During the Olympics, Brazil’s “interim president,” Michel Temer, fearing boos, broke protocol by demanding that his name not be announced when he appeared at the opening ceremony (he was widely booed anyway) and then hid entirely by skipping the closing ceremony. By stark contrast, the nation’s actually elected president, Dilma Rousseff, chose to go to the Senate today to confront her accusers, as the gang of corrupt operatives and criminals constituting the Brazilian Senate moves to the end of its impeachment trial, with the virtually inevitable result that the twice-elected Dilma will be removed. It’s the embodiment of cowardice versus courage:
The most remarkable aspect of all of this — and what fundamentally distinguishes this process from impeachment in, say, the U.S. — is that Dilma’s removal results in the empowerment of a completely different party that was not elected to the presidency. In fact — as my Intercept Brasil colleagues João Filho and Breno Costa documented this week — Dilma’s removal is empowering exactly the right-wing party, PSDB, that has lost four straight national elections, including one to Dilma just 21 months ago. In some cases, the very same people from that party who ran for president and lost are now in control of the nation’s key ministries.
As a result, the unelected government now about to take power permanently is preparing a series of policies — from suspending Brazil’s remarkably successful anti-illiteracy program, privatizing national assets, and “changing” various social programs to abandoning its regional alliances in favor of returned subservience to the U.S. — that was never ratified by the Brazilian population and could never be. Whether you want to call this a “coup” or not, it is the antithesis of democracy, a direct assault on it.
As Dilma entered the Senate, I discussed all of this on Democracy Now this morning, which you can watch (with Portuguese subtitles) on the video above (the English transcript is here; I also discussed various aspects of the 2016 campaign, which can be seen here and here).