In the end, it was all just a matter of time. After a few pro forma procedures, which paralyzed the country for most of the year, the Brazilian Congress voted today to oust President Dilma Rousseff.
For a 61 to 20 count, 81 Senators ignored calls inside and abroad against the measure, and impeached a leader who, less than two years ago, had been re-elected with over 54 million votes.
It was the end of a serendipitous and embarrassing process, which produced no recognized proof to justify such radical step, and wound up exposing the shameful underbelly of Brazil’s politics.
Accused on a technicality by a group of legislators with a particularly long rap sheet of law-breaking and misconduct, Rousseff goes down along a political project led by her Workers’ Party, that momentarily placed Brazil among the world’s most progressive nations.
Before being itself completely overwhelmed by its own misconduct and abuse of power, the party, known as PT, managed what many thought was impossible, and now more than ever, is unlikely to be repeated: lift an estimated 30 million out of extreme poverty.
BACK TO THE PAST, PART TWO
As that was happening, though, it’s now obvious that an influential segment of the upper classes was not about to give up what it had consistently lost in the polls: government access. All it took was to channel popular dissatisfaction with PT to get it all neatly done.
It was, by all accounts, a coup, orchestrated by a coalition of parties that share one trait: none have convinced the electoral majority that they should be entrusted the reins of Brazil, (more)
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despite a relentless, and expensive, multi-year campaign. The impeachment makes it all possible now.
Brazil dives into the uncertainty of a non-democratic regime that it knowns so well. The last time it happened, with the 1964 military coup, it took 21 long years to finally send them back to their barracks. Barely 31 years later, it’s all back to square one and no one knows how long it’ll take this time around.
BETTER LUCK NEXT TIME
As for Rousseff, a survivor from that regime’s dark gallows, her future is equally uncertain. Few expect her to appeal to the Supremo Tribunal Federal, Brazil’s highest court, which has shown that is not above partisan politics. Just like the U.S. Supreme, by the way.
And even fewer think she has a shot at the next scheduled presidential election, in 2018, one that Brazilians should have waited to exercise their right to change directions. Her mentor and predecessor, though, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, may have one, if yet another technicality won’t derail his bid.
All and all, we can hardly say that a dream is over in Brazil, or that an era of inclusion and civil rights achievements has folded for good. But it sure looks that way, judging by two months of interim government, which has been busy dismantling of the country’s social programs.
GRIEVE NOW, GET UP TOMORROW
Many Brazilians who spent two years on the streets protesting government corruption, don’t seem too convinced now that’s what they were aiming for. Some look deflated, others just plain bitter. It’s just the way it is, and we can’t help but let things run their course.
But it’ll be better if this grieving process is brief, rather than long. For there’s still an opportunity in 2018, as good as any, to restore the institutional vigor Brazil was enjoying just a few years ago. And we may need to put on some faith in the whole process, goddam it.
Brazilians have been down before, and know their way back. New leaderships, along fresh, progressive ideas, are called to play a bigger role, to beat back the expediency of the political right, and intolerance of religious zealots, which have kicked the country to the gutter.
For the alternative is at least six, and possibly a decade of this gang enjoying their banquet of power, as we sit outside, looking in. Just like it’s been one too many times before. After such a miserable 7 to 1 score against it, this is the World Cup that Brazil must win next.