“I’m outraged by this decision. … I will not be beaten, I will not be paralyzed. I will continue to fight and I will fight as I did all my life.” Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff sounded her resilience with reporters after the House gave a green light for her impeachment on Sunday with two-thirds of the votes.
Within 48 hours, a Senate special committee, appointed Tuesday, will have to choose its president and the rapporteur. With Thursday a holiday, a decision is expected next week. Later, the commission will have 10 days to study the case against Rousseff and prepare a report that will be discussed and submitted to vote in the plenary of the Senate, which will decide — by a simple majority — whether to table or send the process forward.
If the case is accepted by the Senate, Rousseff will be suspended from office for 180 days and replaced by Vice President Michel Temer, who is also facing impeachment for allegedly rigging the government budget to make it appear better to voters. If Rousseff also loses in the commission vote, the senators will decide (by a two-thirds majority) whether to direct the president’s case to the Federal Supreme Court.
“Temer is the return of inequality in Brazil,” said the leader of the Landless Workers’ Party, Joao Pedro Stedile.
For days, parties and social movements on the left have been mobilizing against what they call an “institutional coup” set in motion by a discredited and corrupt right. The speaker of parliament, Eduardo Cunha, who initiated the impeachment, is being investigated for misappropriation of public money and dishonesty, and has so far managed to avoid jail thanks to parliamentary immunity.
Three journalists who made public the Datagate scandal brought to light by the Edward Snowden leaks — Glenn Greenwald, Andrew Fishman and David Miranda — have denounced opposition senators who took a three-day trip to the U.S. immediately after the impeachment vote, including Aloysio Nunes, of the PSDB. Nunes met with various U.S. officials, some of whom are close to Hillary Clinton. Nunes, a 2014 presidential candidate for the PSDB who ran against Rousseff, is now weaving the threads of impeachment in the Senate.
Greenwald recalls the controversy, supported by Rousseff during Datagate, when it turned out that the NSA had spied on both her and the state oil company, Petrobras. Washington does not consider Brazil a safe place for its capital, particularly if, in 2018, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva returned to the presidency. Rousseff has appointed him chief of the cabinet, but the courts have blocked the appointment.
On the other hand, the journalists point out, the U.S. has a long history of interference and destabilization in Latin America, which continued even after the military coup in Brazil in 1964, that the right came to regret: in 2002 against Hugo Chavez, then in Haiti against Jean-Bertrand Aristide.
And the support of then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for the coup against Manuel Zelaya in Honduras was crucial, as she herself admits. Against Rousseff, a procedure is underway similar to that which, in 2012, overthrew the former bishop Fernando Lugo in Paraguay. Also on that occasion, Vice President Federico Franco ended the brief progressive movement, bringing the country to the right.