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Each week The Rendon Group’s media analysts will focus on a different continent and a different issue affecting that continent. As always, we remain available to answer any questions you may have and to provide additional information upon request. For more information regarding The Rendon Group’s products and services, please contact us at Alert@Rendon.com or +1-202-745-4900.
Brazil impeachment: President Dilma Rousseff’s fate in Senate hands
Protests in impeachment battle against President Rousseff. (CNN)
This week’s snapshot focuses on the impeachment trial of suspended Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff. The trial began on 25AUG, and centers around charges that Rousseff manipulated the federal budget and took illegal state loans in an attempt to conceal the country’s economic problems. Rousseff has defended herself by pointing out that other former presidents used similar accounting techniques, and she has dismissed the impeachment as a “coup” by corrupt opposition lawmakers meant to derail investigations into corruption at the state oil company. Nonetheless, Rousseff is widely expected to be convicted and impeached. If 54 of the 81 senators vote to oust her, Michel Temer, the interim president and her former vice president, will replace Rousseff until the end of the current term in 2018. Rousseff’s ouster would end Partido dos Trabalhadores’ (the Worker’s Party) 13-year rule. With former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva also mired in a corruption scandal, it is unclear how the party would recover if Rousseff is convicted. A recent poll indicates that 51 senators are committed to voting to dismiss Rouseff; only 19 support her, and 11 are yet undecided. The Senate will hear a total of eight witnesses, and both Rousseff and her mentor and predecessor in the presidency, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, are expected to testify on 29AUG. The final vote will take place 30AUG or 31 AUG.
News summary of events during the week of 22AUG16 – 29AUG16
22AUG: Foreign business leaders complained that the ongoing corruption scandal was paralizing the regional economy. (Bloomberg)
23AUG: The lawyer representing President Rousseff says she was a giant underdog going into her impeachment trial, but said he is counting on the weight of history to sway senators in her favor. (AFP)
24AUG: Brazil’s Supreme Court chief justice rejected a request from Rousseff to annul the session at which senators voted to open an impeachment trial against her. (AFP)
24AUG: On the eve before the impeachment trial opened, polls indicated that 51 senators were committed to voting to dismiss Rouseff; only 19 supported her, and 11 were undecided. (Reuters)
25AUG: The Rousseff trial began, presided over by Supreme Court Chief Justice Ricardo Lewandowski. Senators heard witnesses for and against the suspended president. (Reuters)
25AUG: Judge Lewandowski disqualified a key witness, Julio Marcelo de Oliveira, a prosecutor at the Federal Court of Accounts, after Rousseff’s defense team argued that he had attended popular protests against her. (Xinhua)
26AUG: Proceedings in the impeachment trial were forced to a brief halt after a shouting match broke out between Rousseff’s supporters and opponents. (Reuters)
26AUG: Brazil’s federal police recommended charges against former president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva and his wife in connection with the corruption probe at state-run oil company Petrobras. (AP)
27AUG: Several witnesses, including former economy minister Nelson Barbosa, testified in defense of Rousseff. Barbosa stated that Rousseff did not break any laws or cause harm to the Brazilian economy. (AFP)
28AUG: The impeachment battle was set to reach a dramatic climax as President Rousseff makes a last stand before a hostile and corruption-plagued Senate. (Guardian)
29AUG: A defiant President Rousseff delivered what may be her last speech as president of Brazil, appealing to senators not to vote for her ouster. (Washington Post)
Sample of Twitter handles tweeting about the trial
@dlbrydon – Dr Diana Brydon, Professor of Globalization and Cultural Studies, Royal Society of Canada
@rolanddlp – Roland Lloyd Parry, AFP journalist in Montevideo
@MSavarese – Mauricio Savarese, Associated Press reporter in Rio
@Vinncent – Vincent Bevins, Brazil correspondent for Los Angeles Times
@snolen – Stephanie Nolen, Brazil-based Latin America Correspondent for Globe and Mail
Sample of Third Party Validators regarding the trial
Helena Chagas, Journalist and political commentator, formely Ms. Rousseff’s minister of social communication 2011-2014
“It’s her opportunity to look her accusers in the eye…She is acting to preserve her own image. She knows she won’t come back.”
