Thursday, 1 September 2016

Impeachement in Brazil

Brazil Senate votes 61-20 to impeach President Rousseff for breaking budget laws

31 August, 2016

Nine months of political paralysis in Brazil have come to an end after the upper house of Brazil’s parliament decisively voted to strip Dilma Rousseff of her presidency for budgetary violations committed during her term.

Sixty-one senators voted for the impeachment, with only 20 standing by the president, who was suspended in May for manipulating data to conceal the scale of economic problems that have piled up since she assumed power five years ago.

Veja como votaram os senadores

Senado mantém direito de Dilma de exercer função pública.
But 68-year-old Rousseff was handed a lifeline after the Senate voted not to bar her from holding government office for the next eight years. According to the constitution, an impeached president faces this ban by default, but Chief Justice Ricardo Lewandowski, presiding over the hearing, allowed a separate vote on the matter. Forty-two senators voted in favor of Rousseff, and 36 against, with three abstentions.

Conservative Vice-President Michel Temer, who has deputized for socialist Rousseff since her de facto ouster three months ago, was sworn in as president later on Wednesday, and will serve out the remaining two years of her term.

Posse de Michel Temer como presidente da República será às 16h
True to form, in her last speech Rousseff was defiant in the face of accusations, and made a futile call on the senators to “vote for democracy,” accusing her political opponents of staging a “coup.”

"Today's legal farce removes me from the position I was elected to by the people," Rousseff said in her personal blog after the impeachment. "The will of 61 senators has replaced that of 54,5 million people who voted for me."

Rousseff’s lawyer immediately said she would appeal the impeachment through the Supreme Court.

"Right now I will not say goodbye to you. I am certain I can say, 'See you soon,'" Rousseff said to a gathering of her supporters in capital Brasilia after the session.

Rousseff - the country's first female leader - is also the first Brazilian leader to be dismissed from office since 1992, when Fernando Collor de Mello resigned before a final vote in his impeachment trial for corruption.

Hard road ahead for Temer

While Rousseff’s budget-balancing tricks, which included delaying government repayments to banks to underplay the deficit, are thought to have also been used by her predecessors, the former guerrilla fighter’s popularity has cratered: Brazil suffered six consecutive quarters of negative growth and is mired in corruption scandals implicating officials close to the outgoing president.

Nonetheless, Rousseff’s ousting means a sea change for a country that was ruled by the left-wing Workers’ Party for the past 13 years. Its activists have been staging thousands-strong protests in support of the deposed politician, and are expected to resume them following the latest decision.

Meanwhile, Temer, a 75-year-old career politician, who is ironically himself barred from running for office due to electoral violations, faces an uphill task.

His financial reforms, reeling back from the lavish social spending of Rousseff’s administration, have curried favor with investors, but not the electorate, with his cabinet’s popularity ratings no higher than those of his predecessor.

American economic adviser David Riedel said that the country now had no chance but to embrace economic reforms, in the wake of a fall of commodity prices that led to the rise Rousseff, and her predecessor Luiz Inacio Lula.

International investors will give Brazil the benefit of the doubt. So if they become more business-friendly, and investor friendly, and cut back on the profligate spending, which is an issue across South America, investors will give Brazil a second look,” he told RT.

Temer will also shoulder the difficult task of restoring Brazil’s credibility abroad, which has suffered in recent months, after years when the country was seen as the shining light of the continent’s economy. Temer is due to travel to China to participate in the upcoming G20 meeting in Hangzhou.

Sympathizers at home and abroad express fury

Meanwhile the government of longtime Rousseff ally Venezuela has already said that it is freezing relations with Brazil and recalling its ambassador following the impeachment. Ecuador and Bolivia have also called back its top diplomats in Brasilia.

Several experts interviewed by RT condemned proceedings, and claimed that Wednesday’s decision would give rise to a new cycle of active unrest.

This was not a real trial for Rousseff. Most of the senators had made up their minds before, and there was no legal reason for the prosecution” said Maria Mendonca, from the University of Rio de Janeiro.

She is going to lead the process of what this government will do – so expect something pretty Earth-shaking,” Francisco Domninguez from the University of Middlesex. “Already there are protests on the streets. The Landless Workers Movement, the large trade unions will all come together, and this will be – in their eyes – a class struggle.”

Brazil’s Dilma Rousseff, a Woman of Honor, Confronts Senate of Scoundrels
Pepe Escobar

31 August, 2016

Dilma Rousseff entered the Senate and calmly stared down her accusers. She left with her head held high after exhorting those Senators to vote with their conscience.

Most of those politicians present probably had no idea what conscience means; they’re no more than corrupt messenger boys. But the Brazilian collective unconscious – Jung to the rescue – will be marked.

