BREAKING: Brazil Impeaches Dilma Rousseff In Historic Senate Trial, Michel Temer Sworn In

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(UK Guardian) Michel Temer confirmed as new president after 61 of 81 senators back Rousseff’s removal from office amid economic decline and bribery scandal
Brazil’s first female president Dilma Rousseff has been thrown out of office by the country’s corruption-tainted senate after a gruelling impeachment trial that ends 13 years of Workers’ party rule.
Following a crushing 61 to 20 defeat in the upper house, she will be replaced for the remaining two years and four months of her term by Michel Temer, a centre-right patrician who was among the leaders of the campaign against his former running mate.
In a separate vote, the senate voted 42 to 36 not to bar Rousseff from public office for eight years.
In his first address to the nation after being sworn in by Congress last night, Temer said it was time to unite the country, vowing to work to rescue an economy mired in recession and guarantee political stability for foreign investors.
Rousseff was defiant after being ousted. “They think they’ve defeated us, but they’re wrong,” she said from her official residency, her voice cracking and eyes moist with emotion. “I know we will all fight.”
Despite never losing an election, Rousseff – who first won power in 2010 – had seen her support among the public and in congress diminish as a result of a sharp economic decline, government paralysis and a massive bribery scandal that has implicated almost all the major parties.
For more than 10 months, the leftist leader fought efforts to impeach her for frontloading funds for government social programmes and issuing spending budget decrees without congressional approval ahead of her reelection in 2014. The opposition claimed that these constituted a “crime of responsibility”. Rousseff denies this and claims the charges – which were never levelled at previous administrations who did the same thing – have been trumped up by opponents who were unable to accept the Workers’ party’s victory.
Speaking to her supporters from the presidential palace after the vote, Rousseff pledged to appeal her impeachment, which she called a parliamentary coup. The ousted president also called on her supporters to fight the conservative agenda now bolstered by her removal from office.
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“Right now, I will not say goodbye to you. I am certain I can say, ‘See you soon,’” she told supporters in Brasilia.
In keeping with her pledge to fight until the end for the 54 million voters who put her in office, Rousseff – a former Marxist guerrilla – ended her presidency this week with a gritty 14-hour defence of her government’s achievements and a sharply worded attack on the “usurpers” and “coup-mongers” who ejected her from power without an election.
Her lawyer, José Eduardo Cardozo, said the charges were trumped up to punish the president’s support for a huge corruption investigation that has snared many of Brazil’s elite. This follows secret recordings of Romero Jucá, the majority leader of the senate and a key Temer ally, plotting to remove the president to halt the Lava Jato (car wash) investigation into kickbacks at state oil company Petrobras.
The final result was comfortably more than the two-thirds (54 seats) needed to finalise the president’s removal from office.
Shortly after 1.30pm, suspense filled the floor as senators watched as the upper house reached a quorum. Among the last to vote was the Workers Party’s Jorge Viana as a hush fell across the packed room. There were cheers of “Brazil!” from the pro-impeachment camp as the numbers flashed up on the screen before a group of senators burst into a rendition of the national anthem.
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While Rousseff was in the upper chamber, her critics heard her in respectful silence. But in a final session in her absence on Tuesday, they lined up to condemn her. As in an earlier lower house impeachment debate, the senators – many of whom are accused of far greater crimes – clearly revelled in the spotlight of their ten-minute declarations. Reflecting the growing power of rightwing evangelism, many invoked the name of God. One cited Winston Churchill. Another sang. Another appeared to be in tears.
“I apologise to the president, not for having done what did, because I could not have done anything else, but because I know her situation is not easy,” claimed a sobbing Janaína Paschoal, one of the original co-authors of the impeachment petition. “I think she understands I did all this in consideration of her grandchildren.”
The result was never in doubt, though Workers’ party figurehead and former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva – who also faces a trial of his own – had lobbied hard until the last moment to try to swing enough senators to avoid impeachment.
At the end of the marathon 16-hour session of speeches, the final nail was hammered in by the former Brazilian footballer Romário, who had been rumoured to be among the few senators who might change their minds and save the president. Instead, he wound up the debate by confirming that he would once again vote for impeachment. “It’s a sad moment when you decide to remove a president,” he told the chamber. However he said he was convinced that Rousseff had committed a crime of responsibility.
Ahead of the verdict, senator Vanessa Grazziotin, of the Communist Party of Brazil, arrived with a sense of resignation. “I’ve worn a mixture of red [for the Workers’ party] and black because today is a day of mourning,” she said. “I’m going to cry.” However, she and other Rousseff allies hoped they could minimise Rousseff’s punishment.
Workers’ party senator Lindbergh Farias said the president’s accusers were cowards. “It’s amazing how everyone who didn’t have the gall to look Dilma in the eyes, spoke so bravely today in her absence,” he tweeted.
The final result was comfortably more than the two-thirds (54 seats) needed to finalise the president’s removal from office.
Shortly after 1.30pm, suspense filled the floor as senators watched as the upper house reached a quorum. Among the last to vote was the Workers Party’s Jorge Viana as a hush fell across the packed room. There were cheers of “Brazil!” from the pro-impeachment camp as the numbers flashed up on the screen before a group of senators burst into a rendition of the national anthem.
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