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Opinion, by Michael Royster

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – “Impeachment” is not a word in Portuguese. It has been used in English since 14th century England, and in the United States since the 18th Century. It is similar to an indictment, or an official imputation of a crime. After indictment, a trial is held, and if convicted, the defendant is removed from office.

Michael Royster, aka The Curmudgeon.
Michael Royster, aka The Curmudgeon.

The U.S. Constitution says impeachment is applicable to “treason, bribery or other high crimes and misdemeanors.” It is important to note that the word “high” has nothing to do with the level of the crime, but rather with the criminal. Only the holders of high governmental office can be impeached, i.e. accused of behavior incompatible with their official obligations.

This is relevant to Brazil today. In Brazil’s Constitution the equivalent of impeachment is referred to as a crime “of accountability”, as opposed to a “common” crime. Dilma’s defenders miss the mark when they argue that she has never obtained any financial benefit from her actions, that she is not corrupt. But corruption is a “common crime” whose punishment involves prison, not removal from office.

Another erroneous argument used by those who deny President Dilma’s impeachability is that her actions were mere administrative peccadillos, commonly used by her predecessors, never before thought worthy of prosecution. Her lawyers have essentially admitted she regularly performed “pedaladas” and paid expenses without congressional authorization.

These actions violate two important federal statutes: the law of fiscal accountability and the budget law. Both laws are specifically designed to keep high executive officials (presidents, governors, mayors) from playing fast and loose with public funds. Dilma violated those laws, repeatedly.

It remains to be seen whether at least 54 Senators agree that, because of the high level of accountability of the President (“the buck stops here”) what Dilma did constitutes a “high crime or misdemeanor”. If they do, she will be removed from office. If not, she will remain President.

The Curmudgeon does not apologize for importing Anglo-saxon legal terminology, because almost everyone in Brazil does that nowadays.

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6 COMMENTS

  1. Another point to consider is that although Dilma may not have benefitted financially from her crimes she did benefit. The result of her fraudulent behavior was to win the presidency of Brazil.
    Does anyone think she would have kept her 2% point advantage had the public widely known that the country was already in recession? As I recall they just barely made one of the prior quarters positive by manipulation. Would she have kept the 2% had the public known that the deficit was 10% of GDP? Would she have kept the 2% had the public known that the total indebtedness of the government, including all the subsidiary companies, had grown 3 fold under her administration?

    Lastly, I doubt the public would have kept her had they known that the value of providencial social’s investment had fallen by R$800B. (Believe I read that right).

  2. Anyone familiar with politics knows that being completely honest is practically impossible. That’s why complete honesty is so rare in politics.

  3. Alan,

    I’m not so naive as to not understand that. But the magnitude of her lies is in a category by itself. Did Nixon’s burglars compare to the economic disaster created by Dilma?

    Since she apparently won’t resign, I’m hoping she follows the fine example of Getulio Vargas. She may even luck out and have a university named for her (only in Brazil).

  4. About half of the members of the parliament have been accused of criminal manoeuvres. Who’s going to replace Dilma one day? Someone perfectly honest?
    The magnitude of her lies – petty crimes. Let’s see what the next president will do.

  5. MODERN TREND VERSUS MODERN PRECEDENT:
    The Impeachment of “Her Excellence Dilma Rousseff
    COMPARED WITH
    The resignation of his Holiness Pope Benedict XVI, former POPE BENEDICT for:
    (A) ALLEGATION(S) CLAIMS and (B) PROOF (S) of MISMANAGEMENT, among other
    the management of the ACCOUNTS OR BANK ACCOUNTS of the Union: PROBLEMS of ALIEN/FOREIGN GOVERNMENT ACCOUNTS of the VATICAN GOVERNMENT, “in respondeat superior”

    NEW PRECEDENTS and NEW OUTCOME (S): Example with similar or equivalent results: Allegedly,
    His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI RESIGNED without an IMPEACHMENT by the MISMANAGEMENT of the ACCOUNTS of the FOREIGN GOVERNMENT of the VATICAN, “in respondeat superior” with logical fallacies, “logical fallacies”

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