BRAZILIAN POLITICS: A SHORT OVERVIEW

BY: Michaell Lange,

London, 01/09/16 –

Brazilian politics have come to a dramatic new low this week when the democratic elected President Dilma Rousseff, was impeached by the Senate for allegedly crime of responsibility. She was accused of manipulating figures to hide deficits on government budgets though, most of Brazilian Presidents, as well as state governors, have done the same in the past and were never prosecuted for any wrong doing. It’s a fact. Manipulate figures to hide holes in the budget is a common practice in all levels of Brazilian government and Dilma Rousseff was not an exception. But this is the least of the problems. Most of the Senators and federal deputies participating in this impeachment process have been accused of much more serious crimes.

National and international media, have also been reporting confusing and misleading views about what is really going on in Brazil. An Sky News correspondent reporting from Washington has said on TV that the Impeachment is part of a clean up on Brazilian politics when it is actually the opposite. A twit outlined it perfectly: “Imagine a country where the biggest anti-corruption operation in its history ended up with all the accused taking power?” That is a fact! Some Brazilian news papers the day after the impeachment said in the first page “A new chapter” and “Viva Democracy”. Similarities to the day after the military coup in 1964 was disturbing to say the least.

The whole political crises started with the reelection of Dilma Rousseff as Brazilian President in October 2014. She defeated Aécio Neves from the PSDB party which formed a coalition with other right wing parties to try to put an end on a 13 years of leftist government; first elected in 2003 with Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva from the Brazilian labour party, the PT. During the 8 years of Lula´s presidency, Brazil grew like never before. Social inclusion and other social programs have pulled over 30 million Brazilians from extreme poverty. By the end of his second mandate his approval rate were over 80%. His charm and charisma made Lula a global figure. For the next presidencial election he appointed a successful technocrat from his government, a friend, and also militant that has fought with the rebels during the military regime between 1964 and 1985. Dilma Rousseff, was arrested and tortured by the military regime. She survived 20 years of military dictatorship and guerrilla warfare that killed many of her friends. She is also a cancer survival. She was Minister of Mines and Energy and Chief of Staff in Lula´s government. But until 2011 she has never been elected. Dilma was an experienced technocrat, but she was not a politician. She haven’t even a fraction of Lula´s charisma, but she was the first woman to be elected president of the 7th biggest economy in the world. Lula was so powerful that it is said that if he had appointed a homeless he would probably be elected. While Lula became a global figure, Dilma decided to concentrate inwards. As Brazil was taken by a serious of corruption scandals involving mainly her own party, she gave freedom for the Federal Police and the supreme court to investigate and arrest anybody, close to her or not. Some of PTs senior members such as the ex-Minister José Dirceu and the national president of PT, José Genoíno were both found guilt of corruption and sent to prison. No such thing has ever happened in Brazil before! The scandals of corruption has weakened the labour party though. The slow down of Chinese economy also put an end on Brazils economic boom. Dilma Rousseff also started to show weaknesses in leadership. Despite her true patriotism and sensitivity regarding social issues, she was not competente enough or a leader as such, and that’s a fact. She was a horrible speaker and communicator. Comedians targeted her for her countless gaffes. Differently from her predecessor Lula, she was unable to work and make alliances with the opposition. The fact that she was a woman, also made it difficult to deal with an extreme conservative and sexist Brazilian right wing politicians. The right wing in Brazil are formed mainly by the evangelical bench, the military bench (also know as the bullet bench), and the ruralists. When they united against Dilma Rousseff her fate was set, and the country was going to pay the price for this political struggle.

The opposition, led by Aécio Neves from PSDB, thought that PT was finished and had no chance to win the next presidential election that was held in October 2014. In fact, if the opposition had a better candidate than the playboy Aécio Neves, they would almost certainly have won the election, but they messed up big time and lost the election by a small margin.

