Brazil’s lower house of Congress on Sunday voted to impeach the country’s President, Dilma Rousseff, sending the removal process to the Senate. In an act of unintended though rich symbolism, the House member who pushed impeachment over the 342-vote threshold was Dep. Bruno Araújo, himself implicated by a document indicating he may have received illegal funds from the construction giant at the heart of the nation’s corruption scandal. Even more significantly, Araújo belongs to the center-right party PSDB, whose nominees have lost four straight national elections to Rousseff’s moderate-left PT party, with the last ballot-box defeat being delivered just 18 months ago, when 54 million Brazilians voted to re-elect Dilma as president.
Those two facts about Araújo underscore the unprecedentedly surreal nature of yesterday’s proceedings in Brasília, capital of the world’s fifth largest country. Politicians and parties which have spent two decades trying, and failing, to defeat PT in democratic elections triumphantly marched forward to effectively overturn the 2014 vote by removing Dilma on grounds that, as today’s New York Times report makes clear, are, at best, dubious in the extreme. Even The Economist, which has long despised the PT and its anti-poverty programs and which wants Dilma to resign, has argued that “in the absence of proof of criminality, impeachment is unwarranted” and it “looks like a pretext for ousting an unpopular president.”
Sunday’s proceedings, conducted in the name of combatting corruption, were presided over by one of the democratic world’s most blatantly corrupt politicians, House speaker Eduardo Cunha, who was recently discovered to have stashed millions of dollars in secret Swiss Bank accounts that have no possible non-corrupt source and who lied under oath when he denied to Congressional investigators that he had foreign bank accounts. Of the 594 members of the House, as The Globe and Mail reported yesterday, “318 are under investigation or face charges” while their target, President Rousseff, “herself faces no allegation of financial impropriety.”
Many on the Brazilian left believe that the US is actively engineering the current instability in their country in order to get rid of a left-wing party that has relied heavily on trade with China, and instead usher in a more pro-business, pro-US government which could never win an election on its own.
Although no real evidence has emerged proving this theory, a little-publicized trip to the US this week by a key Brazilian opposition leader will likely fuel those concerns. Today – the day after the impeachment vote – Sen. Aloysio Nunes of the PSDB will be in Washington to undertake three days of meetings with various US officials as well as with lobbyists and assorted influence-peddlers close to Clinton and other leading political figures.
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