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Brazilian President Rousseff Ousted Following Impeachment Vote

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JP Carroll National Security & Foreign Affairs Reporter
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Former Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff was formally ousted following the conclusion of impeachment proceedings Aug. 31.

Rousseff was ultimately impeached after 61 of Brazil’s 81 senators voted against her, thereby ending her suspension and sacking her for masking and manipulating Brazil’s increasingly untenable deficit. The impeached ex-leader has lived in political limbo since her suspension in May.

The Brazilian trailblazer defended her actions as legal and within the norm of past presidents’ actions regarding the budget, despite top Brazilian newspaper Folha de Sao Paulo showing otherwise.

Rousseff was charged with being in breach of both Brazil’s Constitution and its Fiscal Responsibility Law for, “manipulating the government’s budget deficit and interfering with government accounts,” ahead of a tight reelection campaign in October 2014. Throughout the impeachment process, Rousseff cried foul, stating that she is the victim of a politically-motivated, sexist witch hunt and that she has gained the support of many high-profile Americans along the way.

“There has been, mixed in all of this, a large amount of prejudice against women,” stated Rousseff. “There are attitudes toward me that there would not be with a male president,” Rousseff continued. The now-disgraced leader was the first-ever elected female leader of Brazil.

“I am deeply concerned by the current effort to remove Brazil’s democratically elected president, Dilma Rousseff. To many Brazilians and observers the controversial impeachment process more closely resembles a coup d’état,” former presidential candidate and sitting Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders said in an August press release.

“After suspending Brazil’s first female president on dubious grounds, without a mandate to govern, the new interim government abolished the ministry of women, racial equality and human rights. They immediately replaced a diverse and representative administration with a cabinet made up entirely of white men,” Sanders continued.

Others do not share the view of Sanders or Rousseff.

“An impeachment process is a political trial, but it has to be based on something, [in this case] she [Rousseff] broke the law, using finances to cover up deficit spending. All of that comes under the purview of the impeachment proceedings in the Constitution. Clearly any impeachment proceeding in any country is a political process but that doesn’t make it unconstitutional and I don’t think it has anything to do with her being a woman, ” Ian Vásquez, director of the Cato Institute’s Center for Global Liberty and Prosperity, told The Daily Caller News Foundation.

“Dilma Rousseff, chose to go to the Senate today to confront her accusers, as the gang of corrupt operatives and criminals constituting the Brazilian Senate moves to the end of its impeachment trial, with the virtually inevitable result that the twice-elected Dilma will be removed,” stated journalist Glenn Greenwald of The Intercept during the impeachment hearings.

Greenwald, who lives in Brazil, ultimately defined the confrontation between Rousseff and the Brazilian Senate.”It’s the embodiment of cowardice versus courage.”

“Ms. Rousseff’s political opponents have done something subtler: They exploited the popular will and the letter of the law to serve their own interests, rather than the interests of democracy,” writes the New York Times’ Amanda Taub.

Rousseff is not the only political casualty or scandal to grip Brazil’s ruling class. Much of Brazil’s political and business elite are engulfed in months-long scandal as a result of the long-running Lava Jato (Portuguese for “car wash”) Scandal.

The left-of-center Workers’ Party, along with their former coalition partners, stand accused of appointing allies to senior management in Petrobras, Brazil’s state-owned oil company, and using them to divert billions to their political campaigns and pocketing millions for themselves along the way. Rousseff was the chairwoman of Petrobras from 2003 to 2010 and set the tone and shaped the culture of the organization to the benefit of the Workers’ Party.

The Lava Jato Scandal extends to Brazil’s biggest entrepreneurs because many knowingly went along with the corrupt practices of Petrobras. As a result of the national oil company’s shady business dealings, Marcelo Odebrecht, the former CEO of Latin America’s biggest construction firm, Odebrecht SA, was sentenced to 19 years behind bars.

André Esteves, the billionaire former CEO and founder of Brazilian investment banking giant BTG Pactual, was arrested in November and then forced to live under house arrest through late April. Esteves, who is worth $1.97 billion according to Forbes, was accused of trying to pay off a key witness against him to keep their mouth shut, regarding his role in the Lava Jato Scandal.

The billionaire banker is now back with his bank as Senior Partner advising Banco BTG Pactual S.A. on strategy and supporting the development of its activities and operations. The Brazilian Supreme Court freed Esteves, whose bank was known in the world of finance as “Better Than Goldman” in reference to Goldman Sachs, prompting Rousseff to seek similar relief from the Brazilian court system. In a last ditch effort to save her political image, Rousseff appealed to the Brazilian Supreme Court, trying to get them to overturn the Senate’s impeachment ruling.

Vásquez  sees the impeachment of Rousseff and the political purge underway in Brazil in a positive light. “The impeachment [of Dilma Rousseff] has been healthy for Brazilian democracy, because it will likely lead to a strengthening in institutions because it increases accountability for the president and the Congress and will likely lead to somewhat of an improvement in policies,” Vásquez of the Cato Institute told The DCNF.

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