The Brazilian Coup’s Image Problem


Gianpaolo Baiocchi in Boston Review:

Two weeks ago, after recording what was perhaps her last official address and signing a net-neutrality addendum to Brazil’s landmark 2014 Internet civil rights legislation (the Marco Civil da Internet), Dilma Rousseff was temporarily removed from the office of president of Brazil. For a period of up to six months, the Senate will deliberate on whether to remove her permanently from office or reinstate her to finish her term, depending on if she is found guilty of a “crime of responsibility” for fiscal inconsistencies in the national budget. Meanwhile Vice-President Michel Temer, acting as interim president, has shuffled the country’s ministerial line-up and declared a series of policy reversals, primarily in an effort to restore national and international confidence in the country as a stable and business-friendly environment.

But despite the celebratory mood conveyed by Brazil’s corporate media, the country’s future is entirely uncertain. Not only is it far from assured that the Senate will vote at the end of the process to permanently suspend Rousseff, or that the Supreme Court will uphold the impeachment. The bigger uncertainty is whether the interim Temer administration will meet the minimum conditions to govern or be accepted as legitimate by a sufficient percentage of the population. For too many Brazilians at every level of the social ladder, the Rousseff impeachment seems transparently political, seeking to remove an unpopular but democratically elected president on thin, procedural grounds under the banner of fighting corruption. An unelected administration composed of several politicians themselves implicated in corruption is now beginning to carry out policies that the Brazilian public would have a hard time accepting at the ballot box. Internationally, the bizarre spectacle of the impeachment joins other recent power grabs by conservative forces in Latin America, notably in Paraguay and Honduras, which have sought to manipulate public institutions to facilitate elite interests.

More here.