As the Upper House voted for Ms Rousseff’s suspension, many questions were raised. The people, the media, opportunist and well-intentioned public figures, they all had something to say. Like any good scripted fiction, too, factors and variants were (and remain) many, generating a plethora of theories and, unfortunately, not much of productive debate.
The interim government, on the other hand, has presented a series of pressure-oriented approaches and controversial decisions, showing a president nowhere near as confident as he was believed to be. Along with being an infamous heir of a government with massive debts,increasing unemployment rates and a disastrous GPR, the now president Temer tries to implement highly unpopular, sometimes deeply depised measures in order to get Brazil ‘back on rails’, putting into question his political abilities, not closely followed by the average Brazilian over the last thirty years of his political career.
Is impeachment a solution?
Dilma Rousseff’s charge in the Senate does not accuse her of corruption, but mismanagement and fiscal misconducts. In simpler terms, this means that politicians assume that she did not benefit directly from the public funds, but that she, as to keep the budget previously stablished by a budget law, deliberately did not pay public monetary institutions, resulting in their financing policies of social welfare like ‘Minha Casa, Minha Vida’ (a housing program) and ‘Bolsa-família’ (a monthly stipend designed to help poor families) with their own resources. It is important here to say that the point is not the delay in the payment itself, but how it was orchestrated – if those delays were acknowledged correctly, there would not have been a prior forecast of a R$24 billion primary surplus (that now curiously turned out to be a R$170,5 billion deficit), and gross incongruences of such a kind increase the local economic instability (as we may have perceived with the downgrades from three of the most important rating agencies in the world).
Another argument against Ms Rousseff is her involvement in the Petrobras scandal. It is to say that she was never accused of receiving undue money; however, she is believed to have shielded important actors of the scam, like Lula, to whom she offered the position of chief of staff. Also, for being close to many others who participated in the same scandal, prosecutors claim she had known about it all, and that her choice of not delating it would be considered passive corruption.
Finally, Lava-Jato operation still investigates whether or not funds resulting from corruption and money-laundering were used to finance her presidential campaign. Yet, that is not part of her accusation, since the then speaker of the lower house, Mr Eduardo Cunha, opted to open the process as soon as possible.
Those who defend the ousted president claim that 1) neither corruption, nor the misconduct were invented by her or her government; 2) state governments commit the same irregularity; 3) her faults are not sufficient to sustain an impeachment process.
Well, actually, they are. It is true that, weren’t that for political articulation from Mr Cunha and others, she would have finished her mandate. Let us explain it in parts.
Fiscal misconducts are and have been a mechanism inherent to management, here and abroad. Even so, not in this scale, not systematically – what triggers and sustains a denouncement here was the use of such an artifice as a device for controlling budget and how it deeply affected financial estimations yearly (mainly in 2014, when she was reelected).
Ms Rousseff is not the one to blame for the crisis, which is cyclic and belongs to our capitalist system. She obviously couldn’t have chosen not to go through a crisis, but she could have chosen how to manage that wisely (or, if I can say so, into legality). The leftists argue that the Workers Party did much more for the poor when compared to the right-wing parties and, for that, there is a feasible explanation for this maneuver – the president has reevaluated the expenses on social programs in the beginning of this year and reviewed the budget concerning educational devices, like Pronatec, FIES and the program Science Without Borders. Furthermore, president Dilma had had difficulties while negotiating with social movement leaders (like the Landless Worker’s Movement) , which shows us that being populist wasn’t enough for the government to reach an agreement with such movements. Also, compared to the financial gap Brazil currently faces , this was not in the slightest the problem. The undue expenses were, themselves, bigger and couldn’t be paid.
Dilma’s defenders also say that Cunha articulated this impeachment process, and that the demonstrators on the streets were somewhat his ‘puppets’, raising their voices against a sort of corruption that was primarily headed by the politicians who uttered that the president was corrupt.
It is, in fact, something to be considered. Mr Cunha was investigated and charged during Operation Car Wash. It is confirmed that he tried to make agreements to escape the accusations against him and that he’s got plenty of influence in the Lower House. Last week, as if there were any doubts left, the Planning Minister, Mr Romero Jucá, was caught saying that suspending Dilma was a way of stopping the Operation – he resigned one day later.
Moreover, Car Wash was one of the biggest corruption scandal revealed and most widely communicated (or, as we say in Communications, a recurrent subject of agenda-setting), and Brazilians have been through a tough, rough process of political maturation (and, since it seems to come in a moment of cataclysm, we can expect some overreaction, directly linked to anger and passion, as we see in soccer. I wrote about it here and here), easily inflamed by the feeling of being tricked. It is not the first time, nor will it be the last, that the role of a savior is so perfectly built, and that counts a lot in a moment of polarization, especially with the extra pressure of the ghosts of unemployment and lack of public facilities. So, even though her neglect was made bigger because of a political articulation (and, as said before, the mistakes themselves were a legit cause for a denounce) demonstrators are not being as much manipulated as pro-Dilma activists like to preach – they are desperate and afraid; they want a solution and they want it immediately, something that she couldn’t provide them.
Finally, there is one last factor that those who are pro-Dilma cry on the streets; it is a coup. As it was presented before, there are reasons for her to be investigated and charged. The process of condemnation is something different, guaranteed by the Constitution and led by the Senate, a House composed of equally directly elected congressmen. If she’s considered guilty, Michel Temer, a vice-president who was, he too, chosen by the Brazilian people, will take her place.
This is not a coup. I’d rather say this is a legit process being catalyzed by a lame political system, which allows deputies who occupy the chairs of the Congress because of the proportionality law to vote duly aligned to the impeachment mindset because of the concrete benefits their parties would have and in the name of various causes or people of their own preferences, forgetting about the very only reason they are there – the sake of the nation.
Answering the question that named this article, impeachment is a palliative, but not a solution. Ms Rousseff’s impeachment is, hopefully, a mark in the Brazilian story against corruption, but it cannot stop there, or it will be in vain. It must be the first step for a thorough political reform and also a test for a recent politicized mass of Brazilians, who must not lose track of their wish for changes nor settle down for shallow investigations, starting with the ineligible interim president Temer.