The campaign to impeach Brazil’s President is viciously sexist

Marc Hertzman – The New York Magazine, 04/22/2016

On Sunday, Brazil’s lower house (the Chamber of Deputies) voted to proceed with impeachment hearings against Dilma Rousseff, the nation’s first female president, by an overwhelming 2:1 majority. The case now moves to the Senate, which is expected to vote on Rousseff’s ouster by May 17. Much like in the U.S., both houses are overwhelmingly male. And just like in the U.S., the treatment of the country’s most prominent female politician is largely a function of sexism.

The stated reason for Rousseff’s impeachment is her alleged misappropriation of funds in an effort to cover budget gaps and boost confidence in the economy (and her administration). The accusations come from a sweeping anti-corruption campaign, Operação Lava Jato (Operation Car Wash), that has uncovered a dizzying array of malfeasance at nearly every level of government.

So the proceedings against Rousseff might not seem so remarkable, if not for the mind-blowing contradictions involved. Brazil’s previous two presidents, Fernando Henrique Cardoso and Rousseff’s mentor, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, both faced numerous similar — in some cases, more serious — charges (17 counts against Cardoso, 34 for Silva), none of which prompted impeachment hearings.

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An interview with Dilma Rousseff, Brazil’s president-elect

Lally Weymouth – The Washington Post, 12/03/2010

Four weeks ago, Brazilians elected their first female president – Dilma Rousseff, the chosen candidate of Luiz Incio Lula da Silva, Brazil’s popular outgoing president. Rousseff comes to power with an unusual background: She fought in the 1960s underground against the military regime that then ruled Brazil, and she was imprisoned and tortured between 1970 and 1972. She then started in local politics and joined Lula’s government in 2002 as minister of mines and energy, eventually becoming his chief of staff. On Dec. 2, in her first lengthy interview since the vote, Rousseff spoke about her plans for the next four years. Excerpts:

Does having been a political prisoner give you more sympathy for other political prisoners?

There is no question about that. Due to the fact that I experienced personally the situation of a political prisoner, I have an historical commitment to all those that were or are prisoners just because they expressed their views, their public opinion, their own opinions.

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Gender gap persists in Brazil despite election of female president

Zhang Xu – Xinhua, 11/05/2010

Despite having elected a woman as president, Brazil still offers fewer opportunities to its female population, the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) said Thursday.

Brazil ranked 80th among the 138 countries in the UNDP’s gender equality list, with a Gender Inequality Index (GII) of 0.631. The indicator goes from zero to 1 and the higher the GII, the more gender inequality a country has.

The ranking takes several factors into account, including the maternal mortality ratio, the adolescent fertility rate, the education gap between men and women, and the presence of women in the Congress and in the labor market.

According to the UNDP, the maternal mortality ratio in Brazil is high with 110 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births. In Norway, which was considered the most gender equal country in the world this year, the maternal mortality ratio is seven for every 100,000 live births.

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Brazil’s presidential election: A miss, but not by a mile

The Economist, 10/07/2010

WITH 46.9% of the vote, Dilma Rousseff fell short of the absolute majority she needed to be elected president on October 3rd. So on October 31st she will go head-to-head with José Serra, the runner-up, who got 32.6%. Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, the hugely popular outgoing president and Ms Rousseff’s mentor, publicly reminded her during the campaign that he had won neither of his own victories in the first round. She did well for a woman who had never before run for office. But her vote was some three to four percentage points less than polls had predicted, and during her unsmiling statement on election night Ms Rousseff was visibly deflated by her failure to win outright.

It was not Mr Serra but Marina Silva of the Green Party who denied Ms Rousseff a first-round victory. In the opinion polls, Ms Silva had been stuck at around 10% for months. But on the night she got a startling 19.3%. That makes her the most successful third candidate in any of Brazil’s six post-dictatorship presidential contests.

