By Lise Alves, Senior Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Rio de Janeiro’s city council announced on Tuesday it was suspending its mid-year recess to analyze two impeachment processes against Mayor Marcelo Crivella. Crivella is accused of promising to use his clout to obtain advantages for Evangelical churches.
According to the two impeachment processes filed, Crivella is accused of administrative impropriety for having used the City Palace (government headquarters) for a meeting with evangelical leaders on July 4th, where he promised advantages to the religious groups.
“Today I filed for impeachment of Mayor Crivella, for the use of the city’s machinery to privilege his closest supporters,” said councilman Atila Nunes in a video posted on his social media account. “What is worse, using religious criteria (to do so). (There were) Promises of putting names on the top of the lists for surgeries,” added the lawmaker.
Elected in 2016 with the vast support of Evangelicals, Crivella, was caught in audio and video during a meeting at City Hall last week, offering religious leaders help in scheduling cataract, vasectomy and varicose veins surgeries through the public Unified Health System (SUS), for their congregations. The mayor also indicated the possibility of exempting evangelical temples of the payment the city’s Urban Land Tax (IPTU).
In a statement, the government of Rio denies the allegations. “The mayor of Rio, Marcelo Crivella, understands that filing a request for impeachment is part of the political game of the opposition. But he is sure [that] both the City Council and the Public Prosecutor will know how to separate what is reality from what is manipulation in this case,” read the statement.
According to the city’s communication department the meeting between Crivella and Evangelicals was aimed at disseminating public services provided by the city, and that there is no irregularity in the actions of the mayor.
Crivella supporters in City Hall also do not see basis for the impeachment processes.
“There is no reason for impeachment,” argues Dr. Jairinho, leader of the government’s coalition in the Council. “No one saw a serious motivation for this. We are going through such a difficult time in Brazil; the guy (Crivella) holds a meeting to try to help out, and for that he may be impeached? It is unreasonable,” concluded the councilman.
The voting on whether or not to start impeachment proceedings is expected to take place on Thursday (July 12th). Thirty-four council votes are needed to start the process. If accepted, impeachment proceedings must be completed within 90 days.