The Two Sides Of Dilma Rousseff's Impeachment

People demonstrate against Brazil's acting President Michel Temer and in support of suspended President Dilma Rousseff in Sao
People demonstrate against Brazil's acting President Michel Temer and in support of suspended President Dilma Rousseff in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Friday, May 20, 2016. Temer took office last week after Rousseff was suspended for up to 180 days while the Senate holds an impeachment trial. (AP Photo/Andre Penner)

The impeachment process of President Dilma Rousseff has two sides. One of them is legitimate, and the other is not.

On the legitimate side of the process are the millions of Brazilians who took to the streets asking for the president's departure. We're familiar with their reasons: The economic crisis, the political crisis and the corruption that had engulfed the government -- involving not only the Workers' Party, but other big names as well.

If we only take that side of the story into account, we can call the process that led to the president's removal an impeachment. In fact, it even followed all the legal and judicial procedures, under the supervision of the Federal Supreme Court.

But there's another side to the story. It is no secret that there was a wing of the PMDB, vice-president Michel Temer's party, working behind the scenes to weaken the president.

Towards the end of 2014, for example, we could see that Henrique Eduardo Alves ruled the lower house in a way that created difficulties for the government. And this situation worsened in February 2015, when Eduardo Cunha took over.

It is easy to find photos on the Internet of Cunha and Dilma together, smiling. There are some who say that they were allies for some time, but on Thursday, May 19, during his testimony in the ethics committee, Cunha stated that he had always opposed the government. The photos and the supposed support were therefore nothing more than a charade.

The final proof of illegitimacy appeared on Monday, May 23, when the newspaper Folha de São Paulo published transcripts of conversations between the senator Romero Jucá and Sérgio Machado, the ex-chairman of Transpetro, the largest oil and gas transportation company in Brazil.

In the conversations, recorded in March -- apparently by Machado himself -- Jucá and his interlocutor talk about Operation Car Wash, in which both are being investigated, and the damage it can cause to their parties -- the PMDB and the PSDB. The contents of their conversations are appalling.

Machado says that "the easiest solution" to stop Operation Car Wash "is an agreement to appoint Michel (as president of the republic) as part of a grand national pact." Jucá responds that this "agreement" would be "with the Supreme Court, with everyone."

In one excerpt, Jucá says that he has spoken with some Federal Supreme Court judges about Operation Car Wash, and that these judges have said that "the conditions are only [inaudible] without her [Dilma]." You can draw your own conclusions about that inaudible segment.

Additionally, Temer's former minister remarks that he "is speaking with generals, military commanders. They are fine with this, they say they will guarantee it. They are monitoring the Landless Workers Movement, I think, in order to avoid disturbances."

In light of all this information, this situation can only be described as a coup. The conversations between Jucá and Machado make it even clearer that there is great similarity between what is happening now and what took place in 1964. The only difference is that now, the leading role is played by the political class, which is intimidated by the unfolding investigations of Operation Car Wash, and not the military.

But it is worth remembering that the large majority of those who protested in the streets do not support a coup. This majority -- because there was, unfortunately, a minority asking for a return of the dictatorship and another that had always been allied with corrupt politicians -- took to the streets in good faith, rightfully outraged at the political and economic crisis.

It is probable that they now feel betrayed by Romero Jucá, Michel Temer, Eduardo Cunha and company. There were betrayals in 1964 as well.

On Sunday, May 22, Elio Gaspari wrote in his column for Folha de São Paulo that "Michel Temer, prosecutor of the State of São Paulo, went into retirement in 1996, at an age of 55 years. Since then, he has received R$ 9,300 every month."

This means that since his retirement in 1997, the president has compiled more than two million Brazilian reals.

It is this kind of scandal that must be reviewed when reforming the pension system. Temer's retirement would have paid, over 20 years, for three retirements worth R$ 3,100 each.

There are definitely hundreds, possibly thousands of cases like Temer's. We should put a stop to this. The savings from removing this kind of luxury may not amount to billions, but it would be very welcome.

In another segment of the conversation between Romero Jucá and Sérgio Machado, four senators from the PSDB are mentioned: Aloysio Nunes, Tasso Jereissati, José Serra (the current minister for external Aafairs) and Aécio Neves. According to Jucá, "Everyone is on the tray to be eaten." Machado responds that "The first to be eaten will be Aécio."

Later, Machado says that "Aécio is not cut out for it, people know that," apparently referring to Aécio's chances of winning a presidential election. He adds, "Who doesn't know that? Who doesn't know Aécio's plan?" We don't. And we would really like to know.

This post first appeared on HuffPost Brazil. It has been translated into English and edited for clarity.

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