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Opinion, by Michael Royster

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – No one in Brazil seems to want Dilma as President. Her approval ratings have sunk to nine percent, an all-time low. The Presidents of both houses of Congress are openly taking positions against her. Her Vice President, in charge of political liaison with Congress, has complained she won’t let him do his job. Half of PT, her own party, led by Lula, her predecessor, are in open revolt against her austerity program.

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

Worse yet, TCU, Brazil’s administrative oversight tribunal, has given Dilma thirty days in which to defend herself against well-documented charges that she violated several provisions of the Law on Fiscal Accountability. Her response, so far at least, has been to get a former Secretary of the Treasury to fall upon his sword and say “yes, I did it all.” He didn’t say “but she approved it” but no one believes he did it behind her back.

Dilma isn’t stupid. She’s heard the pan-beating and horn-blowing. She’s heard Lula carp from the sidelines about her not announcing any positive programs. She reads the poll results. She knows there’s a crisis of leadership.

What does she do? She flies off to visit President Obama, doing nothing significant. She flies back to dedicate the Olympic Torch, a completely insignificant ceremony. She offers no positive program for anything. Aécio, the candidate she defeated in the 2014 election, says she’s abdicated. He’s probably right.

It’s beginning to become clear that Dilma herself doesn’t want to be President. She hates the austerity program. She hates the revelations of widespread corruption in Petrobras. She hates allocating executive positions to incompetent, unscrupulous coalition parties. She hates being a lame duck.

Power-hungry political sharks are all circling her boat, which is leaking. She’s got no rudder and at most one oar. The Curmudgeon will not be surprised if she resigns within the next few months.

The Curmudgeon will emit more Dismal Smidgens opportunely. Stay tuned.

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The Curmudgeon moved to Rio almost forty years ago, and has pretty much remained here ever since. He's been writing political commentary for The Rio Times for almost seven years. He used to refer to himself as a WASP (look it up) but doesn't any more because it embarrasses him.

15 COMMENTS

  1. This is kind of sad to read. I’ve always liked to read your news in English, but with this opinion I’m not so sure I’ll care to read your publication anymore. Oh, well…

  2. I am sick of reading this guy who is not providing any added value to The Rio Times and readers. I invite him to share his opinions with his friends while drinking a beer at the bar; I don’t know who thought the Curmudgeon is qualified to write on this serious news site. I agree with Lucas, I am seriously thinking on not reading your publications anymore.

  3. Michael, you used to be the youngest curmudgeon I knew. I think your write up is topical, honest, and either thoughtful or provocative. Thoughtful because you actually don’t really use a heavy club in the piece but rather put an interesting spin on actual news. Provocative because you’ve gone out of your way to mention the “R” word, in a world in which most politicians just gut it out rather than respond with resignation. Brings up memories of both Richard Nixon and Getúlion Vargas! The other two guys who have commented above (and threatened to no longer read the Rio Times Online) seem to have no understanding of opinion versus journalism and seem to be reacting because they don’t like facts related in a straight forward manner. Thanks for the op-ed piece.

  4. This guy is not the problem. The problem is that everyone is at the bar voicing their opinion while their country is sinking to new lows.
    Get involved.

  5. Michael,
    Your comments are spot on. Please keep up the valuable contribution to the Rio community.
    Also, I couldn’t agree more with the previous 3 writers. The first 2, not so much.

  6. I usually enjoy reading Michael Royster’s articles (although often disagree with the content). However, on this occasion I fear he is way off the mark – I doubt if there is a politician alive who actually enjoys delivering programs of economic austerity whilst trying desperately to protect the interest of ordinary working-class citizens, clearly it is a difficult time for the President. But, to predict Dilma’s resignation within a three month period is as far fetched as your prediction of a election victory for Marina Silva last October!!!! …

  7. Very good, Steve. It doesn’t seem to me that Dilma will resign. And she shouldn’t, as it would weaken the Workers’ Party. Her opposition keeps saying that she will resign, or that they will impeach her, also as a means to weaken her government. But this kind of tactics in politics is not healthy, it doesn’t help Brazil get better as a nation economically or socially.

    Micheal, in case you live under a rock, here’s some relevant information about Dilma Rousseff: she was chosen as Lula’s successor and was elected and reelected democratically, and she continues to take care of awful social problems that endured in Brazil for too many decades back when irresponsible, oblivious and/or hypocritical politicians ruled that country. As a Brazilian citizen, I don’t feel like I’m a part of your “no one”, I support the federal Brazilian government and think they’re doing just fine. The Brazilian economy is stable (it’s not great, as expected a few years ago, but no other among the greatest nations in the world is doing so fine anyway), unemployment is not as nearly as bad as 15 years ago, when I left Rio de Janeiro and moved to New York.

