Let’s get this over with fast. Despite what you may have read in the media, Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff was not impeached. She was illegally removed in a congressional coup d’etat stage-managed by Brazil’s rancid old oligarchy.
Current president Michel Temer — popularity ranking: 3 percent — is a total crook, even being caught on tape talking about taking a bribe, and was a long-time supporter of the old military regime that took power with the help of the U.S. government (and media) in 1964 and which directly ruled until 1986.
Dilma may not be perfect, but she is a heroic figure and former leftist guerrilla who fought the dictatorship. A 2012 New York Times profile says:
Her nom de guerre was Estela. Part of a shadowy urban guerrilla group at the time of her capture in 1970, she spent three years behind bars, where interrogators repeatedly tortured her with electric shocks to her feet and ears, and forced her into the pau de arara, or parrot’s perch, in which victims are suspended upside down naked, from a stick, with bound wrists and ankles.
While a 1979 amnesty still shields military officials from prosecution for abuses, the commission, which began in May and has a two-year mandate, is nevertheless stirring up ghosts. The dictatorship killed an estimated 400 people; torture victims are thought to number in the thousands.
Most mainstream accounts say Dilma was “impeached” in late-2016, but that’s bullshit. The Brazilian right and center, with slavish support from the local and U.S. media and government — had her removed in a congressionally-led coup over bogus allegations that she was corrupt.
Dilma never lost an election in her life and the coup was justified by saying she was guilty of “front-loading funds for government social programs and issuing spending budget decrees without congressional approval ahead of her reelection in 2014” — in short, something all of her predecessors, and governments around the planet, routinely do. The right wanted her out of office, couldn’t legally remove her, so they illegally removed her.
By the way, current President Temer was a key leader of the bogus “impeachment” campaign. He’s a total crook who is under investigation for, among other things, taking an illegal campaign donation in 2012 from the state oil company. Last May he put 1,500 soldiers on the streets amid nationwide calls for his resignation.
That came after angry crowds demanded his head on a platter when a secret tape recording revealed he had been proposing “cash payments to Eduardo Cunha, the former speaker of the House who has been jailed for his role in the sprawling…corruption scandal.”
Cunha is another grifter and gangster. He was forced out in July of last year, leading to a Guardian story with the delightful headline, “Brazil’s reviled lower house speaker Eduardo Cunha resigns in tears.” Earlier this year he was sentenced to 15 years in the slammer for being a crook.
(Note: Aline will soon appear on Washington Babylon’s excellent new podcast, and will also be writing about Brazil for us soon.)