The President was accused of emitting credits without the authorization of the Congress and of delaying payments to public banks in order to finance social programs. These fiscal strategies, however, were used by previous governments, without any political consequences. Moreover, a report submitted by the technical staff of the Senate noted that the accusations against Rousseff did not have any basis, and they did not constitute a “crime of responsibility,” which the Constitution requires for the removal of a president from office. The report maintained that no evidence was presented of crimes of corruption or “crimes of responsibility.”
The accusation of corruption against Dilma Rousseff is political farce. Brazil has a notoriously corrupt political process, and Dilma, who was imprisoned by the military dictatorship in the early 1970s, enjoys a reputation of personally not participating in common corrupt practices. Moreover, she and her Workers’ Party, which captured the presidency under the leadership of Luis Inácio Lula in 2002, has been seeking to reform the political system, restructure the financing of political campaigns, and investigate cases of corruption. Indeed, sixty percent of the Senators who voted for her removal are presently under investigation for corruption; as is Michel Temer, the former Vice-President who became interim president on May 12 and now assumes the presidency until 2018; and as are seven members of the government that Temer has formed since May. One wonders if the parliamentary coup is a strategy by corrupt politicians to stop investigations moving against them.
Beyond its efforts to combat corruption, the Workers’ Party of Brazil is a threat to the interests of the Brazilian oligarchy and US imperialism. As the Cuban government pointed out in its declaration of solidarity with Dilma, Lula and the Workers’ Party, the governments of Lula and Dilma, in addition to combating poverty and increasing education and health care, have been actively participating in the process of Latin American and Caribbean integration, seeking to develop an alternative to a US-imposed form of integration. Brazil played a central role in the defeat of the US-proposed Free Trade Agreement of the Americas (FTAA), and it was the leading force in the constitution of the South American Union of Nations (UNASUR). It also has been an active member in BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa), which has been seeking to sidestep the US- and European-dominated world-system by developing alternative structures of commerce, finance and cultural exchange among the nations of the South (see Declaration of the Revolutionary Government of August 31, 2016).
The removal of Dilma from office is a victory for the imperialist and right-wing counteroffensive against the progressive governments of Latin America. The counteroffensive has assumed a new intensity since 2014, when the fall of raw materials prices, including a sharp decline in the price of oil, created economic difficulties for the region. The counteroffensive has included: economic war and political destabilization in Venezuela; the organization of miners into cooperatives advocating privatization, in opposition to the mining unions, in Bolivia; and an international media campaign to discredit the upcoming elections in Nicaragua.
Central to the political process that culminated in the removal of Dilma from office was the abandonment of the Workers’ Party coalition by the Brazilian Democratic Movement Party (PMDB). The PMDB decided to abandon its alliance with the Workers’ Party and to join in the imperialist and oligarchic counteroffensive. Inasmuch as the previous agreement with the Workers’ Party resulted in the PMDB occupying the Vice-Presidency in the person of Temer, the initiative to remove Dilma has had the result of putting the PMDB, now allied with the Right, in control of the executive branch.
But the victory of the imperialist and oligarchic counteroffensive may not be long-lasting. Following the shameful vote, Dilma declared to the people that she will continue to struggle tirelessly for the good of the nation, and that she will confront the illegitimate government with determined opposition. And on the following day, there were massive popular demonstrations against the Temer government. Does the dishonorable conduct of the Right make it possible for the Workers’ Party to form new alliances, perhaps with the radical Left, and return to power in 2018 with greater strength?
In the region as a whole, during the counteroffensive since 2014, when the Right has taken partial control (in Venezuela, Argentina and Brazil), it has acted in an uncompromising manner, in accordance with the interests of US imperialism and the Brazilian hierarchy. Measures taken and proposed include privatizations, cutbacks in social programs, and greater opening for foreign capital; clearly revealing the intention of the Right to return to the neoliberal and anti-popular policies of the 1980s and 1990s. The conduct of the Right in its recent partial taking of power should teach the people to not be deceived by the vague promises of politicians who stand opposed to the progressive governments, for said politicians represent the interests of the United States, transnational corporations, and the sector of the national bourgeoisie tied to transnational capital.
For the Cuban journalist Laura Bécquer Paseiro, the parliamentary coup d’état in Brazil is evidence of the serious limitations of bourgeois democracy. As she sees it, a conservative minority, soundly defeated in the elections of 2014, was able to nullify the political will of the people, expressed in the electoral process, by means of lies and political maneuvering.
This suggests that the people must not only reject the vague promises and distortions of the Right, but also must seek ways to fundamentally restructure the political process itself, so that it is not subject to manipulations by the powerful and the wealthy.