  8. Several of the respondents defend Dilma. That’s ironic as 91% of Brazilians are dissatisfied with her. Those of us who live here, pay taxes here and have family here know better. She lied in countless areas during the campaign. She lied in her presentation of government accounts to the point where Federal Audit Court has exposed numerous fraudulent activities and the IMF stated a year or two ago that it didn’t believe the government’s books.
    Dilma’s government comes close to replicating the errors of the Greek government (Folha de Sao Paulo: http://www1.folha.uol.com.br/mercado/2015/07/1651765-semelhancas-entre-as-economias-grega-e-brasileira-surpreendem.shtml) and a close examination of the statics available online backup that assertion. People following the Brazilian economy know that industrial exports have fallen by half during the PT’s reign. We know that contraction in China will have a strong and immediate impact on the house of cards they’ve built. Just today, the price of iron ore hit another record low of below $50 a ton. The commodities market the PT counted on isn’t looking good.
    Again, to those who back Dilma and don’t live here, try this on for size. Income tax rates here are the same or higher than the US and you don’t write off home interest. Go buy a car and be prepared to pay 30-50% of the value in taxes. Go to the grocery store and check the receipt. You’ll find taxes of 30-45%. We’re being subjected to an 80%+ increase in electrical rates partially to fund her election year cut in electric rates, and, we’re told there will be additional rate increases.
    All of this to fund corruption and a bloated Federal government where functionaries are treated royally. In almost all categories their salaries far exceed similar employees of the US Federal Government.
    I don’t know whether she’ll resign or not. I don’t know that Michel Temer will be any better or not. But, I do know that, just like Greece, without wholesale changes to the tax structure, the antiquated employment regulations and massive improvements to the infrastructure this country won’t be able to achieve it’s potential.

  9. Lucas Eller,

    Brazilian citizen or not, your follow up comment proves how you’ve never helped or probably even set foot in, let alone helped a favela/community in Brazil and shows how incredibly uninformed you are about the serious problems Brazil has! As well as uninformed about how “Economic giants” like the U.S.A are, who’s on the verge of a revolution with the intelligent Bernie Sanders that is actually tackling serious issues that’s destroying the country!

    You have to read good sources, just because she won and Brazil is a democracy doesn’t mean it’s working well, just because other countries are failing (Or murdering at high rate) doesn’t make it ok does it?!

    Here’s some stats for you that is the result of Brazils history of terrible governance and now even worse (statistically if you just even read the “Metro” newspaper) under the incompetent Dilma!

    Brazil Rankings
    #1 for highest murder rate in the world!!!! 45,000 on average a year! 120 a day and 5 an hour!

    #2 for highest rape cases in the world!

    #1 for highest taxes in the world which blatantly not used in security, health or education!

    #88 for education in the world! WEF 2013 stats

    #48 for health services in the world (FYI USA #46 and Libia whos got huge war problems is #11!!)! Veja “Serviços de Saúde 2014 ranking”

    Time to read and get self informed and get involved buddy. Negligence and Ignorance breeds violence, injustice and inequality and perpetuates these terrible things to continue.

    Tom Kennedy, Edward and “American in Rio”, It seems we’re the only informed ones on this commentary.

  10. Nathan, when I lived in Brazil, in the 1980’s and 1990’s, Brazil wasn’t different than today, as you point out. Actually, it was worse, the economy was awful until the mid 1990’s, every time they elected a new president, the currency devalued and they would just create a new one. When I was a kid, I remember that every 4 or 5 years, when a new president was elected, my family would withdraw all their money from the bank account for safety. Then President Itamar Franco created “Plano Real”, which the PSDB party lied and said it was minister Fernando Henrique Cardoso who created it, and that helped him get elected president. F. H. Cardoso said in a meeting with then American president Bill Clinton that Brazil lost all its money, F.H. C. mentioned 10 billion dollars, then 30 billions dollars, and Mr. Clinton was very tough on his remarks about the then Brazilian president being just an irresponsible leader. That’s one of the two things that made Brazil worse then than it is today. The second problem was: social inclusion didn’t exist, and all these slums you see today all over the country were just dangerous and absolutely hopeless for so many millions of people who lived on them. Today, the PT has been slowly working to change the lives of millions who will eventually become the middle class of Brazil.

  11. @Lucas Eller

    Actually, the Fathers of “Plano Real” was mostly Edmar Bacha and Pedro Malan still in Collor administration, later continued by Rubens Ricupero. At the time the plan was made to try stop the humongous inflation caused by “Plano Verão” and “Plano Bresser” miserable and disastrous flops.

    Today, the problem with Brazil is that we have a big part of our population living in “poor” conditions, BUT, those “poor” see “Podreza (poorness)” as a quality.
    Most complains from the poor is that “poor people have no healthcare”, “poor people have no education”, “poor people have no security”, “poor people have no basic sanitation”. Well, that is true, and this make them poor, and not do not have a lot money.
    A lot of Brazilian politicians (regard of the Party) say that they will help “the poor”. But in true, most of them just want to keep “the poor”, poor, and thus easily manipulable. For that, those famous Brazilian “Favelas”, a slum in every sense, are perfect. They just need put a Nursery here, a sport center there, and BAM! Lots of votes in the next election.

  12. The problem is not necessarily Dilma… it is what Lula left for Dilma as part of his heritage. She is not the only one to blame.

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