Abroad, particularly in Europe, a green candidate gaining a fifth of the presidential vote caught many eyes. But although some of those who voted for Ms Silva are indeed environmentalists, others have different reasons for supporting her. Some like her evangelical Protestantism. Her steely serenity appealed to those seeking an alternative to the uncharismatic front-runners.

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Brazil election sees breakthrough for Greens and environmental agenda

Tom Phillips – The Guardian, 10/04/2010

Environmental campaigners and Green party activists heralded a breakthrough today after a former rubber-tapper from the Brazilian Amazon who rose to be a world-famous rainforest defender became the central figure in the second round of the country’s presidential election.

Marina Silva, who was raised in the Amazon state of Acre and was illiterate until the age of 16, failed to make the second round but came away with 19% of the vote, far higher than pollsters had expected.

President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva’s chosen candidate, Dilma Rousseff, meanwhile missed out on a first-round majority, polling a disappointing 46.7%.

With Rousseff’s main rival, the Social Democrat José Serra, taking just under 33% of votes, Silva became the king or queen maker in the 31 October runoff when Serra and Rousseff do battle.

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The former guerrilla set to be the world’s most powerful woman

Hugh O’Shaughnessy – The Independent, 09/26/2010

The world’s most powerful woman will start coming into her own next weekend. Stocky and forceful at 63, this former leader of the resistance to a Western-backed military dictatorship (which tortured her) is preparing to take her place as President of Brazil.

As head of state, president Dilma Rousseff would outrank Angela Merkel, Germany’s Chancellor, and Hillary Clinton, the US Secretary of State: her enormous country of 200 million people is revelling in its new oil wealth. Brazil’s growth rate, rivalling China’s, is one that Europe and Washington can only envy.

Her widely predicted victory in next Sunday’s presidential poll will be greeted with delight by millions. It marks the final demolition of the “national security state”, an arrangement that conservative governments in the US and Europe once regarded as their best artifice for limiting democracy and reform. It maintained a rotten status quo that kept a vast majority in poverty in Latin America while favouring their rich friends.

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A woman rises in Brazil

Luisita Lopez Torregrosa – New York Times, 09/28/2010

Latin America is no stranger to female leaders, but not many can match the radical political trajectory of Dilma Rousseff, the 62-year-old onetime Marxist guerrilla leader who stands to become Brazil’s first female president.

For Ms. Rousseff, a twice-divorced economist, to become Brazil’s president — either by winning outright in elections on Sunday, or in a later runoff — would be historic enough. What’s more, she would rule a country with the eighth-largest economy in the world, the wealthiest in Latin America.

Brazil has always been an exotic playground whose politics regularly feature corruption, violence and upheaval. But it is now a player in the world arena. It is a global power.

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Lula da Silva recommends Dilma to think and act as the “mother of the poor”

MercoPress, 08/21/2010

President Lula da Silva compared candidate Dilma Rousseff to a mother and recommended, if elected, to always think about the poor. Lula da Silva and Ms Rousseff participated in a political rally Friday night in the metropolitan Sao Paulo.

“It’s not the father but the mother which forges our character”, said Lula da Silva who also cautioned Ms Rousseff about the people who will surround her if she’s elected Brazil’s first woman president next October 3.

“There will be many people round you, trying to fence you in. Whenever in doubt don’t think about me, think about the poor”, said Lula da Silva.

Ms Rousseff promised that if elected she “will be a mother for our people…I won’t commit mistakes so that women can have more access and opportunities of reaching government”.

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Lula: Stonewalled by Iran

Jackson Diehl – The Washington Post, 08/03/2010

The best friend of tyrants in the democratic world — Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva — has once again been humiliated by one of his clients.

That would be Iran’s Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the sponsor of terrorism and Holocaust denier whom Lula has publicly embraced — literally. Over the weekend, under pressure from domestic protesters, Lula appealed to the Iranian president to free Sakineh Ashtiani, an Iranian women condemned to death by stoning on charges of adultery, and allow her to go into exile in Brazil.

“If my friendship and affection for the president of Iran matters, and if this woman is causing problems there, we will welcome her here in Brazil,” Lula proclaimed.

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