Opinion, by Michael Royster
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – In the year 49 BC, Julius Caesar, upon crossing the Rubicon river in northern Italy, famously stated “alea iacta est” or “the die is cast”. At 6:20 this morning, Brazil’s Senate crossed the impeachment Rubicon by voting, 55 to 22, to begin the trial of Brazil’s President for “crimes of accountability”—the equivalent to the US concept of “high crimes and misdemeanors”.
This decision means that, starting today, for the next 180 days, Brazil’s President is Michel Miguel Elias Temer Lulia — yes, that’s his full name. Although he is officially only an interim or acting President, he has all the powers of the Presidency.
There are two principal ways the 180 day period can be reduced. One of those is for the trial to be conducted in rapid fashion and the verdict (guilty or innocent) reached in, say, 100 days. Dilma will either be permanently removed from office or returned to office.
The best way to reduce the 180 day period, of course, is for Dilma to resign.
In a prior column, the Curmudgeon opined “It remains to be seen whether at least 54 Senators agree that, because of the high level of accountability of the President what Dilma did constitutes a high crime or misdemeanor.”
In view of today’s vote, where 55 Senators agreed that Dilma should stand trial, there is no longer any doubt about the outcome of the trial. It is inconceivable that any Senators, having decided there should be a trial after hearing all the arguments, would change their minds and vote against impeachment. Alea iacta est.
Given this inevitably fatal scenario, why should Dilma cling to the title? She should follow the example of Richard Nixon and Fernando Collor de Mello and resign before the trial is held.
The Curmudgeon does not apologize for importing historical terminology.