BRASILIA, Brazil — Beleaguered Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff has changed her plans and will attend a U.N. event on Friday in New York to make her case against an impeachment process that could remove her from office within weeks, her office said on Wednesday.
Rousseff lost a crucial vote in the lower house of Congress on Sunday and faces impeachment by the Senate on charges of breaking budget laws. She maintains the charges are groundless and trumped up to illegally oust her and end 13 years of rule by her leftist Workers Party.
With the prospect of the Senate suspending her in three weeks, Rousseff had canceled her trip to attend the signing of the Paris Agreement on climate change on Friday, so that she could focus on her political survival.
“She intends to go tomorrow to New York,” an aide said in a WhatsApp message.
Two presidential aides said Rousseff would use her visit to New York to defend herself in interviews with international media against an impeachment that she has called a “coup d’etat without weapons” against a legitimate democratic government.
Rousseff says the accounting manipulation her administration used, by putting off transfer of funds to state banks, was a practice employed by previous governments. Her opponents say this allowed her to unfairly expand public spending and boost her re-election campaign in 2014.
Her government’s legal appeals asserting she committed no impeachable crime have been rejected by the Supreme Court.
The crisis has paralyzed Brazil’s government as it struggles to revive the economy from its worst recession in decades in the midst of a massive corruption scandal involving state-run oil firm Petrobras. It is also scrambling to host the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro in August.
In a news conference on Tuesday with foreign journalists, Rousseff said the impeachment was supported by lower chamber Speaker Eduardo Cunha, who has been charged with corruption and money laundering, out of revenge because her government had not shielded him from ethics committee hearings.
She also accused Vice President Michel Temer of plotting against her. Temer will replace Rousseff if she is unseated. Ironically, during her trip to New York, Temer would temporarily assume the presidency.
Her opponents have also gone to the United States to defend the legality of the impeachments. Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman Aloysio Nunes, of the opposition PSDB party, was in Washington this week to explain to U.S. government officials that the process is constitutional.
Nunes met his counterpart, Republican U.S. Senator Bob Corker, chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, on Tuesday and was due to meet with the State Department’s Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, Tom Shannon, on Wednesday.