Tired of our contentious politics? Look at Brazil's...
If you are tired of the circus-like atmosphere of our increasingly contentious primaries and their cast of zany characters, you can take some comfort in the fact that, compared to what is taking place in Brazil, they are an exemplary exercise in democracy.
The largest country in South America, famous for its music, its carnival, the beauty of its people and the dishonesty of its Congress was already suffering from an economic recession and the worst corruption scandals in years. Now it is also experiencing an all-out assault on its democratic system that is nothing short of a tragedy.
Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff, who was elected with 54 million votes, faces imminent impeachment. It is a travesty, another one of those “soft” coups that have become the weapon of choice of the Latin American oligarchies against the region’s progressive — and democratically elected — governments.
Similar plots to oust legitimate governments took place in Venezuela in 2002, where President Hugo Chávez was briefly out of power, and in Honduras in 2009, where President Manuel Zelaya was overthrown, many say with the approval of then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
In Brazil’s case the excuse was to crackdown on the very real problem of corruption. Yet Rousseff is not accused of any crime, but only of accounting manipulation in the federal budget to make the economy seem better than it really was.
In her defense she has said that other presidents have done similar things and has reminded everyone that she is not charged with any crime.
But, irony of ironies, while the President is not even being investigated for any illegality, many of the politicians holding the strings behind her ousting are well known thieves and influence traffickers, who face serious accusations of corruption themselves.
The prime mover of the conspiracy is Eduardo Cunha, a famously corrupt evangelical minister who is the speaker of the Chamber of Deputies. On Sunday a majority of the deputies — 50 percent of which are being investigated for corruption —voted for continuing the impeachment process. Now the fate of the President is in the hands of the Senate, which is expected to vote the same way.
You have to admire Cunha’s gall once you know that while Rousseff is not charged with corruption, he is accused of money laundering and taking $5 million in kickbacks in connection with the scandal of Petrobras, the gigantic state oil concern.
Cunha could be kicked out of office since he is also accused of lying to a congressional committee when he denied having any money in foreign banks. Later, documents were discovered that told a different story: Cunha and his family did have accounts in Swiss banks.
Obviously, Rousseff’s impeachment is nothing more than a coup destined to push the progressive Workers Party — her party — from power and return it to Brazil’s traditional elites. Its consequences although unpredictable, are sure to be terrible. The coup not only does not put an end to corruption but places the country’s most dishonest politicians — Cunha and his ilk — in positions of even more power from where they can do more of what they do best: ransack the public treasure and engage in all kinds of illegal self-enriching deals at the expense of the people of Brazil and its democracy.
A tragic case of the cure being worse than the disease.