What’s going on in Brazil? #06 The Impeachment & Michel Temer
Time to explain all that’s been happening here again. If you have no idea at all of what i’m talking about with impeachment or no idea about how parties work in Brazil, maybe check out what I wrote in March and April about this, and if you want more sources I strongly recommend The Intercept articles on Brazil.
Written at 03/09/2016
So let’s start with the obvious: The Impeachment process against now former President Dilma Rousseff has passed and vice president Michel Temer took office this week. Point is, many Brazilians and former President considered this a coup and i’m gonna explain why and then lay out all the shit the new President has in mind and what’s been happening here.
1. Why are you calling the Impeachment a Coup?
Because by Brazilian Law you can only impeach a President if they committed a crime and most jurists in the country can’t reach a consensus if what she did was a crime or not. Furthermore, many Presidents and Governors have also used it and never been brought to trial. Some Senators who voted for her Impeachment left the court only to give interviews saying that there wasn’t a crime, but they voted yes because she just couldn’t govern anymore. But i’m gonna say it again: you can’t impeach a president because you don’t like her, by law you have to have a crime. (If you’re wondering how the hell then did this pass I’d recommend you read the things I pointed out at the start). And, most important of all, you can’t completely change the government plans and the people who control a country without elections, like now-president Temer did, but i’m gonna get to that in a bit.
2. Why did people dislike Rousseff?
I’m not gonna enter the discussion that a) she’s a woman b) she’s from a left wing party here cause it’d take forever, but keep it in mind as well as the fact that her economic policies weren’t working that well and she had made many mistakes. However, the economic crisis that took our country was made worse by a congress that refused to vote nearly all of her propositions of change this year, a congress controlled by a man who really wanted this woman impeached (a man from the same party as our New President, by the way). Go read this article if you want a detailed vision. But for me, the most important things to point out about her government here is that she challenged two of the country’s most powerful institutions: the media, by talking about creating regulations for it (which we really need, since 99% of Brazilian’s papers, tv channels and radio stations are in the hands of half a dozen people) and the ultra rich, by talking about bringing money from offshore accounts back to the country. Basically, you can say she pissed off the wrong people, and not even one hell of a speech and 13 hours defending herself (which she didn’t have to do it person) from accusations on the senate could’ve changed what Brazil’s most powerful people want.
3. Ok, but what’s wrong with Temer?
I guess this might be confusing for foreigners because usually Impeachment processes would keep the vice president and so the same plans elected and all, but this is NOT the case in Brazil. Temer is from a different center party than Rousseff and upon reaching power allied himself to former-president’s right wing opposition, who had been defeated in the elections. So now the most powerful people in this country are from the party that lost the election (in fact, many of the last elections) and the plan being implemented is their neoliberal agenda (contrary to previous elected left wing agenda).
4. What has Temer done already?
Since Dilma Rousseff had been away from office for a few months for her trial now he has had quite some time to show what his now-permanent government is gonna be about.
His first step back in April was nominating his new cabinet leaders and all, which made some noise because, well, they were all white males (differently from last administrations cabinets who were, you know, more representative of Brazilian population, with women and poc). If that wasn’t enough for you, consider that out of the 24 originally nominated, 11 had problems with justice and 3 have already been taken out of office because of scandals in the past six months. One of them notoriously caused a scandal for being caught on tape saying that they needed to stop a corruption investigation and the way to do it would be taking Rousseff out the presidency and putting up Temer (and that the media and the military had been contacted and would support it) (not a coup at all, huh?).
His second step was cutting away anything deemed unnecessary. Which, of course, wasn’t their already very big salaries (in fact, they got another raise this week), but the cabinets of Culture and Women Rights, Racial Equality, Human Rights and Youth, plus some others, whose responsibilities were basically thrown under other cabinet’s administrations. People hit the streets and the Culture cabinet came back later on, but not the others.
5. What are Temer’s new government plans? What happened this week?
So now that he really is the President he’s been more clear on his actions and propositions. Keep in mind that the goal is to “get out of the crisis”.
a) His first big deal is trying to “make more flexible” workers rights, and you take that as you want, besides changing social security rules and rules for getting other kinds of governamental aid.
b) “Privatize everything possible” are his own words. You can infer by that our oil, any remaining minerals, and probably prisons and public health system, among other currently government owned things. Likely to add public universities to that list soon, since they’ve already had their funds cut.
c) Rousseff had been trying to pass an emergency anti-corruption program, Temer has “taken the urgency out of it”.
d) Remember the crime Rousseff was convicted-but-not-really of that led to her impeachment? Yeah, that’s not a crime anymore. From this week forth. They made a change so nobody else (like Temer) can be judged on that. After she was judged, of course. I know, you’re probably screaming at your computer now. I am too.
6. How are people reacting?
There have been lots of protests in many cities, but they’ve scarcely been covered by our tv channels (guess why), and they have been harshly repressed by the police. When I say harshly repressed I mean a girl lost an eye a few days ago at one and they are using gas bombs and rubber bullets and going full violence on the mostly young protesters (this page has been posting videos and pictures of the protests, if you wanna see for yourself). Temer has authorized the army to be on Paulista Avenue this weekend, notoriously a place were protest happen. While the situation on the streets escalates, media passes protestes as dangerous and full of “vandals”.
This doesn’t cover everything. The situation isn’t pretty. Tension is high. Whatever happened this week wasn’t democracy, and i’m afraid whatever comes out of it isn’t gonna be democracy either. Keep your eyes open for Brazil.
New Brazilian President said he wouldn’t tolerate being called a coup-plotter so naturally Brazilians have made a chrome extension that changes his name to “coup-plotter” whenever it appears and I think that’s beautiful
Yesterday, about a hundred thousand people hit the streets of São Paulo alone (more protests happened in Rio, Curitiba, Salvador and other cities). During the evening, everything went fine. The majority of the protesters were young, but there were parents with their children and elderly people too. The call is to take down new president Michel Temer, who took office this week after president Dilma Rousseff was impeached under some more than fragile circumstances (I’ve explained that here) and have new elections. The protest was peaceful. At night, when people started to head to the subway to go home, one station was closed and out of nowhere police started throwing gas bombs at the protesters. Police alleged it was called to solve a situation of vandalism on the subway, but subway security denied ever having called them or anything having happened. There were bombs thrown at people inside restaurants, there were people who weren’t even at the protest arrested and charged, and there were people hurt. Some say evidence has been planted at the protests after people had left to make it seem more violent and destructive and therefore discourage people from coming. NOTHING at that protest could have justified violence, and yet that’s what happened. Brazil’s not ok. This is not ok. We’re afraid and the future of our so called democracy seems uncertain. Please keep an eye on us.