The impeachment of Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff is a coup d’état
With the likely impeachment of Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff (and likely her VP Michel Temer) impending, the fate of Brazil is uncertain, as the nation will host the Olympics this August. She is one of the many politicians in that country involved in the Operação Lava Jato (Operation Car Wash) scandal.
The Câmara dos Deputados (Chamber of Deputies) voted to impeach her on April 17th, 2016 with a 367–137–7–2 vote, of which Deputado Bruno Araújo was the 342nd Yes vote. The Senado Federal will vote in the next few days whether to remove her from office.
First off, I’d like to lay bare that I voted for Dilma and I’ve regretted it. I now feel betrayed and misled by a candidate who, once re-elected, did exactly the opposite of what she promised during elections. I would never vote for Aécio Neves, who I consider to be worse in absolutely every aspect when compared with Dilma, but if the elections were today, and knowing now the direction the Dilma government would eventually steer us, I would have annulled my vote in the second round. The option to change my vote, however, just doesn’t exist, history doesn’t move backward.
This does not give a free pass to Dilma or PT with regard to their responsibility in their own current level of corruption. Noting specifically their failure to push forward, together with Congress, reforms which would make changes to electoral campaign financing and the conditions of policy implementation. However, whoever thinks that money from contractors that went to the PT is rotten and what went to the coffers of the PSDB, PMDB and the other parties is clean money, donated of pure benevolence and without any hidden interest is either very innocent indeed or, simply put, a hypocrite.
It is for these reasons that the impeachment is a coup. Not a classic coup d’état with the army marching through the streets removing elected officials by force. But, yes, a coup against the democratic state of law through the arbitrary disobedience of its laws. A coup against political stability by generating insecurity and unpredictability for all elected officials. A coup against the majority of Brazilians who, in the coming years, will have see its rights come under a terrible attack.
In summary, a coup against politics and democracy itself. This coup attempts to remove a president legitimately elected by an absolute majority of the population, in order to put in her place a person who did not receive any votes and who will act in the name of private interests, attempting to maintain old economic privileges and the old and true practice of impunity that has always reigned in Brazilian society.
But actually slavery still exists in Brazil, in the Amazon (as I wrote about in Fordlandia, based on this Bloomberg investigation), and increasingly on the interior’s soybean plantations. Modern-day slavery is, as an official with the Ministry of Labor put it, a “key part of the globalized, export-oriented economy Brazil thrives on.” Workers are coerced either through violence or debt to provide uncompensated labor and forced to endure the most inhumane conditions. They forge pig iron that goes into Brazil’s steel industry, harvest soy, clear rainforests, cut sugar cane, and serve as domestic workers.
One of the first things the PT government did when it took office in 2003, after Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva won the presidency, was to create a “dirty list” of “hundreds of companies and individual employers who were investigated by labor prosecutors and found to be using slaves. Blacklisted employers are blocked from receiving government loans and have restrictions placed on sales of their products.” The PT also stepped up efforts to “emancipate” modern slaves: “In 2003 a national plan to eradicate slave labor updated the criminal statute and introduced a system of labor prosecutors and judges.” Between 2003 and 2015, “the government has rescued 44,483 workers from what it calls ‘conditions analogous to slavery.’”
Slavery, however relatively small to Brazil’s larger labor market, represents the thin edge of a larger principle: the right of Brazil’s elites to exploit humans and nature as ruthlessly as they will. As is widely reported, Brazil’s twice-elected president stands today a hair’s breadth away from being removed from office, which might happen as early as the first week in May. Her ouster can be called many things, among them a media coup and a constitutional coup. At least in part, it’s also a slavers’ coup.
His comments reflect the growing influence of the “bullets, beef and Bible” (BBB) caucus, which aims to strengthen the military, expand agriculture and tighten restrictions on abortion, gay marriage and secular education.
“I’m now the second most ‘liked’ politician in Brazil,” Feliciano says as he opens up a laptop to display a social network ranking that puts him — with more than 3.5m likes — well ahead of the soon-to-be-removed president.
Close behind, he pointed out, was his controversial party colleague, Jair Bolsonaro, a former army captain and apologist for the 1964–1985 military dictatorship who caused a storm during the lower house impeachment debate by dedicating his vote to a notorious torturer of political prisoners from the 1970s, Carlos Alberto Brilhante Ustra.
In March, Feliciano’s Social Christian party was joined by Bolsonaro. It was in many ways a political marriage between the most radical evangelical and the most controversial militarist, who together hope to conceive a new generation of ultra-right governments. Bolsonaro brings backing from a wealthy Catholic elite to Feliciano’s grassroots campaign network of evangelical churches.
Jean Wyllys, a leftwing deputy with the Socialism and Liberty party, said he feared “fascism could re-emerge in the form of Bolsonaro” at the next election in 2018. Wyllys, a professor who was the first congressman to be elected on an LGBT rights platform, has arguably been the fiercest opponent of the extreme right and could one day be their challenger in a presidential race. During the impeachment vote, he engaged in a spitting battle with Bolsonaro and his supporters.
Rousseff slammed her opponents on Tuesday, arguing that sexism has influenced the impeachment procedures and that she has been “treated like no one else.”
In particular, she criticized Jair Bolsonaro, an arch-conservative lawmaker in the lower house and another presumptive presidential hopeful. Known for his bigotry, Bolsonaro dedicated his impeachment vote on Sunday to Col. Carlos Alberto Brilhante Ustra, a man responsible for the disappearance and torture of hundreds of activists during Brazil’s military dictatorship.
Rousseff, a guerrilla during the dictatorship, was also tortured. “I was imprisoned in the 70s, in fact, I knew this man … very well. He was one of the biggest torturers in Brazil,” she said.
There are worse and far more politicians in Brazil than Dilma that deserve impeachment, most notably Jair Bolsonaro and Eduardo Cunha. However, this does NOT excuse what she did at all.
In conclusion, impeaching Dilma will lead to a coup d’état orchestrated by right-wing forces akin to what they pulled off against João Goulart in 1964 (only this time, they are doing the Goularting in Congress, and not by the military junta) is a horrible idea.
NOTE: [a/to] Goulart/Goularted/Goularting = the act of overthrowing or impeaching a left-leaning leader and replacing one with a right-leaning one.