Is Dilma Rousseff’s Impeachment Good for Brazil?

Lee Alson – The New Republic, 05/16/2016

“Brazil’s young democracy is being subjected to a coup,” said Dilma Rousseff after the Senate on May 12 voted 55 to 22 to remove her as president and move forward with impeachment.

Is this really a coup, as Rousseff and her supporters believe? Coups usually entail the violent overthrow of a government or a trampling of constitutional rules and procedures. In Brazil, there has been no involvement by the military other than to keep the peace.

And the major players in this real-life Brazilian telenovela—Congress, the judiciary, the federal police, and the Federal Accounting Office (TCU)—are all playing by the constitutional rules. This is testimony to strong institutions in Brazil and a victory for checks and balances.

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Impeachment is ruled out as a “Coup D’état”

Daniel Buarque, Folha de S. Paulo, 05/15/2016

The removal of president Dilma Rousseff is not considered a coup d’etat by the researchers who created one of the most complex database about governments which are illegally overthrown.

Even though Dilma believes the impeachment process is a coup against her government, scholars argue that the absence of an infringement in the constitution classifies her removal as legal under Brazilian law.

“Impeachment is not a coup. The idea that there is a coup in Brazil is nonsense” said the political scientist, Clayton Tyne from the University of Kentucky to Folha de São Paulo, a Brazilian newspaper.

He is one of the authors from the database which collects information about all the coup d’etats (and coup attempts) in the world since 1950. He said that Dilma’s impeachment does not classify as a coup.

Thyne started his study, “Coups in the world” with his colleague Jonathan Powell, from the Central University of Florida. The collection of data started originally in 2011 in the academic article, “Global Instances of Coups from 1950-Present” and has been updated since then.

In total, more than 1,200 probable coups were evaluated in 94 countries since 1950. The majority of them occurred in Africa (36%) and in the Americas (32%) and only 2.6% in Europe. The majority of the coups d’etats in the world took place between 1960 and 1970.

Among the most current cases, the study did not consider the overthrow of president Fernando Lugo, of Paraguay – where they consider four coups occurred in the country since 1950, given that the last one took place in 2000.Yet, the fall of Manuel Zelaya, of Honduras in 2009 is considered as an illegal overthrow.

 

Definition

Even though there is not an universal consensus about the definition of a coup d’etat, its association to an illegal process is one most frequently mentioned characteristic.

The political scientists conducted a study of the 14 most relevant explanations in the academic bibliography adopted as a concept of “illegal attempt by military or other state elites to overthrow the Executive power.”

“I don’t see sufficient evidence of any illegal activity taking place in the impeachment process in Brazil,” explained Thyne. “ Some Jurists might argue that the rules are being forced in some sense, but it is a necessary rupture from the constitution to have something considered as a coup. There has to be an objectively illegal activity.”

The evaluation that the impeachment process is legal does not imply the support for impeachment. “ I am not saying that the Brazilian government should or should not impeach the president, I am simply saying that if the process is conducted inside constitutional laws, it is not a coup.”

He emphasized that impeachment is not something bad or good, but it is one way to remove governments from power. “It is in the constitution. It is part of the democracy”. According to the researcher, the accusation of the coup is frequent in cases of governments that are removed from power, even if the proceedings are legal.

The historic study of coup cases indicates that they tend to have devastating consequences for the countries since it can generate an authoritarian rule.

In rare cases, however, Thyne says it is possible that the overthrow of a government open new opportunities for democracy, which is seen in the 2009 putsch case in Honduras.

The database is not going to consider Dilma’s impeachment, but has evaluated 20 coups attempts in Brazil, where six have been recognized as illegal ruptures.

According to research, there has been a coup in 1955, failures in attempts to power in 1959 and 1963, two coups in 1964 and another one in 1969.

See original article here…

Translated by Julia Fonteles

Brazil’s Graft-Prone Congress: A Circus That Even Has a Clown

Andrew Jacobs – The New York Times, 05/15/2016

One of Brazil’s longest-running spectacles features a dizzying array of characters whose theatrics appear on millions of television sets most nights.

The ever-changing cast of 594 includes suspects accused of murder and drug trafficking, aging former soccer players, a judo champion, a country music star and a collection of bearded men who have adopted roles as leaders of a women’s movement.

The cast even includes a clown who goes by the name Grumpy.

But these are not actors. They are the men and women who serve in the national legislature.

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Facing Impeachment Vote in Brazil, Dilma Rousseff Accuses Vice President of Conspiracy

Reuters – NY Times, 04/13/2016

President Dilma Rousseff of Brazil said on Tuesday that her vice president was orchestrating a conspiracy to topple her, as efforts to impeach her gained momentum in the National Congress.

Aided by her mentor and predecessor, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, Ms. Rousseff scrambled to secure enough support from a dwindling array of allies to block impeachment in a lower-house vote set for Sunday that analysts predicted she would lose.

A congressional committee voted on Monday by a larger-than-expected margin to recommend that she be impeached for breaking budget laws to support her re-election in 2014, a charge Ms. Rousseff says was trumped up to remove her from office.

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Brazil awaits outcome of key step in Rousseff impeachment

BBC, 04/11/2016

Brazil is awaiting the outcome of a congressional committee vote – a key step in the process to impeach President Dilma Rousseff.

