Here’s to the nation making our political process look functional.
Brazil is one of the five biggest nations in terms of population, geographic size and sheer government dysfunction. Our nation’s political discourse is less than civil and it wasn’t that long ago we had our own impeachment adventures. But there’s no way you can read the following political warfare manual and not feel a lot better about being an American voter…
What’s going on? Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff is being impeached.
Why? In theory, she violated federal fiscal responsibility laws by concealing the true size of the Brazilian deficit.
In theory? Many other reasons have been cited for the impeachment. (Example: A federal deputy announced it would be good for “peace in Jerusalem.”) Essentially, it comes down to this: Her political opponents saw a chance to get rid of a democratically elected leader and they took it.
The public must be outraged. Eh, not really.
Well, why the hell not? Since her reelection in 2014, Rousseff has proven spectacularly unpopular, at one point posting an 8 percent approval rating. Among Brazilians opposing her impeachment, there are few doing so because they like their leader.
So Congress is in the right. Oh, definitely not.
What’s wrong with Congress? Well, 60 percent of them are currently facing criminal charges.
For what? The usual: bribery, electoral fraud, kidnapping…
Wait, kidnapping? That’s right. Homicide…
Holy shit! Also illegal deforestation.
That’s not as bad as those other two. Probably not, but still a crime. In addition to politicians looking to eliminate a political opponent, the theory is that many officials facing charges believe removing the president may stall their own investigations or even lead to the appointment of a leader who will protect them.
So the President staying in office would be better for the nation’s integrity. Sort of.
Sort of? Rousseff had never held elective office before becoming the leader of a nation of over 200 million people. Even her supporters would concede she isn’t a natural politician, as she’s generally viewed as being extremely stubborn and deeply secretive. When the Brazilian economy began to tank, these qualities didn’t inspire much confidence in the general population.
This week the Senate was supposed to vote to determine if Rousseff should be impeached. Except the acting speaker of the lower house abruptly announced the proceedings had to be halted. And then the Senate said they’d just ignore the speaker and vote regardless. And then the speaker said he’d changed his mind and it could go ahead anyway.
How did she become president again? Getting to that!
Sorry. It’s cool. Anyway, Rousseff became president largely because of the support of President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva… why don’t we just call him Lula?
Great. Lula was her mentor and predecessor in the presidency. Understandably, the two are very loyal to each other. So it created a problem when he got caught up in the largest corruption probe in the nation’s history.
Of course he did. What was that about? We do not have time to get into it.
That seems incredibly sleazy. It does, doesn’t it? That said, technically none of this has to do with the impeachment–
–which is about Brazil’s debt or something? Close enough.
Can you now reveal something else horrible about Congress? Would you like it to involve torture and sexual abuse?
Does it have to? Afraid so.
Fine. To begin, President Rousseff was imprisoned in 1970 at age 22 for three years for being a guerilla and political opponent of the government.
What? It gets crazier.
How? Documents state that during this time she underwent beatings and electrical shocks to her breasts. Additional tortures including rape are also likely, based on the experiences of other female prisoners. The notorious Colonel Ustra headed these units. The late Colonel has been back in the news recently because a deputy made a point of dedicating his vote to Ustra’s memory before moving to impeach Rousseff.
So he honored the man who ordered the torture and likely rape of his president. In a word, yes.
In the quest to find an upside… is the impeachment at least being smoothly run? Not at all.
Example? This week the Senate was supposed to vote to determine if Rousseff should be impeached. Except the acting speaker of the lower house abruptly announced the proceedings had to be halted. And then the Senate said they’d just ignore the speaker and vote regardless. And then the speaker said he’d changed his mind and it could go ahead anyway.
That does not inspire confidence in a government. Nope.
So what happens if the Senate votes to impeach her? She’s suspended for 180 days while she goes on trial.
Suspended? Who’s the president then? Her Vice President Michel Temer.
Her own VP? She’ll still be in control! Not at all. They’ve fallen out completely and apparently he’s already assembling a new cabinet.
Any reason to think he won’t be a successful president? Well, there’s a good chance he could also face impeachment.
Let’s just deal with the current one. So he’ll form his own government, but it’s possible she could win the trial and take back the office. Assuming he isn’t impeached before then, yes.
Regardless, in roughly six months, the government might be completely reshuffled twice. And potentially a third time with the 2018 election.
And a fourth if they impeach that leader too. It’s a Russian nesting doll situation.
Anything else? Remember Vice President Michel Temer?
What about him? He’s 75.
And? This month his wife turns 33.
Why did you share that? Just looking for something that wasn’t crushingly depressing.
Thanks, that was needed. Our pleasure. And remember, whatever happens, it couldn’t be worse than losing 7-1 to Germany.