Brazil after Dilma Rousseff

Alex Cuadros, New York Times – 02/09/2016

On Wednesday, thousands of people packed Paulista Avenue, in central São Paulo. Many were there to celebrate the impeachment of Dilma Rousseff, Brazil’s first female President. They posed for photographs while holding plastic champagne flutes and servings of cake with yellow, green, and blue frosting—the colors of the Brazilian flag. Meanwhile, many others had turned out to condemn what they called a golpe: a coup. Earlier in the day, the country’s senators had voted overwhelmingly to remove Rousseff from office, but this apparent consensus belied a deep national rift, and on the street the crowds were bitterly divided. As night fell, lines of riot police separated the opposing groups, and officers used tear gas to disperse anti-impeachment demonstrators.

A majority of Brazilians had wanted Rousseff out, but few in the country appear to fully grasp the technical grounds for her impeachment: she was convicted of breaking budgetary laws by decreeing minor outlays without congressional approval and delaying payments to state banks. In practice, the impeachment trial served as a vote of no confidence in a President who had led the country into its longest recession in decades. The party she belongs to, the left-leaning Workers’ Party, had also been implicated in a corruption scheme that funnelled billions of dollars into political campaigns and offshore bank accounts during its thirteen years in power. The irony here is that many of the lawmakers who voted for Rousseff’s impeachment are themselves suspects in the scheme.

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