Dilma Rousseff, Brazil‘s first female president, was voted out of her position after the Senate voted 61-20 in an impeachment trial, finding her guilty of manipulating budget laws.
She will be replaced by Michel Temer, her former vice president who has been holding the position since Rousseff’s impeachment started in May. Temer will serve for the remainder of Rousseff’s term as he was sworn into the presidency late Wednesday. Although Rousseff’s impeachment is an important step into solving Brazil’s deep corruption issues, 75-year-old Temer will have to face a beaten economy to try and tackle the several conflicts among Brazil’s public institutions.
The resolution to Dilma’s controversial rule
Rousseff, as she was being prosecuted, claimed that she did not break any laws, while those that were accusing her were being investigated with the same precedents as she was being impeached. Her impeachment marks the end of the 13-year-rule of the Workers’ Party, which took advantage of Brazil’s resources and tried to provide public services and social security to the middle and lower class, while also putting the country on the global spotlight by allowing it to host the 2014 FIFA World Cup and the 2016 Olympics.
“I am the victim of a process that is rooted in injustice, and legal and political fraud,” Rousseff stated two days after the impeachment procedure was approved.
The charges suggest that Rousseff’s administration took $11 billion from state-owned banks to fund social programs, providing funds for poor Brazilians and financing the upkeep of low-income families. Legal experts argue that, although the charges may be out of proportion, it is the duty of Congress to approve any change in the annual budget, which forbids the president from taking money from banks that belong to the state, and by inference are a vital part of the country’s economy.
It was also revealed that Rousseff’s presidential campaign used funds originated from Petrobras, Brazil’s flagship oil company, funneling billions into Rousseff’s many political allies. The difference is that the crimes are not penal, like robbery or murder, but administrative. The charges may not put a person in prison, but they do have severe administrative consequences such as losing position in public office.
Corruption and politics hand in hand
The court’s decision has been believed to be politically influenced, as other Brazilian presidents have committed the same crimes and retained office. On Dilma’s case, her administration reimbursed the banks from which it borrowed funds. With the argument that others committing a crime do not justify one’s actions, Brazil’s legal powers decided to oust Rousseff for good to impulse major changes in the country’s political scenario.
It is not the first time a Brazilian president had to unwillingly abandon power. Fernando Collor de Mello was elected in 1990. Two years later, he was impeached for corruption and two weeks after impeachment he resigned from the presidency. It was reported that corruption scandals started to surface just a couple months after he was elected. The Brazilian Senate forbade Mello from holding public office until the year 2000 when he tried to run for mayor of Sao Paulo. In 2006 he was elected to the Senate, and then reelected in 2014, but only to be charged yet again for corruption by the Prosecutor General of Brazil.
Dilma Rousseff not only lacked political integrity, but she was also seen as a leader with deaf ears. Mayors abandoned Rousseff and her party as her government kept on pursuing global acknowledgment and further squandered the country’s economy. In a last, desperate effort to try and fend off the impeachment trial, Rousseff accused Congress of performing a coup against her. Two-thirds of Congress had voted to approve Rousseff’s impeachment, who has oftentimes been criticized for her arrogance.
“I will struggle with all my might until the coup-mongers are defeated,” she stated in an interview back in April.
Although her policies have helped many middle-class Brazilians to have more public benefits, millions have plummeted into poverty as Rousseff’s administration continued to spend in events of public grandeur, ignoring the detrimental social crisis that needs to be prioritized through plans that support development rather than expenditure.
Rousseff’s rule was characterized by her refusing to meet members of Congress, setting herself apart from any majority and supporting politicians that at some point backed her and the Workers’ Party to remain in power. Brazilian media perceives Rousseff as irrational and egotistic, as she continuously avoided meeting with social leaders and activists. She has been compared to her predecessor Lula da Silva, who in contrast was a charismatic and warm leader.
Brazilians believe that Rousseff is facing a patriarchal society and political system, but that did not stop her from committing the crimes from which she was accused of, nor Congress for voting for her to be removed. Brazil’s next presidential election will occur in 2018.