tortured Dilma during dictatorship. What was done to her: pic.twitter.com/PYAQvqAXQE
— Jon Schwarz (@tinyrevolution) April 18, 2016
2. “For The Military Men Of 1964”
Said by Eduardo Bolsonaro, the son of the guy above. Again, nostalgia for the dictatorship from a family on Brazil’s impeachment-hungry right. Worrying and depressing in equal measure, most of us would agree that the army probably shouldn’t be put back in charge, and that looking backing on their time in office in Brazil with rose-tinted spectacles betrays a certain level of forgetfulness or else a teeny hint of extreme sadomasochism and disdain for democracy from an elected official.
3. “Happy Birthday To My Granddaughter”
Not even kidding. Take a bow, Sérgio Moraes.
4. “Against The Communism Haunting The Country”
Like many conservatives inside Brazil and beyond, the moderate progressive policies of the PT as well as Rousseff and her predecessor, former President Lula Da Silva aka “most popular politician on Earth” according to Barack Obama, are labelled as communism. This conveniently ignores that fact that since her re-election, Dilma has been ushered into enacting pro-market austerity policies that have slashed large amounts off the State welfare programs and faced a backlash among PT activists, many of whom like Lula are tied to the reformist trade union movement.
Even though the quote may have been an ingenious reference to the opening words of Marx and Engel’s Communist Manifesto, the comparison of the PT to the authoritarian Bolsheviks is a tad far-fetched, even if their symbols and affinity for the color red (long associated with social movements before 1917 by the way) suggests otherwise.
The PT has won four consecutive general elections in Brazil, starting in 2002. Is this the same anti-democratic dictatorial communism of Stalin and Mao variety that the impeachers suggest? Really?
5. “Against Corruption In Brazil”
On the face of it, this seems totally valid. After all, the primary reason the impeachment vote went ahead is thanks to the corruption charges leveled against Rousseff, which have also been targeted at Lula, and in effect the entire governing PT party by default due to the gargantuan corruption scandal that emerged in the giant state-owned energy company Petrobras.
Then again, a lot of the lawmakers who voted to impeach Dilma are under investigation themselves, such as hardcore evangelical figurehead of the “yes” vote and Lower House Speaker Eduardo Cunha, for example. Why? Corruption charges. Hmmm.
6. “For My Wife”
Seriously? Yes. A bunch of times.
7. “For The State Of Israel And Peace In Jerusalem”
Lawmaker Ronaldo Fonseca with this one. Again, not really a good or particularly legit reason for impeaching a president, let alone a Brazilian one, even if some might find the sentiment touching. A little explaining here is required. Amid the melting pot of scandals that is Brazilian politics right now, another bust up occurred between the ruling PT and the opposition Social Democratic Party (PSDB — don’t be fooled by the oxymoron(ic) name, this is about as far from the original, center-left German Social Democratic Party in terms of its rightward place on the political spectrum as would be possible to get away with).
Brazil officially refused the appointment of a new Israeli ambassador following elections in Israel recently after it emerged he, Dani Dayan, was also a leader of the ongoing settlement building program in the occupied Palestinian territories that is considered illegal under international law and has been condemned repeatedly by most UN member states.
Israel since threw its toys out of the pram, called Brazil a “diplomatic dwarf” (classy) and threatened a worsening of relations between the two countries if the PT didn’t accept its choice of ambassador. Then it backed down, after realizing the world did not revolve around its diplomatic appointments in Latin America.
8. “Against Sex Changes And Sex Education”
Said commissioner Éder Mauro: “I, along with my children and my wife who form a family in Brazil, which these criminals want so much to destroy, with propositions that children can go through sex changes and learn about sex in school when they are six years old, my vote is yes.” Nuff said.