Lessons of the fall

Bello – The Economist, 05/21/2016

ON A bright and breezy morning in Brasília on May 12th, hours after the Senate had voted to start her impeachment for budgetary misdemeanours and thus suspend her as president, Dilma Rousseff walked down the front ramp of the Planalto palace to address a few hundred supporters of the Workers’ Party (PT). As she vowed defiance, behind her left shoulder stood Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, her predecessor as president and the PT’s founding leader. He looked downcast and pensive, several times wiping his brow and his eyes with a handkerchief. No doubt he was contemplating the probable end of more than 13 years of PT rule.

Behind Ms Rousseff’s impeachment lies a double political failure. The PT once claimed a monopoly on ethical politics; in the public mind, it is now identified with leading a scheme to loot Petrobras, the state-controlled oil company, of more than $2.4 billion to fill its own campaign coffers and the back pockets of allies. And Ms Rousseff, whom Lula sold to the country as a top-notch manager, proved to be an incompetent steward of the economy.

So what went wrong for Latin America’s biggest left-wing party? The answer starts with the PT’s ideological ambiguity. Formed in 1980 by dissident trade unionists (such as Lula), radical priests, grassroots social movements and Marxist intellectuals, the PT claimed to be a new kind of party, of radical democracy and the dispossessed.

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Brazil’s Suspended President Dilma In It To Win It, But Probably Won’t

Kenneth Rapoza – Forbes, 05/22/2016

Brazil’s recently suspended two-term president, Dilma Rousseff, told Glenn Greenwald of The Intercept on Thursday that she was going to fight impeachment until the bitter end. That end will most likely result in her being removed of her political rights for 10 years.

No date has been set for the Senate hearing on her impeachment. But when that day comes, she will have just 20 days to defend herself. The Senate will then have a maximum of 180 days to vote whether or not to officially remove Dilma from office. It’s not looking good. Supporters, who have seemingly come out of the woodwork in the days leading up to her impeachment in the lower house and even more so since her unpopular vice president Michel Temer took over, will be in for a harsh reality check. Warning: this story does not have a happy ending.

In the interview for The Intercept, Workers’ Party president Dilma reiterated that she would not resign and that she had some judicial recourse. She could, in theory, challenge the ruling at the Supreme Court. But considering the fact that Chief Justice Ricardo Lewandowski will oversee the Senate trial, her argument would only be won if the Supreme Court ruled against their own chief. It’s possible, but highly unlikely. She also failed to get an injunction to block the Senate vote and, worth nothing, over half the judges on the bench were appointed by her party.

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Brazil’s Vice President, Michel Temer, won’t face inquiry over Petrobras

Simon Romero – The New York Times, 05/03/2016

RIO DE JANEIRO — Brazil’s vice president, Michel Temer, who is preparing to take control of the country’s embattled government as early as next week, will not face an investigation over testimony implicating him in the colossal graft scandal engulfing Petrobras, the national oil company, federal investigators said Tuesday.

Rodrigo Janot, the prosecutor general, determined that the accusations against Mr. Temer were not substantial enough at this point to merit an inquiry, according to a spokeswoman for Mr. Janot’s office in the capital, Brasília. Mr. Temer, 75, has been maneuvering to replace President Dilma Rousseff if the Senate votes next week to suspend her and put her on trial.

The decision bolsters Mr. Temer’s standing at a critical juncture when powerful figures across Brazil’s political class are battling accusations of corruption and abuse of power, including various top allies that Mr. Temer is considering for cabinet posts as well as officials in Ms. Rousseff’s leftist Workers’ Party.

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Dilma Rousseff, facing impeachment in Brazil, has alienated many allies

Andrew Jacobs – The New York Times, 05/01/2016

BRASÍLIA — They were idealists, united in the struggle against Brazil’s military dictators.

As democracy flourished, so did their careers. One of them, Paulo Ziulkoski, became the leader of an association of Brazilian cities. The other, Dilma Rousseff, rose even higher, becoming the president of Latin America’s largest country.

But their friendship soon fell apart. During a contentious meeting with the nation’s mayors in 2012, Ms. Rousseff rejected pleas for a share of Brazil’s soaring oil revenues. After the room erupted in jeers, Mr. Ziulkoski said, she stormed up to him, poked a finger in his face and humiliated him with a string of expletives.

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Brazil’s Vice President, unpopular and under scrutiny, prepares to lead

Simon Romero –  The New York Times, 04/21/2016

RIO DE JANEIRO — One recent poll found that only 2 percent of Brazilians would vote for him. He is under scrutiny over testimony linking him to acolossal graft scandal. And a high court justice ruled that Congress should consider impeachment proceedings against him.

Michel Temer, Brazil’s vice president, is preparing to take the helm of Brazil next month if the Senate decides to put President Dilma Rousseff on trial. A simple majority would suspend her for six months while she battles claims that she illegally covered budget shortfalls with money from state banks.

That would leave Mr. Temer in charge of Latin America’s biggest country as it grapples with its worst economic crisis in decades, a Zika epidemic, seething political discord and the 2016 Summer Olympics — all at the same time.

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The real reason Dilma Rousseff’s enemies want her impeached

David Miranda – The Guardian, 04/21/2016

The story of Brazil’s political crisis, and the rapidly changing global perception of it, begins with its national media. The country’s dominant broadcast and print outlets are owned by a tiny handful of Brazil’s richest families, and are steadfastly conservative. For decades, those media outlets have been used to agitate for the Brazilian rich, ensuring that severe wealth inequality (and the political inequality that results) remains firmly in place.

Indeed, most of today’s largest media outlets – that appear respectable to outsiders – supported the 1964 military coup that ushered in two decades of rightwing dictatorship and further enriched the nation’s oligarchs. This key historical event still casts a shadow over the country’s identity and politics. Those corporations – led by the multiple media arms of the Globo organisation –heralded that coup as a noble blow against a corrupt, democratically elected liberal government. Sound familiar?

For more than a year, those same media outlets have peddled a self-serving narrative: an angry citizenry, driven by fury over government corruption, rising against and demanding the overthrow of Brazil’s first female president, Dilma Rousseff, and her Workers’ party (PT). The world saw endless images of huge crowds of protesters in the streets, always an inspiring sight.

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Brazil coalition partners ‘to vote for Rousseff impeachment’

BBC, 04/13/2016

Two former coalition partners of Brazil President Dilma Rousseff say they will vote for her impeachment over claims she manipulated government accounts.

The Progressive Party (PP), which quit the coalition on Tuesday, says most of its 47 MPs would vote for the impeachment.

The Republican Party (PRB) said its 22 members had been told to vote for it.

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