Dilma Rousseff, the president of Brazil, has been impeached for hiding the country’s declining economic situation during an election year in order to win reelection in 2014.
Brazilian senators voted to impeach her 61 to 20. Her vice president, Michel Temer, will serve as interim president until an election in 2018.
Since Rousseff’s reelection, her term in office (her second) had been marred in unceasing scandal. Earlier that year the country’s judiciary branch carried out a massive anti-corruption sting in Brazil quasi-state oil company, Petrobras.
The mission was called Operation Car Wash, and what authorities uncovered was that corrupt politicians from all leading parties had siphoned over $2 billion from the company in order to pay kickbacks and favours for Brazil’s elite.
It didn’t help that at the same time Brazil’s economy was starting to fail thanks to a global commodities price slump.
During this time, Rousseff’s favorability fell to as low as 7%. Massive protests broke out across the country as a general rage over the scandal hit fever pitch. Some citizens even called for the return of military rule.
However, Rousseff was never directly implicated in Operation Car Wash, despite the fact that she served as the chairwoman of Petrobras’ board from 2003 to 2010. That was during the rule of her predecessor and mentor, Luis Inacio Lula da Silva, who has also been accused of corruption.
Alternatively, some politicians who have moved aggressively to impeach Rousseff have been implicated in Operation Car Wash. This includes interim President Michel Temer, Rousseff’s Vice President from her largest opposition party. He has been accused of participating in an illegal ethanol-purchasing program and making illegal donations among other thing.
This is why some, including Rousseff herself, have called this impeachment vote “a coup.“
Coup or not, what’s clear is that Brazil’s political and economic problems will not go away with Rousseff’s ouster. Inflation and unemployment are still high and commodities prices, the country’s main exports, are still low. Analysts at HSBC believe the market’s attention will quickly turn from Rousseff to fixing Brazil’s economy through key, sometimes painful, reforms.
And, of course, the political cleansing that started with Operation Car Wash is by no means over. Temer is as unpopular in Brazil as Rousseff was, and on Tuesday night before the vote both pro and anti Rousseff protesters took to the streets.
The people are still divided. This isn’t over.
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