By Lise Alves, Senior Contributing Reporter
SÃO PAULO, BRAZIL – Today (Wednesday, May 11th) the Senate in Brazil starts to vote on whether or not to launch an impeachment trial against President Dilma Rousseff for mismanagement of funds to hide budget deficits. The session is supposed to last into the night and the odds sway heavily towards President Rousseff being removed from office.
According to Senate officials, 68 of the 81 senators have signed up to speak at the podium before giving their vote. For security measures the Ministry Mall has been closed since midnight for vehicles and the Tres Poderes Plaza, where Brazil’s Congress building is located, has been closed off to the public.
Similarly to what occurred in April, when the Chamber of Deputies voted for the impeachment, a metal barrier has been set up to divide the anti-impeachment protesters from the pro-impeachment group.
If a simple majority, 41 of the 81 senators, decides to approve an impeachment trial against Brazil’s leader, President Rousseff will be suspended from office for up to 180 days, while the trial occurs. With the suspension, current Vice-President, Michel Temer, would take over as interim president during the trial.
The Wednesday Senate session occurs during a very volatile period in Brazilian politics. Last Thursday, May 5th, Speaker of the Chamber of Deputies, Eduardo Cunha, was suspended from his legislative duties by the Supreme Court. Cunha is accused of receiving bribes in the mega-corruption scandal known as Operação Lava Jato (Operation Carwash).
His replacement, Waldir Maranhão, announced on Monday, May 9th, he was annulling the impeachment approval given by the Chamber in mid-April, only to reverse his decision less than 24-hours later.
On Tuesday, May 10th, former leader of the government in the Senate, and one of the PT’s (Workers’ Party) most influential legislators, Delcidio do Amaral, was ousted from the Senate by 74 votes in favor and 0 against. Amaral was accused of offering to pay off the family of a former Petrobras director in return for his silence.