By Jay Forte, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Several days after Brazil’s Chamber of Deputies voted to authorize the advancement of impeachment proceedings against her, President Dilma Rousseff continued to take aim at her primary antagonists, the president of the Chamber of Deputies, Eduardo Cunha (PMDB-RJ), and her Vice President, Michel Temer (PMDB).
President Rousseff also made references to the mega corruption scandal, termed Operation Lava Jato (Carwash), and reinforcing that she has not been implicated in the investigation.
When referring to Eduardo Cunha, she pointed out that he should not be in a position to judge any process, as he himself is under investigation. According to the President, the process of impeachment against her is a retaliation by Cunha, since the PT voted for the process to get underway against him in the Ethics Committee of the House. “This process was initiated by a misuse of power, revenge, an explicit revenge.”
Rousseff also made reference to Michel Temer, saying it is “very unusual” that a vice-president has taken his actions. “The conspiracy is given by the fact that the only way to come to power in Brazil is using methods, turning and hiding the fact that this process of impeachment, is not actually an impeachment process, but is an attempt indirect election of a group that otherwise would not have access [to power] the only justifiable means.”
The president said she is the victim of a process of half truths when talking about impeachment and outright political dissent cannot be used as a basis for such a process. During the interview, she also defended the legality of the government’s financial operations that supported the impeachment.
The New York Times reported that Rousseff’s administration ‘borrowed’ approximately US$11 billion from state banks, an amount equal to almost one percent of the economy during her re-election year in 2014. The money is believed to mainly have been used to fund Bolsa Familia and Minha Casa, Minha Vida, which are the calling cards of the PT’s (Workers’ Party) thirteen years in power.
Yet experts seem divided over if the financial ‘cooking of the books’ is an impeachable offense. Carlos Pereira, a political scientist at Fundação Getúlio Vargas told The New York Times, “The government lied about the messy state of their house by putting up a pretty window, […] The government betrayed the people, and for this they must be punished.”
Oscar Vilhena Vieira, a professor of constitutional law at Fundação Getúlio Vargas, pointed out that the law required that Congress approve changes to the annual budget, and prohibited the president from borrowing money from state-owned banks. “The nature of these crimes are administrative crimes,” he said. “They are not penal crimes, so you cannot be put in prison because of them, but you can lose your mandate.”
Meanwhile, President Rousseff spoke about Operation Lava Jato (Carwash) when asked if she knew there was corruption in the party and Petrobras. Rousseff responded that is typical of corruption “be done in the dark, be hidden.” Adding “It was revealed and released in the light now, by my government and of President Lula [former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva], because all legislation that allows such research was done on my government or in it.”
Both ex-President Lula and Eduardo Cunha are being investigated in two different inquiries of the Lava Jato corruption scandal. While a witness said Cunha had received a US$5 million bribe for a Petrobras contract to go through, Lula is being investigated for influence peddling in contracts for Odebrecht in Cuba and the Dominican Republic.