“Impeachment Trial of President Dilma Rousseff Set to Start in Brazil Senate”, WSJ, 24AUG16
Paulo Sotero, Director, Brazil Institute, Wilson Center
“Mr Temer’s challenge is about restoring domestic and foreign investor confidence and citizens’ trust in the government, which is a very tall order…But there is no alternative.”
“ Dilma Rousseff faces impeachment in Brazil”, Financial Times, 25AUG16
Carlos Melo, Professor of political science, Insper (São Paulo, Brazil)
“[Rousseff’s appeal on Facebook] looks like a final gesture of despair, an act of rhetoric that is likely to have little effect.”
“Dilma Rousseff, Brazil’s Suspended President, Appeals for Reprieve”, NYT, 16AUG16
Thomas Trebat, Director, Columbia University’s Global Centers, Rio de Janeiro
“There is a sense of the air being cleared and a new beginning. The problems are still there, but there seems to be a political consensus that this is the way forward.”
“Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff’s impeachment trial begins, the latest crisis in a traumatic year”, Washington Post, 25AUG16
Monica de Bolle, Non-resident senior fellow, Peterson Institute for International Economics (PIIE)
“Impeachment is a traumatic process…The country is still split. There are those who view this entire process as something that was manipulated by Temer and his Brazilian Democratic Movement party (PMDB).”
“Brazilian president’s trial underway but impeachment is ‘a done deal’”, CNBC, 25AUG16
Sample of open source research conducted by TRG analysts related to the trial
1. Brazil top court rejects Rousseff request to annul impeachment session
Media: Agence France-Presse (AFP)
Date: 24 August 2016
Brasília, Aug 24, 2016 (AFP) – Brazil’s Supreme Court chief justice has rejected a request from suspended president Dilma Rousseff to annul the session at which senators voted to open an impeachmenttrial against her.
Rousseff’s lawyers had argued that some of the procedures used at the session, held August 10, violated her rights.
2. Brazil president’s Senate impeachment trial starts
Media: Associated Press
Date: 25 August 2016
Brazil’s Senate on Thursday began deliberating whether to permanently remove President Dilma Rousseff from office, the final step in a leadership fight that has paralyzed Congress and cast a pall over a nation in the midst of a severe recession.
3. UPDATE: Charges recommended for Brazil ex-president Silva in probe
Media: Associated Press
Date: 26 August 2016
RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — Brazil’s federal police have recommended charges against former president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva and his wife in connection with the sprawling corruption probe at state-run oil giant Petrobras.
Friday’s announcement comes on the second day of the impeachment trial against Silva’s protege and successor Dilma Rousseff, who has been suspended from office since May.
4. Brazil’s Senate begins hearing testimony of final Rousseff defence witnesses
Media: Xinhua (China)
Date: 27 August 2016
BRASILIA, Aug. 27 (Xinhua) — On Saturday morning, Brazil’s Senate began hearing the testimony of the final two defence witnesses in the impeachment trial of suspended President Dilma Rousseff.
These are Rousseff’s former Minister of Finance, Nelson Barbosa, and Ricardo Lodi, a law professor from the State University of Rio de Janeiro.
5. UPDATE: Supporters of Brazil’s Rousseff insist she broke no laws
Media: Agence France-Presse (AFP)
Date: 28 August 2016
Brasília, Aug 28, 2016 (AFP) – The final witnesses in the defense of suspended Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff testified late Saturday in her senate impeachment trial, days before a vote that could permanently remove her from power.
Rousseff, 68, is accused of taking illegal state loans to help bridge budget shortfalls and mask the true state of the economy during her 2014 reelection campaign.
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