Rousseff to face impeachment after Olympics


Brazil’s neoliberal-dominated senate has done the expected and ordered suspended President Dilma Rousseff to stand trial for impeachment based on allegations of the same sorts of corruption her accusers may be tried.

The legislative coup’s backers are already reaping financial rewards from the measure, detailed after the jump.

But Rousseff still has one well-known supporter in the U.S., Bernie Sanders.

We begin with a report from the Manila Times:

The trial is set to open around August 25 — four days after the Olympics end — with a judgment vote five days later. If two-thirds of the senators vote against her, she will be out.

“The truth is, Dilma would need a miracle for that not to happen,” said political analyst Everaldo Moraes from Brasilia University.

“The biggest surprise would be if she managed to turn the process around,” he told Agence France-Presse.

“Even her own allies can see that. They know the process has become irreversible.”

Rousseff, 68, has called the impeachment drive tantamount to a coup by her political enemies.

More from the Associated Press:

After some 15 hours of debate, senators voted 59-21 to put her on trial for breaking fiscal rules in her managing of the federal budget. It was the final step before a trial and vote on whether to definitively remove her from office, expected later this month. The political drama is playing out while Rio de Janeiro is hosting the Olympics, which run through Aug. 21.

The outcome was widely expected: The Senate already voted in May to impeach and remove Ms. Rousseff from office for up to 180 days while the trial was prepared.

Wednesday’s vote underscored that efforts to remove her may have actually gained steam despite her attempts to woo senators who have expressed doubt about the governing ability of interim President Michel Temer, who was vice president under Rousseff.

An emerging picture of corruption

Her accusers stand accused of a wide variety of financial high crimes and misdemeanors, and interim president and chief accuser faces serious allegations and has become the object of public ridicule.

Details from teleSUR English:

Rousseff is accused of spending money without congressional approval and taking out unauthorized loans from state banks to make the national budget look better than it really was as she campaigned for re-election in 2014.

She says such maneuvers were common practice under previous administrations and do not amount to an impeachable offense.

Her allies both nationally and internationally point out that many of the lawmakers accusing her are implicated in corruption cases arguably far more serious than accounting tricks.

Eduardo Cunha, who spearheaded the impeachment process as president of the Chamber of Deputies, for example, has been indicted in the scandal known as Operation Car Wash involving the state-owned oil company Petrobras and was suspended by Brazil’s Supreme Court on May 5 due to allegations that he attempted to intimidate members of Congress and obstructed investigations into his alleged receipt of bribes.

Temer has also been implicated in corruption allegations. Known as the most unpopular man in Brazil, Temer was loudly booed at the Olympic opening ceremonies. If Rousseff is impeached, he will remain president until the next general election in 2018.

There’s lots more, after the jump. . .

More on those accusations from a second teleSUR English report covering the latest allegations of misdeeds:

According to a report by the Brazilian newspaper Folha de Sao Paulo, Temer’s interim Foreign Minister Jose Serra accepted more than US$12 million—23 million Brazilian reals—in slush fund money from the construction company Odebrecht to finance his unsuccessful 2010 presidential campaign against Rousseff.

The allegations were made by Odebrecht executives, including jailed CEO Marcelo Odebrecht, in a plea bargain deal with prosecutors as part of the corruption investigations known as Operation Car Wash, which centers on fraud in the state oil company Petrobras. Part of the payment was reported made through Serra’s offshore bank accounts, which Odebrecht reportedly identified via bank statements.

Serra – who also unsuccessfully ran for president against Rousseff’s predecessor Luis Inacio Lula da Silva in 2002 – denied the allegations, claiming that he ran his 2010 campaign “in accordance with the law” and that any financial matters were the responsibility of his Brazilian Social Democracy Party, or PSDB, Folha reported.

Meanwhile, the Odebrecht plea bargain has also revealed that the company secretly paid over US$3 million, or 10 million reals, to Temer’s 2014 campaign for vice president on a ticket with Rousseff after he asked Odebrecht for “financial support,” according to the Brazilian daily Veja. Temer’s conservative Brazilian Democratic Movement Party, or PMDB, was in a coalition with Rousseff’s Workers’ Party at the time, a relationship that formally broke down in the runup to her suspension from office in May, in a move widely condemned by both Brazilians and the international community as a parliamentary coup.

Temer is already banned from running for public office for eight years over charges that he violated campaign finance laws and has compiled a “dirty record” in elections, although the coup leaders have made it clear that they intend to install him as president in the event that Rousseff is impeached in a trial later this month. Three of Temer’s ministers have resigned as a result of corruption charges since being installed in office in May.

Bernie Sanders weighs in

The ouster of Rousseff is really a case of class war, with the accusers backed by powerful economic interests and, tacitly, by the Obama administration, which has been relentlessly working against leftist Latin American government.

Here’s Sanders’ statement:

“I am deeply concerned by the current effort to remove Brazil’s democratically elected president, Dilma Rousseff. To many Brazilians and observers the controversial impeachment process more closely resembles a coup d’état.

“After suspending Brazil’s first female president on dubious grounds, without a mandate to govern, the new interim government abolished the ministry of women, racial equality and human rights. They immediately replaced a diverse and representative administration with a cabinet made up entirely of white men. The new, unelected administration quickly announced plans to impose austerity, increase privatization and install a far right-wing social agenda.

“The effort to remove President Rousseff is not a legal trial but rather a political one. The United States cannot sit silently while the democratic institutions of one of our most important allies are undermined. We must stand up for the working families of Brazil and demand that this dispute be settled with democratic elections.”

Yes, it really is class warfare

Finally, from MercoPress, more confirmation of the class-based nature of the impeachment and the rewards its reaping for its corporate sponsors:

In her written defense last month Rousseff said Brazilians knew an honest woman was being put on trial and she called the impeachment proceedings a “farce” and her alleged crimes no more than “routine acts of budgetary management.”

Her conviction would end the 13-year reign of the populist Workers Party over Brazil, and leave the largest economy in Latin America in the hands of her conservative former vice president.

Since the Senate suspended Rousseff on May 12, Brazil’s stock market and currency have strengthened based on investor speculation that Temer, who has laid out policy proposals that favor private business, will be better for the economy.

Temer has implored the Senate to move quickly, saying that the “people need to know who the president is.” If Rousseff is found guilty, Temer will become the president until the next election is held in 2018.

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