News Release

Brazil: Why It’s a Coup


Screen Shot 2016-05-12 at 1.45.45 PMThe Guardian reports: “Less than halfway through her elected mandate, Dilma Rousseff was stripped of her presidential duties for up to six months on Thursday after the Senate voted to begin an impeachment trial.

“After a marathon 20-hour debate that one politician described as the ‘saddest day for Brazil’s young democracy,’ senators voted 55 to 22 to suspend the Workers’ party leader, putting economic problems, political paralysis and alleged fiscal irregularities ahead of the 54 million votes that put her in office.

“Rousseff, Brazil’s first female president, will have to step aside while she is tried in the upper house for allegedly manipulating government accounts ahead of the previous election. Her judges will be senators, many of whom are accused of more serious wrongdoing.”

The Guardian notes that a new election, favored by many Brazilians as a way of stabilizing the situation “has been ruled out by Vice President Michel Temer, who has now maneuvered to replace his running mate. He has spent the past few weeks canvassing candidates for the center-right administration he is now expected to form. Advance lists of ministerial posts in the domestic media suggest his first cabinet will be entirely male and overwhelmingly white.”

ALEXANDER MAIN, via Dan Beeton, beeton at, @ceprdc
Main is senior associate on international policy at the Center for Economic and Policy Research, specializing in Latin America. He said today: “Rousseff’s opponents have been searching for a way to oust her since the beginning of her term.” See pieces by his colleague, Mark Weisbrot: “Washington’s Dog-Whistle Diplomacy Supports Attempted Coup in Brazil” and “Has the Left Run its Course in Latin America?

MARIA LUISA MENDONÇA, marialuisam222 at
Currently in the U.S., Mendonça is director of Brazil’s Network for Social Justice and Human Rights. She is also a professor in the international relations department at the University of Rio De Janeiro.

She said today: “The vote in the Senate was predicable since most of the senators had already expressed their opinions. But this has been a political trial. It’s not about the alleged reason for the impeachment. If the same criteria used against her were used against state governors, 16 of them would be impeached. They all used the same mechanism to cover a budget shortfall. You can’t impeach a president because you don’t like him or her. That’s why we call this a coup.

“Temer is incredibly unpopular — he has two percent support. He’s already naming a new cabinet, which is highly legally questionable. He’s moving a rightwing agenda to cut education and healthcare and abolish the culture ministry.

“He and over half of Congress members in the Lower House and in the Senate are under investigation for corruption and now have much more power over federal police and the legislature to try to prevent those investigations from moving forward.”

Glenn Greenwald notes in “Brazil’s Democracy to Suffer Grievous Blow as Unelectable, Corrupt Neoliberal is Installed,” that: “Her successor will be Vice President Michel Temer of the PMDB party. So unlike impeachment in most other countries with a presidential system, impeachment here will empower a person from a different party than that of the elected President. In this particular case, the person to be installed is awash in corruption: accused by informants of involvement in an illegal ethanol-purchasing scheme, he was just found guilty of, and fined for, election spending violations and faces an eight-year-ban on running for any office.”