If further proof were needed that was has recently occurred in Brazil has been a coup, the country’s ‘interim’ government – led by unpopular and illegitimate Michel Temer – is already being undermined by a leaked audio tape indicating that the impeachment of democratically elected president Dilma Rousseff was a pre-planned conspiracy.
The tape was recorded weeks before the lower house of parliament voted to impeach Rousseff. Brazil’s Folha de Sao Paulo newspaper has published parts of the recordings, and the scandal has already forced a key minister to resign. Planning Minister Romero Juca, a tight ally of acting President Michel Temer, has said he is stepping down.
Minister Juca is heard in the recordings explaining that Rousseff had to be removed from power in order to divert a corruption investigation that would’ve implicated him and a number of other politicians. It was of course questioned from the start of the impeachment proceedings whether Rousseff herself had actually done anything illegal. She had not been accused of any corruption herself – but only of disguising the size of the government’s budget deficit in the lead-up to her re-election; generally regarded as something most Brazilian leaders have done.
On the other hand, five members of the impeachment commission have themselves been under criminal investigation for major corruption. Of the 65 members that made up the ‘House impeachment committee’, 36 of them are reportedly awaiting pending legal proceedings. Fearful of corruption scandals of their own, it appears a plot was hatched to seize control of government and to focus all attention on Rousseff’s alleged ‘corruption’ instead.
Still most mainstream media, particularly in the United States, is refusing to call this a coup.
The impeached president Dilma Rousseff was herself openly calling it a coup by the time Mr Temer was being sworn in as president with his 22 handpicked cabinet ministers – all of them white and male (to administer a country in which over half the population is made up by people of colour). This also reinforces the racial and class dimensions to this coup, which were touched on in this initial post, particularly in regard to Glenn Greenwald’s observations concerning both the 1964 coup and the present manuever. ‘The 1964 coup and dictatorship were also supported by the nation’s extravagantly rich (and overwhelmingly white) upper class and its small middle class,’ he wrote. ‘As democracy opponents often do, Brazil’s wealthy factions regarded dictatorship as protection against the impoverished masses comprised largely of non-whites‘.
In keeping with the logical direction of a coup, Brazilian public media has promptly been neutralised by Temer’s administration. One of Temer’s earliest acts was to dismiss the head of the Brazil Communications Company – a public firm that administers the nation’s public media outlets – replacing him with a right-wing journalist who has a history of servicing right-wing operations.
All of this confirms the fears of Ernesto Samper, Secretary-General of the Union of South American Nations, who told teleSUR weeks ago that the decision of the Brazilian Congress to initiate an impeachment trial against the President was “compromising the democratic governability of the region in a dangerous way.”
Meanwhile pro democracy and pro Rouseff demonstrations have continued to take place, and the impeached president has herself vowed to fight this illegal coup.