Rouss­eff im­peached af­ter drama that en­gulfed Brazil

China Daily (Canada) - - FRONT PAGE - By AGEN­CIES

Brazil’s Se­nate on Wed­nes­day voted to re­move Pres­i­dent Dilma Rouss­eff from of­fice, the cul­mi­na­tion of a year­long fight that par­a­lyzed Latin Amer­ica’s largest na­tion and ex­posed deep rifts among its peo­ple on ev­ery­thing from race re­la­tions to so­cial spend­ing.

While Rouss­eff ’s ouster was widely ex­pected, the de­ci­sion was a key chap­ter in a colos­sal po­lit­i­cal strug­gle that is far from over. Rouss­eff was Brazil’s first fe­male pres­i­dent, with a sto­ried ca­reer that in­cludes a stint as a Marx­ist guer­rilla jailed and tor­tured in the 1970s dur­ing the coun­try’s dic­ta­tor­ship. She was ac­cused of break­ing fis­cal laws in her man­age­ment of the fed­eral bud­get.

“The Se­nate has found that the pres­i­dent of the fed­eral re­pub­lic of Brazil, Dilma Vana Rouss­eff, com­mit­ted crimes in break­ing fis­cal laws,” said Chief Jus­tice Ri­cardo Le­wandowski, who presided over the trial.

Op­po­si­tion law­mak­ers, who made clear early on the only so­lu­tion was get­ting her out of of­fice, ar­gued that the ma­neu­vers masked yawn­ing deficits from high spend­ing and ul­ti­mately ex­ac­er­bated the re­ces­sion in a na­tion that had long en­joyed dar­ling sta­tus among emerg­ing economies.

Non­sense, Rouss­eff coun­tered time and again, pro­claim­ing her in­no­cence up to the end. Pre­vi­ous pres­i­dents used sim­i­lar ac­count­ing tech­niques, she noted, say­ing the push to re­move her was a blood­less coup d’etat by elites fum­ing over the pop­ulist po­lices of her Work­ers’ Party the last 13 years.

The op­po­si­tion needed 54 of the 81 sen­a­tors to vote in fa­vor for her to be re­moved. They got many more, win­ning in a land­slide of sorts, 61-20.

“To­day is the day that 61 men, many of them charged and cor­rupt, threw 54 mil­lion Brazilian votes in the garbage,” Rouss­eff tweeted min­utes af­ter the de­ci­sion.

Rouss­eff won re-elec­tion in 2014, gar­ner­ing more than 54 mil­lion votes.

In a sec­ond Se­nate vote about 30 min­utes later, Rouss­eff won a mi­nor vic­tory as a mea­sure to ban her from public of­fice for eight years failed. The 42-36 vote fell short of the 54 votes needed for pas­sage.

In the back­ground of the en­tire fight was a wide-rang­ing in­ves­ti­ga­tion into bil­lions of dol­lars in kick­backs at state oil com­pany Petro­bras.

The two-year probe has led to the jail­ing of dozens of top busi­ness­men and politi­cians from across the po­lit­i­cal spec­trum, and threat­ens many of the same law­mak­ers who voted to re­move Rouss­eff.

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