Brazil political crisis escalates as party pulls out of coalition. Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff has come closer to being impeached by the Congress as her allies have left the coalition. The Brazilian Democratic Movement Party(PMDB) has announced that they are no longer cooperating with Pres. Rousseff.
The PMDB has pulled their six government ministers and informed their party members that they must leave all government appointments or face ethics charges.
There are a series of incidents that have brought the country and more particularly Rousseff to this point. The biggest scandal is that surrounding the government owned petroleum corporation –Petroleo Brasileiro – which has nearly two billion dollars unaccounted for. Many believe it is in the pockets of Rousseff and friends.
The former president was able to name the board members sitting on the petroleum company. Pres. Roussoff was on the board. The investigation into the missing money had the former president in for questioning. Roussoff tried to have him appointed to a government position so that he would be immune from prosecution, but was thwarted in that move.
Now the congress may impeach her. If they don’t the Brazilian Bar Association (OAB) filed a request to impeach on Monday on the grounds that she obstructed justice and used fiscal accounting tricks. If that request doesn’t fly, they OAB has filed a second request regarding Rousoff’s granting of tax exempt status to FIFA during the 2014 World Cup.
If it comes to a parliamentary vote, with the departure of the PMDB from the coalition, it is unlikely that Rousseff can garner enough votes to thwart the ouster. The vote to impeach is likely to be held in April and if successful, will be before the Senate by May.
If the president is ousted, the VP will take over the office.
The political turmoil comes as a particularly bad time for Brazil which is slated to hold the 2016 Olympics in August. Controversy has swirled around the filthy conditions of the water sports venues. Because of the recession budgets have been slashed. The country is mired in the worst recession in a generation due to the low petroleum prices(and the disappearance of billions of dollars). The Zika virus has also created a nation wide health crisis.
Scandals, corruption, money laundering, the worst recession in 25 years in Brazil threaten to put a damper on the 2016 Olympics in Rio.
Brazil depends heavily on its oil revenues for much of its economy. The world price for petroleum has plummeted and Brazil is suffering. Added to that a two year investigation of the state owned Petrobras corporation, dubbed Operation Car Wash, has uncovered suspicion that over one billion dollars in revenue has been siphoned off by corrupt officials. The timeline starts when the Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff was chair of the corporation.
Many of Rousseff’s inner circle are under suspicion. The president is facing impeachment and may be out of office before August. Former president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva has been taken into custody for questioning. He was released after a short period. Rousseff’s gambit to make him a member of the current government to shield him from court has failed as the country’s judges have ruled the move illegal.
The economic recession has hit the preparations for the Olympic venues hard. Some venues have been hit with budget cuts and the contracts for the equestrian and tennis venues were recinded. The police chief for Rio made a statement that his budget has just been cut by $600 million US. It is difficult to imagine that security will not be affected by such a massive cut.
Some of the sailing and water sports facilities have already been modified. The concern over the heavily polluted water around Rio de Janeiro has some athletes taking extreme measures to avoid contamination. While Rio has a modern face, many of the home and apartment buildings lack basic sewer connections or treatment and raw sewage flows into most of the waterways. One of the promises made when competing to hold this year’s games was the promise to clean up the waterways. It didn’t happen.
It seems unbelievable that on top of all the scandal and uproar in Brazilian politics that anything more could be added to the mix, but the epidemic of the mosquito borne Zika virus has prompted WHO to declare a health emergency. Coupled with what might be a mild viral infection is the real possibility that the virus causes profound damage to the unborn. It has also been implicated in an increase in Guillain Barre Syndrome which can cause paralysis and/or death. Women who might be pregnant or who might become pregnant have been warned of the dangers of travelling to Brazil or other affected countries.
This last week, about 2 million people marched in the streets of Rio to announce their displeasure with their government’s handling of affairs.
By the same author:
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