Response to the Times
On August 17, 2015, the Editorial Board of the Times wrote a piece defending Brazil’s president Dilma Roussef whose impeachment would “do serious damage to a democracy…without any balancing benefits.” The article argued that Dilma “admirably made no effort to constrain or influence the investigations” and cited her “consistent emphasis that no one is above the law” and support of a new term for the Prosecutor general in charge of the Petrobras scandal as evidence. I believe the Editorial was grossly mistaken in its conclusions for not considering the full facts and reality in Brazil.
A few weeks ago the Federal Audit Court concluded in a report that the president violated accounting rules in 2013 and 2014 when her government illegally borrowed money from state banks without Congress’ authorization and then broke another law when it failed to report these loans. The president recently admitted the wrongdoing but justified it by saying the actions were needed to pay social benefits. Nevertheless, she lies claiming her opponents want to mount a coup to take over her job, which is blatantly false. Impeachment is a political process explicitly written in the Brazilian Constitution. Dilma could aslo elucidate this “coincidence”: Paulo Roberto Costa, infamously known for arranging the payment of hundreds of billions of dollars in bribes at Petrobras, had always been very close to her; he was even invited to the president’s daughter’s wedding.
All of this was widely known when the Times wrote the opinion and the Audit report was mainly a subsequent formality, as the Court’s findings only serves to orient Congress in technical aspects; members of the Court had already expressed how they would vote: reject the government accounts. Moreover, Brazil’s constitution expresses that the president must “hold subordinates accountable” and “act properly, with the honor and decorum of the job.” She did neither by publicly defending her party’s corrupt treasurer on several occasions until he was arrested by the police. Dilma also kept repeating that there was no corruption at Petrobras and everything was a ploy to tarnish her 2014 candidacy, even after mounting evidence and testimonies had been leaked to the press. It’s worth mentioning that the scandal was happening under her nose while she was the Chair of the Board of Petrobras.
In addition, a major line has been drawn this week that indicates the fall of democracy in the country. Several protesters — in Occupy Wall Street fashion — camped by Congress to pacifically protest for the president’s impeachment. During a congressional session, the House leader from Dilma’s party incited violence by saying that he was going outside to physically fight the protesters and rousing some allied “social groups” to fight with him. The following day, “social groups” MST and MTST, both known for violence, arrived at the camp to remove and hurt the pacific protesters with rocks and pointed objects. The Congress police did nothing to prevent this, simply staring at the scene. More than that, the local press largely ignored the event, in a clear sign of “criminal journalism.”
I could go on citing other absurdities that have been going on in the country for some time, but this is the job of reputable news organizations such as The New York Times. To prevent the ruin of local democracy, Dilma must be impeached since she continuously says she will not resign. It’s shameful enough that a group of three local renowned jurists had to file a request in the House for her impeachment while Congress did not independently reach the conclusion that there was ample and clear legal evidence to warrant her ousting. I recommend the Times Editorial to read the request and reach a different conclusion than that expressed in its August piece.