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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Brazilian public favors new presidential election

Reed Johnson and Marla Dickerson – The Wall Street Journal, 04/10/2016

 

SÃO PAULO—With just a week remaining until a key congressional vote that could move Brazil’s President Dilma Rousseff closer to impeachment, new polling data show that the public most favors an option that isn’t even on the table: new presidential elections.

Most Brazilians surveyed by the Datafolha polling agency last week said they would like to see the exit of both Ms. Rousseff and her equally unpopular potential successor, Vice President Michel Temer. In the event of their removal, 79% of respondents said they would like to cast ballots in a new presidential election, in hopes of ending the nation’s political crisis.

The new data underscore the Brazilian public’s deep dissatisfaction with Ms. Rousseff and her ruling Workers’ Party as well as with the opposition parties that are looking to assume power. The data also highlight voters’ conflicted feelings about an impeachment process that has become embroiled in partisan mudslinging and accusations of dirty tricks by both pro- and antigovernment forces.

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Impeachment and Brazil’s ‘Que Se Vayan Todos’ moment

Brian Winter – Americas Quarterly, 04/06/2016

When Argentina’s economy collapsed in late 2001, everybody was absolutely sure whose fault it was. Aloof, hermetic and increasingly prone to slurring his words in public, President Fernando de la Rúa had managed to trash the government’s fiscal accounts in just two years in power. Steakhouses and nightclubs were empty, unemployment was nearing 20 percent and cash was so scarce that much of the economy reverted to the barter system – trading haircuts for groceries, family heirlooms for rent. As Christmas approached, looting broke out at supermarkets and anti-government protests turned violent. Finally, on the evening of December 20, De la Rúa hand-wrote a resignation letter, muttered something to his secretary about collecting the soaps from his private bathroom, climbed the stairs to the palace roof and flew away in a helicopter.

Perfect, Argentines said. Now we can get out of this mess. But the next president was so overwhelmed by the challenge that he quit too, setting off a chain reaction that would ultimately see five different presidents in only two weeks. Appalled, Argentine protesters adopted a new slogan – ¡Que se vayan todos! or “They all must go!” Banging pots and pans, millions took to the streets to demand that the entire political class – the president, Congress, everybody – step aside to allow for a top-to-bottom renewal.

Fast-forward 15 years, and Brazil is now having a similar moment. The economy is not as bad as Argentina’s was, and nobody has yet boarded any helicopters. But the Brazilian public appears to be arriving at the same conclusion – that nobody currently on the political stage is competent or clean enough to address the enormous crises facing the country.

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Opinion: If Impeachment, Then Who?

Glenn Greenwald and David Miranda – Folha de S. Paulo 04/06/2016

The most bizarre fact of Brazil’s political crisis is also its most important one: almost every major political figure advocating the impeachment of President Dilma Rousseff faces corruption allegations far more serious than those directed at her.

From Michel Temer and Eduardo Cunha to PSDB’s Aécio Nevis and Geraldo Alckmin, Dilma’s most influential adversaries are implicated in shocking corruption scandals that would be career-destroying in any healthy democracy.

Indeed, the towering irony of this crisis is that while Brazil’s major parties (including PT) are rife with corruption, President Rousseff is one of the very few politicians with plausible claims to the Presidency of the Republic who is not directly involved in corruption schemes for personal enrichment.

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Don’t wear red in Brazil as Rousseff crisis divides public

Sabrina Valle and David Biller – Bloomberg, 03/30/2016

Raquel Varjao, an advertising professional in Sao Paulo, had just picked up her 7-year-old daughter from school when three passing motorists cursed her. The offense: wearing a red shirt.

“They felt entitled to verbally attack me and in front of her,” the 35-year-old mother said after dressing recently in the color associated with President Dilma Rousseff’s Workers’ Party. “Why do ideological disagreements need to get to this point?”

Rousseff’s impeachment saga is disrupting the rhythm of everyday life across Brazil, a nation with a largely peaceful history and political tolerance since its return to democracy in 1985. In barrooms, chat rooms and above all on the streets, the debate over her possible ouster is growing more hostile and bringing latent class and partisan divisions back to the fore.

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