President Dilma Rousseff, in a detailed, occasionally emotional speech, defended herself with honor and dignity from accusations she committed a “crime of responsibility”. She was not actually facing a political cesspool, but that ‘Angel of History’ so beloved by Walter Benjamin. History will judge her kindly.
Meanwhile, it ain’t over till a dodgy politico sings. As I write, Rousseff is on the way to be stripped from the presidency of the world’s 8th largest economy by a bunch of scoundrel-cum-coward politicos. Her only fear, she said, was the “death of democracy”. Rousseff’s impeachment means in practice that democratic voting in one of the world’s largest democracies will be cancelled by a parliamentary coup remote-controlled by oligarchic interests. This is not, and never was, about justice; it’s about dirty, nasty politics.
There is no techno-bureaucrat argument whatsoever capable of proving the President should be impeached because of state budget maneuvers that did not yield a single cent for her pockets, or to the detriment of the Treasury – and this in an astonishingly corruption-infested nation.
If we had to rely on a single formulation to explain this charade to a global audience this should be it: The current parliamentary/institutional/big business/big banking/corporate media coup is the tool used by Brazilian oligarchs to smash the wealth distribution drive that preceded, via President Lula, the US-provoked global 2008 crisis of capitalism.
The Lula and subsequent Dilma presidencies had adopted a very Chinese “win-win” model. There was a sort of unwritten pact between social classes: The rich got even richer while the poor got less poor.

But then the crisis hit BRICS member Brazil with a vengeance. There was no Plan B – apart from exporting commodities; the boom was over and traitors/conspirators in the opposition saw an opening to reclaim power on the wheels of the highly selective ‘Car Wash’ corruption investigation. And yet, this being KafkaLand, the parliamentary impeachment drive against Dilma is in fact a diversionary tactic devised to “tame” Car Wash, so it wouldn’t hit oligarch-controlled right-wing politicians.

The vultures and their master plan

Emir Sader, one of Brazil’s top sociologists, has summed up what lies ahead: major social and political conflict; military/police repression; tearing up of the social contract; the nation reduced to a mere US vassal; an unelected, illegitimate government with no autonomy, sovereignty and geopolitically sidelined. All the while being “led” by currently interim, and President-to-be Michel Temer, a mediocre, corrupt coward who didn’t even have the balls to attend the Olympics’ final ceremony because he knew he would be booed out of a packed Maracana stadium.

Welcome to post-coup Brazil: Land of permanent crisis, a powerless, illegitimate, corrupt government, economic recession, and unemployment. As Sader noted, “everything positive that Brazil built this century will be thrown out by a coup.”
Temer the Usurper could never aspire to Shakespearean grandeur, as a tragic figure. He’s already been connected to almost $3 million in kickbacks. The current Foreign Minister, the despicable Jose Serra, a Chevron asset, has been accused of receiving over $6 million, including overseas.
Yet further serious accusations would have targeted right-wing political parties even harder – utter devastation extended to at least half of Congress – until they were magically “disqualified” by purposeful leaks. There’s the rub: in the current Kafkaesque set up, only the “reds” – as in the Workers’ Party – can be criminalized. Most of these shenanigans will feature in at least four documentaries currently in production about the sorry saga.

Immediately after Dilma’s impeachment, the Senate plans to throw what literally amounts to a fiscal party – based on raised salaries for Supreme Court ministers; these salaries regulate the remuneration of all Brazilian public service. Remember that Dilma is being accused of“fiscal irresponsibility”.

Many scoundrels/vultures will be dividing the spoils of a dead democracy. What matters is that the number one profiteer of impeachment will be the Goddess of the Market. That also includes Big Business, mainstream media (a monopoly of five families) and of course, Exceptionalistan. Their mandate is clear. The presidency is just a detail. What they need to control is the Finance Ministry and the Central Bank.
Their policies are ready to be implemented: smash the incipient Brazilian welfare state; keep interest rates in the stratosphere; impose a “fiscal adjustment”; and allow capital free flow. Things like this only actually happens in certified dictatorships.

Now they’ve got the power, the neoliberal ideology and all the necessary political alliances to pull it off. Add to this a non-stop offensive against the Workers’ Party as a means to counter-punch the accusations against Temer the Usurper and his mediocre chancellor Serra.
So what’s next? The highly fragmented, hyper-conservative Congress will circle their wagons against anything that threatens their privileges. The Attorney General will hardly have the temerity to really investigate Temer the Usurper and other politicians. Although there is serious evidence of corruption against them all,the impregnable juridical/political/police/media shield protecting the scoundrel galaxy is astonishing. We are deep into protection of organized crime territory.
Non-stop back room deals are in progress as we speak. The only certainty ahead is the assassination of democratic and constitutional rights and the smashing of social programs.
As I already detailed, the master plan ahead is vicious, straight from disaster capitalism’s playbook; selling out the pre-salt oil reserves to foreign, as in US corporate, interests; selling out indigenous Brazilian industrial development via hardcore privatization; abandoning the defense of Brazilian engineering know-how; severe cuts on education, health, science and technology; At the same time, there will be“flexibilization” of workers’ rights, as in attacking them on all fronts; a regressive attack on pensions; and sabotaging Mercosur – the South American common market – to the benefit of vassal subordination to US interests.

In the end, Rouseff will exit with her head held high. As for the Angel of History, he will show the scoundrels no mercy.
This piece first appeared at RT.

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