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AMERICAS

BrazilsSenateSuspendsPresident
DilmaRousseff
ByANDREWJACOBSandSIMONROMERO

MAY12,2016

BRASLIAAfteranallnightdebate,BrazilsSenatevotedThursday
morningtosuspendPresidentDilmaRousseffandbeginanimpeachment
trialagainsther,oustingadeeplyunpopularleaderwhosesaggingpolitical
fortuneshavecometoembodywidespreadpublicangeroversystemic
corruptionandabatteredeconomy.
Inavoteof55to22,lawmakersacceptedthechargesagainstMs.
Rousseff,accusingherofborrowingfromstatebankstoconcealalooming
deficit,abudgetarysleightofhandthatcriticssaywasaimedatsecuring
herreelectiontwoyearsago.
Wecouldnolongerignorethesecrimesandthusvotedfor
impeachment,lvaroDias,asenatorfromtheGreenParty,saidshortly
beforecastinghisvote.Havingbeenassaultedbyincompetenceand
wrongdoing,Braziliansexpectpunishment.
Duringherimpeachmenttrial,whichcouldlastsixmonths,Ms.
Rousseffwillbereplacedbyaonetimeally,VicePresidentMichelTemer,
whohasbeenconvictedofviolatingcampaignfinancelimitsandwillnow
beundertremendouspressuretostemBrazilsworsteconomiccrisisin
decades.
Describingtheefforttoremoveherasacoup,Ms.Rousseff,thefirst

womantobepresidentofBrazil,hasrepeatedlyrejectedcallstoresign,
vowingtocontinueherfighttostayatthehelmofLatinAmericaslargest
country,theworldsfifthmostpopulous.
ButgiventhemarginofoppositionagainstheronThursday,political
analystssaidshestoodlittlechanceofwinningthetrialandfinishingthe
remainingtwoandahalfyearsofherfinalterminoffice.
GiventhepolarizationinBrazil,ifshestickstohergunsandfights
thisallthewaytotheend,itsgoingtoprolongtheagonyforthecountry,
saidMauroF.Guilln,aprofessorofinternationalmanagementatthe
UniversityofPennsylvania.Thebestthingshecoulddoforhercountryis
tobitethebulletandstepaside.
Monthsofuglyinvective,secretmaneuveringandlegalappealshave
dividedanationalreadybuffetedbyinflation,governmentparalysisanda
colossalcorruptionscandalthatrevealedthedepthsofBrazilsprofoundly
troubledpoliticalsystem.
Thoughwidelyexpected,thespectacleofMs.Rousseffsbeingputon
trialisawatershedinthepowerstruggleconsumingBrazil,which
experiencedararestretchofstabilityoverthelasttwodecadesasit
strengtheneditseconomyandachievedgreaterprominenceontheworld
stage.
Now,thosegainsarecomingundone,withmillionsofworkingclass
Brazilianssinkingintopovertyasthecountryenduresitssecondyearof
recession.
Thenationseconomicwoesarenotsimplyaresultoffallingglobal
pricesforBraziliancommoditieslikeoilandsoybeans.Theyarealsoself
inflicted,economistssay,aconsequenceofflawedpoliciesandenormous
graftscandals.ManyvotersblameMs.RousseffandherleftistWorkers
Party.
Everythingissoexpensivenow,wecanbarelyaffordtoeat,said
JulianaSantos,29,atickettakerwhoworksforapublicbuscompanyin

Braslia,thecapital.TheWorkersPartypromisedtheywouldchange
things,buttheychangedthingsfortheworse.
ThebitterpoliticalfeudamongBrazilsscandalplaguedleadersis
takingplaceasthecountrystrugglestocontainthespreadoftheZikavirus,
andjustmonthsbeforetheworldheadstoRiodeJaneirofortheSummer
Olympics.
Plainlysaid,thisistheworstcrisisinourhistory,withitscombination
ofeconomiccalamity,discreditedpoliticsandtheviolationofthelowest
ethicalstandards,BorisFausto,aBrazilianhistorian,toldreportersthis
monthwhilesummingupthecountrysgrimmood.
Ms.Rousseff,68,isthesecondBrazilianpresidenttoface
impeachmentsincedemocracywasreestablishedinthemid1980saftera
longdictatorship.
In1992,FernandoCollordeMelloresignedbeforetheSenatecouldtry
himonchargesofcorruption.Buthehasresurrectedhispoliticalcareer
andisnowasenator.Inthedebate,hecriticizedhisousterdecadesago,
beforevotingagainstMs.Rousseff.
ComparedwiththeraucousdebateoverMs.Rousseffsfateinthe
lowerhouseofCongresslastmonthduringwhichlawmakersspitonone
another,jeeredandthrewconfettitheproceedingsintheSenatewere
subdued.
After20hoursofoftensomnolentspeechmaking,theBrazilian
solicitorgeneral,JosEduardoCardozo,tooktothedaisjustafterdawnon
Thursdayandtoldlawmakersthathistorywouldjudgethemharshlyifthey
votedtotryMs.Rousseffforacrimehesaidshehadnotcommitted.Ifthis
impeachmentgoesforward,Brazilwillbecometheworldslargestbanana
republic,hesaid,emotionfillinghisvoice.
Throughouttheday,thecorrugatedmetalenclosuresthathadbeen
erectedoutsideCongresstocontainprotestersremainedmostlyempty,a
markedcontrasttothethousandsofpeoplewhoflockedtothecapitallast

