Thursday, September 1, 2016 at 6:49 AM

Chauvinistic Impeachment of Brazil’s First Female President, Dilma Rousseff

Posted by Anthony L. Hall

American news organizations provided so much coverage of Donald Trump’s traveling circus to Mexico today, you’d be forgiven for thinking it was the most important geopolitical event of the century. But, trust me, within 24 hours his trip will be relegated to the dustbin of viral stunts.

brazil-s-suspendedMeanwhile, they provided scant coverage of an event that was truly worthy of Trumpian coverage, namely, the impeachment of Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff. 

Thank God for the BBC. It provided full coverage of Rousseff’s Socratic testimony and her accusers’ kangaroo cross-examination … LIVE.

I’ve been using this weblog to champion the prospect of many more women serving as heads of state for over a decade. Here, for a little perspective, is an excerpt from “Cracking the Political Glass Ceiling: First Woman to Become President in South America,” December 12, 2005.

__________________

After yesterday’s national elections, Michelle Bachelet [of Chile] is poised to become the first female head of state in South America. And, in light of the recent trend set by Angela Merkel of Germany and Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf of Liberia, Bachelet’s election will hearten those of us who welcome the seepage of ‘woman power’ through the crevices of governance (in politics and business) around the world.

Alas, male chauvinism still predominates throughout the Americas, and nowhere more so than in the United States. Indeed, Bachelet herself indicated that it might take some time before this seepage develops into a wave of global enlightenment…

Nevertheless, here’s to ‘the fairer sex’ – not only as indispensable guardians of home and hearth, but also as invaluable (and capable) stewards of the ship of state!

__________________

Given that, you’ll appreciate why I’m so dismayed by this:

Brazil’s Senate has voted to remove President Dilma Rousseff from office for manipulating the budget…

Sixty-one senators voted in favour of her impeachment and 20 against, meeting the two-thirds majority needed to remove her from the presidency.

Ms Rousseff did win one battle on Wednesday – a Senate vote on banning her from public office for eight years failed to pass, meaning she could in theory return to politics.

(BBC, August 31, 2016)

I’ve read a fair amount about the issues that led to this impeachment. But I see no point in commenting on them.

BRAZIL-POLITICS-IMPEACHSuffice it to know that nothing damns Brazil as a Banana Republic quite like its Congress voting to impeach Rousseff, but then voting to allow her to run for president again in 2018. Really, can you imagine the ridicule and recrimination if the U.S. Congress voted to impeach Richard Nixon in 1974, but then voted to allow him to run for president again in 1976?

Except that this makes perfect sense if one factors in the guilty consciences of those who voted to impeach her.

Frankly, the hypocrisy could not be lost on her virtually all-male jury. After all, they were sitting in judgment of the country’s first female president for allegedly cooking the books to make her policies look good. This, while many of them are facing so many criminal and corruption charges, they make the members of P.J. O’Rourke’s Parliament of Whores look like a cathedral of choir boys.

Paulo Maluf, a Brazilian congressman, is so badly besieged by his own graft scandals that his constituents often describe him with the slogan ‘Rouba mas faz.’ Translation: He steals but gets it done.

But like an array of other scandal-plagued members of Brazil’s Congress, Mr. Maluf says he is so fed up with all the corruption in the country that he supports ousting President Dilma Rousseff.

‘I’m against all the dubious horse-trading this government does,’ said Mr. Maluf, 84, a former São Paulo mayor who faces charges in the United States that he stole more than $11.6 million in a kickback scheme.

(New York Times, April 14, 2016)

It’s hardly surprising then that Brazilians have taken to the streets to protest this impeachment. What’s more, I have no doubt they will redeem Rousseff by re-electing her after this embarrassing and shameful interregnum – triggered by a parliamentary coup.

Screen Shot 2016-08-31 at 5.57.44 PM

Related commentaries:
Cracking glass ceiling

* This commentary was originally published yesterday, Wednesday, at  6:19 p.m.

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