Dilma's long goodbye. Obama names new ambassador to Brazil as interim government falters

Dilma's long goodbye. Obama names new ambassador to Brazil as interim government falters
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With Brazil facing creeping instability as acting president Michel Temer waffles on reforms and ministers resign over corruption scandals the Obama White House has quietly nominated senior diplomat Peter Michael McKinley as ambassador to Brazil.

If his nomination is approved hitting the ground running could become a dicey situation for McKinley.

Since Temer has given women just a token presence in his interim government the isssue most likely to spark a groundswell of ugly street protests and social media rants is an effort to raise the retirement age for women from 55 to 60.

If Temer's economic team has its way, women will have to work five additional years to help pay for the greed and corruption of Brazil's macho political class before they can retire on their pensions.

Ironically, president Dilma Rousseff also attempted to raise the retirement age of women from 55 to 60, but the queen of Brazil's caviar left was impeached before she could do so.

According to a report by the BBC, during the 5 ½ years that Dilma served as president 86 ministers were either fired, or resigned from her government, a statistic that averages out to one new minister taking office every 22 days.

Since the United States is the top foreign investor in Brazil's struggling economy Temer is faced with the delicate issue of whether to accept McKinley's credentials in a timely manner.

However, credentialing ambassador McKinley sends an overt signal that the Obama administration is willing to establish relations with an interim government before the constitutional impeachment process that could permanently remove Dilma as the the nation's freely elected leader plays out.

Temer's formal acceptance of ambassador McKinley will also amp up the meme that Dilma was removed from office in a "constitutional coup" organized by Brazil's "oligarchy" with tacit support from the United States.

That meme, which has been characterized by Temer's minister for external relations Jose Serra as a conspiracy theory, continues to be publicized by Pulitzer Prize winner Glenn Greenwald at The Intercept, Amy Goodman of Democracy Now, HuffPo blogger Cenk Uygur and The Guardian, as well as by Dilma's well oiled Workers' Party media machine.

Currently serving as president Obama's ambassador to Afghanistan, the 62 year old McKinley is no stranger to political hotspots. He has served as ambassador in Peru (2007-2010) and in Colombia (2010-2013), Latin American democracies that continue to struggle with narcoterrorism, internecine political warfare and wholesale corruption.

While in Peru ambassador McKinley maintained a working relationship with current undersecretary of state for political affairs Thomas Shannon when Shannon was deputy secretary for western hemisphere affairs under presidet George W. Bush.

Shannon then became a "Bush holdover" filling the need of president Obama to name a senior diplomat as ambassador to Brazil. He left that post in 2013 after the United States was implicated in the eavesdropping of mobile conversations made by president Dilma Rousseff.

Ambassador McKinley is a smooth diplomatic operator cut from the same cloth as Shannon. Both men have extensive experience in Latin America. Both hold doctoral degrees from Oxford and each has considerable knowledge of the global terrorist landscape.

Brazil's current constitution provides a window of six months for the senate to determine whether Dilma is permanently removed from her presidency based on allegations that she committed financial irregularities during her second term in office.

The clock started ticking on May 16th, when 55 senators (just one vote above the two thirds required by law) voted to launch the constitutionally mandated impeachment protocol that temporarily removed Dilma from her duties as president.

Now the senate is scheduled to meet for several weeks as a court to argue the legalities of permanently removing Dilma from office with a minister from the supreme federal tribunal (Brazil's supreme court) serving as a mediator. Dilma can answer questions and speak in her own defense if she wishes to.

When all arguments are concluded a final vote to permanently remove Dilma will require two thirds of Brazil's 81 senators to vote to convict her of the charges, putting an end to the impeachment process and making Michel Temer the official president of the nation until the next presidential election, currently scheduled for 2018.

Considering that the May senate vote to formally launch the impeachment process passed by only one vote more (55 votes) than the required two thirds (54 votes) of the 81 senators, backroom deals and objections to Temer's controversial reforms could turn the vote to convict Dilma into a vote of no confidence against Temer.

After all, in their emotional speeches preceeding the May 16th vote to launch the formal impeachment process against Dilma around half a dozen senators who voted to impeach her also said that Temer should be impeached.

If Dilma returns to the presidency she will likely push a constitutional amendment through congress calling for a new presidential election in October of this year, when state and municipal elections are scheduled to take place. Prior to her impeachment she invited politicians who were supportive of a presidential election in October to "talk to me." Fearing the idea was just another Workers' Party scam, nobody did.

Whether ambassador McKinley is credentialed and watches Brazil's political and economic drama play out from the American Embassy in Brasilia is now up to acting president Temer.

Meanwhile, as Temer's spin doctors work overtime spinning the meme that recovery is just around the corner, Brazil's economic situation continues to deteriorate. Over 11 million Brazilians are jobless and more will be out of work as cutbacks continue.

A few years ago secretary of state John Kerry was scorched after making the gaffe that Latin America is "our backyard." With Brazil's oligarchy and political class willing to bend the rules a bit Temer could remind the world that it still is.

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