News Release

Coup in Brazil?


1460948345340The New York Times reports: “Dilma Rousseff Is Impeached by Brazil’s Lower House of Congress,” which states: “After three days of impassioned debate, the lower house of Congress, the Chamber of Deputies, voted to send the case against [President Dilma] Rousseff to the Senate. Its 81 members will vote by a simple majority on whether to hold a trial on charges that the president illegally used money from state-owned banks to conceal a yawning budget deficit in an effort to bolster her re-election prospects. That vote is expected to take place next month.”

MARK WEISBROT, weisbrot at
Weisbrot is co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research and has written extensively about Latin America. He recently wrote the piece “Brazilian Coup Threatens Democracy and National Sovereignty,” which states: “there is no evidence that [Rousseff] is linked to the ‘Lava Jato’ scandal, or any other corruption. Rather, she is accused of an accounting manipulation that somewhat misrepresented the fiscal position of the government — something that prior presidents have done. To borrow an analogy from the United States, when the Republicans refused to raise the debt ceiling in the U.S. in 2013, the Obama administration used a number of accounting tricks to postpone the deadline at which the limit was reached. Nobody cared.

“The impeachment campaign — which the government has correctly labelled a coup — is an effort by Brazil’s traditional elite to obtain by other means what they have not been able to win at the ballot box for the past 12 years.”

Director of the Latin American Studies Program at the University of San Francisco, Santos is among the Latin America scholars to sign the petition “Brazilian Democracy is Seriously Threatened,” which states: “The combat against corruption is legitimate and necessary to improve the responsiveness of Brazilian democracy. But in the current political climate, we find a serious risk that the rhetoric of anti-corruption has been used to destabilize the current democratically-elected government, further aggravating the serious economic and political crisis that the country is facing.

“Instead of retaining political neutrality and respecting due process, sectors of the Judiciary, with the support of major media interests, have become protagonists in undermining the rule of law. … The violation of democratic procedure represents a serious threat to democracy. When the armed forces overthrew the government of President João Goulart in 1964, they used the combat against corruption as one of their justifications.”

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

She highlights the role of social movements against the impeachment. For example, see the website of the MST, the Landless Workers Movement in Brazil, which features “Ten Facts that Brazil and the World Should Know,” which states: “This is precisely why the request for impeachment constitutes a coup d’etat, because a president can only be removed if he or she is found to have committed a crime — and as a crime did not occur, so far, Dilma’s name has not been presented in any corruption investigations: not even the slightest suspicion against her exists.

“Unlike President Dilma, the politicians calling for her dismissal are corrupt and are as dirty as they come. Eduardo Cunha (PMDB-RJ) who, as chairman of the House is responsible for the impeachment process, has received more than 52 million Brazilian Rs. (BR$) from corrupt schemes undertaken in Petrobras, plus he has millions deposited in secret accounts in Switzerland and other tax havens. Of the 65 members of the Parliamentary Commission that will investigate the request for impeachment 37 (more than half!) are under the watchful eye of the Justice Department and are being investigated for corruption. If they manage to depose the president, in exchange they expect to see the charges against them for the fraud they have committed dropped.”