monthtoexpresstheirsupportoroppositionduringtheimpeachmentvote
inthelowerhouse.
ByeveningonWednesday,severalhundredpeoplehadgatheredinthe
pens,andatonepoint,policeofficersfiredteargasintoacrowdofanti
impeachmentprotestersafterfirecrackerswerelobbedintheofficers
direction.
Ms.RousseffisaformerMarxistguerrillaandatrainedeconomistwho
spentyearsworkinginthenationsenergybureaucracies.Shehadnotheld
electedofficeuntilformerPresidentLuizIncioLuladaSilva,whowas
constitutionallybarredfromrunningforathirdconsecutiveterm,picked
hertobehissuccessor.
In2010,shewonhandily,andduringhertimeinoffice,shelargely
continuedthegeneroussocialwelfareprogramsthathadearnedMr.da
Silvaunswervingloyaltyfromthecountryspoorestcitizens.
Ourgreatestachievementsweretoraise36millionpeopleoutof
povertyandelevate40millionothersintothemiddleclass,Mr.daSilva
saidinanemailonWednesday.Weremainapartythatcaresaboutthe
poorandaboutsocialjustice.
Butastheeconomysouredandscandalrockedthepolitical
establishment,Ms.Rousseffspopularitysankintothesingledigits,giving
heradversariesinCongressanopeningtoseekherremoval.
ItwastherecentdefectionofMr.Temerthathelpedsealherfate,
providingopponentsinthelowerhousethecrucialblocofvotesthey
neededtopushforwardwithimpeachment.
ButMr.TemermaybeevenlesspopularthanMs.Rousseff,withone
recentpollfindingthatonly2percentofBrazilianswouldvoteforhim.He
alsofaceshisownlegalproblems.Anelectoralcourtorderedhimthis
monthtopayafineforviolatingcampaignfinancelimits.Therulingcould
makehimineligibletorunforelectedofficeforeightyears,creatingan
unusualsituationinwhichapoliticianbarredfromcampaigningendsup

runningthecountry.
Fixingtheeconomy,whichmayrequireadoptingunpopularausterity
measures,isjustoneofthechallengesfacingMr.Temer,75.Criticshave
expressedconcernoversomeofhistopadvisers,severalofwhomareunder
investigation,includingRomeroJuc,asenatorfromRoraimaStateinthe
Amazon,andGeddelVieiraLima,aformerexecutiveatoneofBrazils
largestpublicbanks.Mr.Temerhasinsistedthatthoseinquirieswouldnot
preventhimfromnamingtheadviserstohiscabinet.
ManybusinessleadersandeconomistshaveexpressedhopethatMr.
Temerwillwincongressionalsupportforchangeslikereducingfederal
pensions,privatizingstateownedcompaniesandamendinglaborlawsthat
criticssayhampereconomicgrowth.
Temerhas100daystogettheballrollingandaddressthisdisaster,
saidMarcosTroyjo,acodirectoroftheBRICLabatColumbiaUniversity,
whichfocusesonBrazil,Russia,IndiaandChina.
Despitethechargesagainsther,Ms.Rousseffisrareamongtop
politiciansinBrazilinthatshehasnotfacedaccusationsofillegally
enrichingherself.
EduardoCunha,thepowerfulspeakerofthelowerhouse,wholedthe
impeachmenteffort,wasorderedbytheSupremeCourttostepdownlast
weektofacetrialonchargesthathepocketedasmuchas$40millionin
bribes.
Hisreplacement,WaldirMaranho,isaccusedoftakingbribesinthe
enormousgraftschemesurroundingthenationaloilcompany,Petrobras.
AndRenanCalheiros,theSenateleader,isunderinvestigationoverclaims
thathereceivedbribesinthescandal,too.Hehasalsobeenaccusedoftax
evasionandofallowingalobbyisttopaychildsupportforadaughterfrom
anextramaritalaffair.
Thoughbadlyweakened,leadersfromMs.Rousseffspartyare
determinedtoremainathorninthesideoftheincominggovernment,

whichmanybelieveisillegitimate.SpeakingtoreportersoutsidetheSenate
chamberonWednesday,SenatorHumbertoCosta,leaderoftheWorkers
Partycaucus,saidhewasleftwithnochoicebuttoembrace
obstructionism.
Wewilltreatthemtothekindofstiffoppositiontheyimposedonour
government,hesaid.Thereisnootherpathforus.

FollowAndrewJacobs@AndrewJacobsNYTandSimon
Romero@viaSimonRomeroonTwitter.
PaulaMouracontributedreporting.

2016TheNewYorkTimesCompany