Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff awaits results of Senate trial.

Author:Scruggs, Gregory

In a congressional impeachment proceeding rejected by large swaths of Brazilian society as a coup, president Dilma Rousseff was removed from office last month and a provisional government assumed power. Following a vote in favor of impeachment by the lower house on April 11 over charges that Rousseff obfuscated government economic statistics to win reelection, the Brazilian Senate voted on May 12 to begin a trial, which must determine within 180 days whether to remove or reinstate Rousseff, otherwise she will return to office by default (NotiSur, April 10, 2015, and April 29, 2016).

Nevertheless, the Senate decision temporarily removed the leftist Rousseff (Partido dos Trabalhadores, Workers' Party, PT) from office and elevated conservative vice-president Michel Temer (Partido do Movimento Democratico Brasileiro, Brazilian Democratic Movement Party, PMDB) to the Palacio do Planalto. Temer appointed a new Cabinet, effectively ending 12 years of PT rule in the federal government. If Rousseff is not reinstated, Temer will serve out her term until 2018 unless early elections are called, which Rousseff has said publicly she would support. Temer, meanwhile, would not be eligible to campaign for reelection because he faces campaign finance and graft charges.

While intergovernmental organizations in Latin America have been tepid in their disapprobation of Brazil's political crisis, social movements in Brazil have been active, staging protests in an attempt to show public support for Rousseff. The Senate trial will unfold over the coming months, and only a few senators will need to be swayed to prevent the needed two-thirds from voting for her permanent removal from office.

All-white, all-male Cabinet

The worst fears of the Brazilian left came true when Temer (NotiSur, July 1, 2011) assumed office as he appointed an all-white, all-male cabinet with an average age of 58. Several of his appointees were drawn from the ranks of the traditional latifundiario (large land owners) oligarchs, such as Jose Sarney, now minister of the environment, and Blairo Maggi, an agribusiness tycoon nicknamed the "Soy King," now minister of agriculture. Like Temer himself, 15 of his appointees face criminal investigations.

The lack of any women in the Cabinet was deemed particularly galling by women's rights groups. "There's a horrible misogynist trace," former Minister of Cities Ines Magalhaes told LADB via Skype. "I don't recognize the government as legitimate. It's one thing to...

To continue reading