Brazil In Turmoil Over Vote To Impeach Its President

Brazil In Turmoil Over Vote To Impeach Its President

Brazil In Turmoil Over Vote To Impeach Its President

Brazil is going through a massive political shakeup, and it will end up affecting us in the United States.

Its president, Dilma Rousseff, was formally impeached by the lower house of its Congress, the Chamber of Deputies.

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff, in 2013
Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff, in 2013

Rousseff is accused of using accounting tricks in managing the federal budget to maintain spending and shore up support. She has said previous presidents used similar maneuvers and stressed that she has not been charged with any crimes or implicated in any corruption scandals.

However, she failed to secure the support she needed, and the needed two-thirds of lawmakers in the Chamber of Deputies voted to oust her.

With at least 342 of 513 deputies voting in favor of impeachment, the measure passed. Several lawmakers had yet to vote, so the final tally could be an even wider victory for the opposition.

The measure now goes to the Senate. If by a simple majority the Senate votes to take it up and put the president on trial, Rousseff will be suspended and the top job taken by Vice President Michel Temer.

Rousseff, who is a member of Brazil’s leftist Worker’s Party, was elected in 2011, and re-elected in 2014. She has seen her popularity plummet as corruption has overtaken those around her.

Brazil has turned dramatically against the country’s first female president. Once one of the most popular leaders in the world, with approval ratings of 92%, Rousseff has since seen her support plunge as a result of economic recession, political turmoil and the Lava Jato investigation into corruption at Petrobras, which has implicated almost all of the major parties.

Several senior Workers party officials have been arrested in connection with the scandal and former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva is under investigation. As a former energy minister and head of her party, critics say Rousseff should have known what was going on, but she has not been charged.

Recent polls suggest only 10% of the public think the president is doing a good job and 60% support her removal.

Her supporters in red were loudly protesting the impeachment vote, while her opposition in yellow and green cheered.

But why does this matter to the United States?

First, the Zika virus. Brazil is the current epicenter of the outbreak, and with a government in chaos, there is little focus in Brazil on combating the virus and stopping the spread. The CDC confirmed last week that the virus can cause severe birth defects, and with the news that the virus can also be sexually transmitted, mosquitos are not going to be the only problem going forward.

And second, the Summer Olympics. They are going to be held in Rio de Janeiro this August, and between concerns over huge tourist numbers, the Zika virus (with some athletes opting to skip the games over their concerns), and now a political crisis, the 2016 Summer Olympics are poised to be a disaster. There are even questions about whether Brazil can even afford to handle the Olympics in its current economic state.

Be prepared to hear a lot more about Brazil in the news than you ever have before. Even if Rousseff survives this impeachment vote, their political, economic, and health crises are far from over.

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