ALEXANDER MAIN, [in D.C.] via Tillie McInnis, mcinnis[at]cepr.net, @ceprdc
Main is senior associate on international policy at the Center for Economic and Policy Research. He said today: “An undemocratic power grab is underway in Brazil. Refusing to accept their loss at the polls in the last presidential elections, the country’s rightwing elites proceeded to engage in a massive media-driven campaign to oust Rousseff through a trumped up impeachment effort led by some of Brazil’s most corrupt politicians. Sadly, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry confirmed that the Obama administration is intent on legitimizing this effort when he carried out a high profile meeting with Brazil’s interim foreign minister José Serra earlier this month.”
MARIA LUISA MENDONCA, [Currently in the U.S.] marialuisam222[at]gmail.com
Mendonça is director of Brazil’s Network for Social Justice and Human Rights. She is also a professor in the International Relations department at the University of Rio de Janeiro and the editor of the book Human Rights in Brazil.
She said today: “The final phase of President Dilma Rousseff’s impeachment trial begins in Brazil’s Senate today. It is widely expected that, within a few days, senators will vote to definitively remove her from office. The impeachment — labeled a coup by many Brazilians — has generated outrage and frequent protests in Brazil, including during the Olympic Games in Rio. The main charge against Rousseff — of using common accounting mechanisms of borrowing funds from public banks to pay for social programs (previously used by her predecessors without controversy) — has been dismissed by a top federal prosecutor. Meanwhile, those leading the impeachment campaign, including former lower house speaker Eduardo Cunha and the interim president Michel Temer are accused of bribery and illegal campaign contributions.
“Following the initial impeachment vote in the lower house, on April 17, an interim government was formed under rightwing vice president Michel Temer. His interim government was made up entirely of white, male ministers — in a country where the majority of citizens identify as non-white — and has been steadily implementing a conservative economic and social program fundamentally at odds with the progressive agenda that voters supported in the presidential elections of October 2014. Among other things, Temer abolished the ministries of Women, Human Rights, Racial Equality, Agricultural Development and has pledged to carry out deep funding cuts to health care and education.
“As Rousseff prepares to take the stand in her defense on August 29, progressive groups and individuals from around the world have voiced concern and alarm over the impeachment process. On August 23, forty-five U.S. organizations — including the AFL-CIO, the Global Fund for Women, the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists and Amazon Watch called for ‘a return to democracy and the rule of law in Brazil.’ On August 24, twenty-two artists and intellectuals including Harry Belafonte, Noam Chomsky, Brian Eno, Danny Glover, Naomi Klein, Tom Morello, Arundhati Roy, Susan Sarandon and Oliver Stone urged ‘Brazilian senators to respect the October 2014 electoral process which over 100 million people took part in.’
“The corrupt politicians leading the effort to unseat president Dilma Rousseff should be aware that there is an international spotlight shining down on their actions. If they follow through with their plan, they will be remembered in history as the ones responsible for the most damaging assault against democracy in Brazil since the 1964 coup.”