In the eyes of the international media for the past days, Brazil is definitely going through dark times, especially when talking about government and democracy. In the last Sunday (17), the lower house of Congress, the Chamber of Deputies, voted for the president’s Dilma Rousseff’s impeachment. In a session that seemed more like a circus festival – with jokes, confetti explosion, families and religious dedications, hate speeches and tributes to the obscure military dictatorship period in the country (1964-1985) lauded by some deputies, from the 513 member the final vote was 367 for the impeachment, 137 against and 7 abstaining. Two deputies did not vote.
The objective of this article is to try to explain how the democracy in the country is suffering a coup. Dilma Rousseff was democratically elected by 54 million votes in 2014, running her second mandate since then. She is not being charged with any crimes. The “main” accusation against the president was that she delayed fund transfers to state banks than the finances could seem better than they actually were. Action also taken by former presidents in the country. But no responsibility crime was committed by the state leader.
The attempt to impeach the president is being led by the president of the lower house of the Congress Eduardo Cunha, with the support of the opposition government and part of the population. The main problem is that almost all of the deputies asking for this and that voted “yes”, including Mr. Cunha, are being charged of corruption and money laundry. Many of them were mentioned in the Operation Carwash – an investigation by the Brazilian federal police, public attorney and the judiciary into corruption schemes involving the government and construction companies. Some of the investigated deputies also have their names mentioned in the Panama Papers.
Rousseff is far away to be a good president. Herself and her Worker’s Party (PT) were involved in dozens of scandals as well, including the decline of the state-owned Petrobras, broken campaign promises and economy recession. This made her government and her figure as a president weak. After the big protests in 2013 and 2014, and the following ones in 2015, things were just going wrong for the president. Her lack of flexibility and communications with her partners made things worse and she was incapable to get all under control again. Losing preference every day by the Brazilian population, the opposition made their turn to get the impeachment process going on, also supported by a purchased and fully part big media. Even those who stayed by the government’s side before now have to admit that it lost its credibility.
Another important thing to mention was the betrayal of her vice president Michel Temer, now known in Brazil as “vice conspirator”. Days before the impeachment proceedings, Temer and his party (the conservative Democratic Movement party, PMDB – that also has Eduardo Cunha as a member) disbanded of the government alliance and made clear his betrayal with the president. It is naive to not admit that Dilma Russeff and the Worker’s Party are paying for their own choices. Also Ms. Russeff’s voters are not innocent in this process. The problem is that if the impeachment is confirmed, the next president will be a politician without votes – and the corrupt Eduardo Cunha will be his vice president. According to the Brazilian specialized poll company DataFolha, Michel Temer would have 1% to 2% of valid votes.
Now that the impeachment process was finally approved by the lower house of Congress, Eduardo Cunha will forward it to the senate, the upper house. If it is decided that the impeachment trial will be indeed conducted, Rousseff will be suspended for a maximum 180 days until the upper house decides her fate. She can still appeal to the Supreme Federal Tribunal, Brazil’s highest court. This is the second time Brazil votes for an impeachment process. The first one was in 1992, against the former president Fernando Collor de Mello.
Ms. Dilma Rousseff made a public speech in a press conference held on Monday (18). In her words, her feelings now are a mix of injustice and indignation. “I have courage, power, liveliness. I will not put a sad face to fight this. I will keep fighting as I always did throughout my life. Nobody will kill my hopefulness”, she said.
Another fact that conducts to the feeling of fear on these dark times for democracy is how oblivious the Brazilian population seems to be with all the process, even warned by the main media around the world (The New York Times, The Guardian, BBC and others) that what is going on is actually a coup. What prevails in the streets and social media is a celebration, sad and a war atmosphere. For those supporting the impeachment, it actually looks more like the relief of spoiled children when getting what they wanted. For those against it, it is just shame and sadness. However, no one else has the right to express themselves without being threatened and attacked.
The justifications of all sides ranges from the superficial “the people must show their power to its government”, to the most explanatory and professional ones. The biggest problem that everyone seems blind to is the economic and political instability that Brazil will be facing from now on. If Ms. Rousseff was considered a weak leader with a low credibility, imagine a next president with no votes by his population and a vice-president that is being investigated national and internationally. With no more direct elections during the process, it is a black stain and a coup against the Brazilian democracy, popular vote and direct elections.