Biography: Maria Mendonca is director of Brazil's Network for Social Justice and Human Rights. She is also professor in the international relations department at the University of Rio De Janeiro.
Brazil's Impeachment Vote a Political Trial to Subvert Democracy
SHARMINI PERIES, TRNN: It's the Real News Network. I'm Sharmini Peries coming to you from Baltimore.
LATE Sunday night, Brazil's Chamber of Deputies which is the lower house of it's the lower house of its legislature, voted to move forward on impeaching President Dilma Rousseff. The voted followed 3 days of debate and passed with the required 2/3 majority. Rousseff and her supporters argued that the opposition is staging a coup against her. After all she's not being accused of having committed a crime or convicted of one. Rather she is being accused of having quietly taken out loans from government banks during an election year in order to temporarily hide a budget deficit. In contrast to Rousseff, most of the legislatures who are advocating for her impeachment are themselves under investigation or charged with far more serious offenses; outright corruption to enrich themselves. The impeachment process now moves through Brazil's Senate which must decide with a simple majority vote whether to hold a trial against Rousseff. If it passes, Rousseff will be temporarily removed from office for 6 months while a trial takes place and Vice President Michel Temer will take over for her. The Vice President himself faces some of the same charges that is being levied against President Rousseff.
With us to take a closer look at what's going on in Brazil is Maria Mendoza. Maria is Director of Brazil's Network for Social Justice and Human Rights and she's also Professor in International Relations at the University of Rio de Janeiro. Thank you so much for joining us Maria.
MARIA MENDOZA: Thank you.
PERIES: So Maria let's start with this impeachment vote that took place on Sunday. Would you say that it has merit?
MENDOZA: No not at all. The deputies didn't even discuss what kind of accusation there was supposedly against the President. It was just one series of discourses about god, the family, the importance of reserving the conservative values in society. Some of them even praised the dictatorship, the military dictatorship, the torture, the repression that happened at that time. So it was kind of a horror show that we watched over and over at this surreal debate that didn't even touch the issue of supposedly Dilma had done anything wrong. So it's clear that for us that now especially after we watched the debates that there was no accusation against her. It's actually a political trial a way to subvert the vote, the elections that took place in Brazil just in October of last year.
PERIES: Maria now you are working with a number of progressive social movements in Brazil. What are the sentiments there? How are they feeling? What are the levels of organization and support for the PT government if there is any?
MENDOZA: Yes, there have been large demonstrations against the impeachment and in the fans of democracy in Brazil. Even the social movements that have been more critical of the government are now taking the streets and protesting because it's clear to us that we're facing a parliamentary coup, very similar to what happened in Honduras and Paraguay recently. So we need to join forces and defend democracy. It's very important to have international solidarity. One of the main leaders of the opposition right now who is pressuring for the impeachment is visiting Washington, D.C. today and is trying to lobby the U.S. congress for support for the impeachment in Brazil. The same way that U.S. organizations have said that the U.S. government did not criticize the coup in Honduras and could also have had a role in that, I think it will be very important for the U.S. audience to pressure their representatives to criticize the impeachment process in Brazil the same way as other international organizations as the OAS have done. The UN, the Organization of American States, UNASUR, several multilateral organizations have criticized the impeachment process in Brazil when we expect that the U.S. government will play a positive role in this case.