By Lise Alves, Senior Contributing Reporter
SÃO PAULO, BRAZIL – Still trying to digest the negative political outcomes of last week and preparing for what promises to be another turbulent political week, Brazil’s President Dilma Rousseff spent her long, three-day holiday weekend meeting with top aides to discuss the country’s current political scenario. This week the Speaker of the Chamber of Deputies, Eduardo Cunha, is expected to decide whether or not to accept requests for the start of impeachment proceedings against the President.
Cunha, himself, is also expected to face a very difficult week, with Congressional representatives calling for his removal from the Lower House after investigations showed that he has Swiss bank accounts which may be linked to the largest corruption scandal in Brazil’s history.
President Rousseff met with Chief of Staff Jaques Wagner, Justice Minister, José Eduardo Cardozo and General Secretary, Ricardo Berzoini on Saturday and on Sunday, Defense Minister, Aldo Rebelo, along with Berzoini, was summoned to a meeting with Rousseff.
Last Wednesday, October 7th, the Federal Accounts Court (TCU) unanimously recommended the rejection of the Administration’s 2014 budget accounts, stating that the government manipulated its accounts by borrowing money from state-owned financial institutions and not registering it as expenditures. The TCU’s recommendation gives legal justification to critics of the administration to request impeachment proceedings.
A day earlier, the Superior Electoral Court (TSE) had decided to re-open an investigation requested by opposition party, PSDB, into the 2014 Presidential elections. The opposition party wants the dissolution of the mandates of Dilma Rousseff and her vice-president, Michel Temer. To add to Rousseff’s troubles, Congress was unable to vote whether to uphold the vetoes issued by the President on bills which would increase significantly public spending.
At the beginning of October, Rousseff conducted a re-shuffling of her cabinet ministers that analysts say had the objective of protecting the President from a possible impeachment. Rousseff ‘handed over’ most of the important ministries (health, mines and energy, agriculture, aviation) to allied party, PMDB, in the hopes that the largest party in Congress will be able to prevent impeachment proceedings from going forward.
Yet while the administration is having a tough month, Chamber Speaker also has troubles of his own. An investigation by Swiss authorities found that Cunha and his family have Swiss bank accounts that were never disclosed and may hold money linked to the Lava-Jato (Carwash) corruption scheme. The Lava Jato money-laundering scheme is said to have paid billions of dollars to executives and politicians for contracts with oil giant Petrobras.
Opposition leaders both in the Lower House and Senate have called for Cunha to step down. Even some members of his own PMDB party have expressed doubts as to whether or not the representative should continue to lead the Lower House. Cunha continues to deny any wrongdoing and denying he has bank accounts in foreign countries.