The 65-member committee will decide whether to recommend impeachment over allegations she manipulated government accounts to hide a growing deficit.

Police in Brazil are preparing for protests in the capital, Brasilia.

A two-metre-high (6.5ft) metal barricade is being built to keep anti- and pro-government protesters apart.

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Brazil’s nightmare: No end in sight

Roberto J. Samuelson – The Washington Post, 04/10/2016

Woe is Brazil. As August’s Summer Olympics approach, Latin America’s largest country — with a population of 206 million and an economy that is 40 percent of the region’s total — is caught in a harsh slump and faces a political crisis that could result in its president being impeached. How did this happen? What does it mean?

A decade ago, Brazil was a poster child for “emerging market” countries whose surging economies would ultimately make them wealthy nations. Remember BRIC: The acronym stood for “Brazil, Russia, India, China,” which were the anointed leaders. From 2004 to 2008, Brazil’s economy averaged growth of almost 5 percent a year, reports the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

No more.

Economist Rafael Amiel of IHS, a consulting company, reports that the country’s economy has been shrinking since 2014 and that he expects cumulative decline of gross domestic product — total output — to be 8.5 percent. That’s roughly twice the GDP drop (4.2 percent) the United States suffered in the Great Recession. Brazil’s national unemployment rate has risen from 6.7 percent in mid-2014 to 9.5 percent at the end of 2015. It will probably go higher.

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Brazil crisis: There may be bigger threats than Rousseff’s removal

Wyre Davies – BBC, 03/251/2016

The latest indicator of public opinion, released on Sunday by the respected Datafolha institute (in Portuguese), shows that 68% of Brazilians support the impeachment of President Rousseff. Whatever the rights and wrongs of the case against the under fire leader, that figure “feels” about right and Ms Rousseff is on the ropes, in the political equivalent of a bare-knuckle fight for her survival.

Where did it all go wrong?

A decade ago Brazil was the darling of the developing world. A nation whose economy was booming, not just because it was selling raw materials and commodities to China but because it was building its own high-tech industries, training its own engineers and becoming a genuine global “player”. Upwardly mobile Brazil soon shoved the UK aside to become the world’s sixth largest economy.

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Brazil’s breakdown: ‘A political and ethical crisis without precedent

Stephanie Nolen – The Globe and Mail, 03/04/2016

God, people around here like to say, is Brazilian – a cheery way of celebrating this country’s natural beauty, bountiful resources, lovely people.

God, however, appears to be in an Old Testament phase.

Each day in Brazil of late is more dramatic than the one before, and the news is uniformly grim. There is a political crisis, an economic crisis and, as if that wasn’t enough, a public-health crisis.

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Brazil’s No. 2 builder admits illegal Rousseff campaign funding: paper

Daniel Flynn, Caroline Stauffer- Reuters, 03/01/2016

Executives from Brazil’s second-largest engineering company, Andrade Gutierrez [AGIS.UL], have testified that the company paid suppliers for President Dilma Rousseff’s 2010 electoral campaign off the books, newspaper a Folha de S.Paulo reported on Tuesday.

The testimony, as part of a plea bargain by 11 executives, would be the first direct link between the widening “Operation Carwash” investigation into bribes and political kickbacks at state-run oil company Petrobras and the election of Rousseff, the paper said.

The allegations may bolster the case of the main opposition party PSDB as it seeks to annul Rousseff’s 2014 re-election for using illegal funding, though Brazil’s top electoral court is unlikely to accept evidence from a previous election.

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Rousseff Launches a National Mobilization Against Zika

Paulo Sotero – The Huffington Post, 02/22/2016

The epicenter of the Zika virus epidemic, Brazil has launched a major offensive against the mosquito born disease that has contaminated more than 1.5 million people in the country in less than a year and could infect an estimated 4 million in the Americas, including in the United States, in the next twelve months. The World Health Organization declared Zika a global health emergency on February 1st. Although it is asymptomatic in most cases, the rapid spread of the virus has alarmed health officials after the birth of hundreds of babies with abnormal small heads in the Brazilian Northeastern region. Scientists have yet to fully establish and explain the connection between Zika and microcephaly. Marcelo Castro, Brazil’s Health minister, said last week that he ” is absolutely sure” that the virus is the cause of the condition in at least 41 of 3,800 cases under study. The WHO is not so certain. “The experts agreed that a causal relationship between Zika infection during pregnancy and microcephaly is strongly suspected, though not yet scientifically proven,” said WHO General Director Dr. Margaret Chan.

Biologist Fernando Reinarch, a member of the National Academy of Sciences, agrees with the cautious approach taken so far by international health experts. He says that microcephaly is not new and that the recent explosion in the number of cases may be explained in part by a change in the reporting criteria in Brazil, which became mandatory only last year, after doctors and health officials started to see in the state of Pernambuco an unusual number of babies born with brains smaller than the 33 centimeters in diameter considered normal. In his February 6th column for the daily Estado de S.Paulo, Reinach noted that Brazil and the US use the same definition for microcephaly. In the US, some 25,000 babies, or 0,6% percent of the 3 million newborns every year, are reported to have the condition, from various causes. Using the same percentage, Reinach estimated in 19,250 the number of children born with microcephaly in Brazil per year. The change to mandatory reporting of microcephaly, not Zika, may explain the sudden increase in the number of cases.

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