The Federal Police investigations were by then, starting to catch up with many of the opposition leaders and their political parties, including Aécio Neves. The so called OPERAÇÃO LAVA JATO or OPERATION CAR WASH, the same Federal Police operation that led to the arrest of José Dirceu and José Genoíno from PT for corruption, were now focused on a pile of evidence of corruption and money laundering involving most of the top members of the opposition parties. Most of the accusations were down to millions of pounds received by political parties and politicians under the carpet from big corporations in exchange of multibillionaire government contracts. Nevertheless, some of these politicians were involved in far serious crimes. Perhaps the most serious case became known as the “helicoca”. In 2013 an investigation carried out by the Brazilian Federal Police to combat narcotraffic led to the arrest of a helicopter with half a ton of pure cocaine in a farm in the State of Espirito Santo. The helicopter was found to belong to Zezé Perrella, a Senator and very close friend and political ally of Aécio Neves, the right wing candidate for president which is also known for his addictions to drugs and playboy life style. The media (mostly controlled by right wing politicians), gave very little coverage to the case and at the end, nobody was formally accused or prosecuted. The helicopter was returned to its owner, the pilot which was a Mr Perrella employee, were released without charge and the drug disappeared in thin air. Another case involving a supporter for the impeachment was the former Governor for the State of São Paulo and former Mayor of the city of São Paulo,  Paulo Maluff, also a close ally of Aécio Neves. He has been sentenced to 2 years in prison by the French justice for money laundering and countless accusations of corruption. Eduardo Cunha, the president of the Brazilian Chamber of Deputy and currently suspended for corruption and money laundering accusations, was also an articulator of the impeachment and voted to remove Dilma this week despite his conditions with the Law. The president of the national Senate, Renan Calheiros, has also been accused of corruption and money laundering and countless accusations of corruption. In total, over 60% of all Senators and Deputies who voted for the impeachment of Dilma Rousseff are either under the Federal Police investigation, or have already been found guilty of corruption and other crimes. Even Michel Temer, the successor of Dilma Rousseff has been under Federal Police investigation. The Brazilian Federal Police has strong evidence against all of the accused and the OPERATION CAR WASH was closing in on them very fast before the impeachment. But now with Dilma out, everything changed.

When Dilma Rousseff was suspended by the Senate Chamber earlier this year, her interim Michel Temer, now permanent successor, was quickly to create his own new cabinet which included 8 Ministers under investigation for corruption and money laundering. It is also composed entirely by white men. All of them, including the President, now enjoy parliamentary immunity against any previous accusations or investigation by OPERATION CAR WASH. It means that even if the Federal Police found them guilty of any crime, none of them will be prosecuted or arrested. Moreover, immediately after been sworn in as the new Brazilian President, Michel Temer started to work with his new cabinet to change Oil exploration rules introduced by Former president Lula, which gives the state Oil giant Petrobras, superior powers to control the Oil industry in the country. The new President is planing to give more freedom over the Oil exploration in Brazil to international firms and  to start plans to privatise Petrobras. The urgency in which he was dealing with this subject has raised some eyebrows. He also started almost immediately, to cut workers’ rights, giving more freedom to employers to fire employees. He is rolling back many of social polices and programmes introduced by Lula including the finance of athletes. Michel Temer also ended the Ministry of Culture.

The impeachment of Dilma Rousseff most certainly put an end to OPERATION CAR WASH. The top people being investigated by the Federal Police are now in Michel Temers cabinet and protected by Parliamentary immunity. The impeachment also dumped the democratic election of 2014. It actually, overturned the result. It turned democracy in its head as the people in power today are exactly the ones who lost the election back in 2014. Despite all the evidence, they still deny the coup d’état. If it’s not a coup, it’s hard to know what that would it be. As the people protested at Paulista Avenue against the impeachment, a woman was shot in the eye by a rubber bullet from the military police. She lost the left eye. A big protest set for this coming Sunday (4) was outlawed by Michel Temer who also ordered the army to “maintain security” on the streets. It seems it’s not just a coup, it’s increasingly more likely to be a declaration of war against Brazilian people.

 

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