The Aug. 5-21 Summer Games were a welcome distraction for many Brazilians angry over endemic corruption and an emerging economy that has gone from analysts' darling to severe recession amid its worst financial crisis in decades
FILE - In this May 13, 2016 file photo, a woman holds a sign that reads in Portuguese; "Never Temer!" to protest the government of acting President Michel Temer in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Just days after the Rio Olympics ended, Brazilian senators are now gearing up for a final decision on whether to permanently remove President Dilma Rousseff from office. (AP Photo/Silvia Izquierdo), photo: AP/Silvia Izquierdo
24 of August 2016 18:21:39
RIO DE JANEIRO — The last medals have been handed out, the athletes have all gone home and the fireworks at Rio de Janeiro's Maracana stadium are fading into memory. Now Brazil's real drama begins.
A letter signed by 22 international artists and intellectuals was published Wednesday voicing support for Rousseff. Among them were actor Danny Glover, film director Oliver Stone, linguist Noam Chomsky, fashion designer Vivienne Westwood, actor Viggo Mortensen and composer Brian Eno."The legal basis for the ongoing impeachment is widely contested and there is compelling evidence showing that key promoters of the impeachment campaign are seeking to remove the president to stop the corruption investigations that they themselves are implicated in," the letter said.But much of the alleged graft happened over the 13 years that Rousseff's left-leaning Workers' Party has been in power. Several businessmen and top politicians have been jailed, including some connected to Rousseff's government, and a number of opposition officials are also in investigators' sights.The probe has blown the lid off a political culture of corruption that spans the ideological spectrum: About 60 percent of lawmakers in the Senate and lower house are being investigated for various crimes, many related to graft and the Petrobras scandal.Rousseff has never been personally implicated, but her detractors say she must have known what was happening and bears responsibility. She refused to block the investigations even as she paid a steep political price through her impeachment, saying it is a process that Brazil badly needs to go through.The interim government that stepped in for her has also been stung, with three Cabinet ministers forced to resign right after taking office due to corruption allegations. Acting President Michel Temer, who was Rousseff's vice president and is known as a behind-the-scenes dealmaker, has been fingered for alleged bribery by witnesses who have reached plea deals in the Petrobras case, although he has not been charged with any crime.The result has been widespread popular disgust and anger at both Rousseff and Temer: A national poll by Datafolha last month found that 62 percent of respondents favored holding new elections rather than keeping either one as president.Rousseff has promised to hold a referendum on whether to call new elections if she survives the Senate trial. But for that to happen, both she and Temer would have to resign or be removed.Temer, a 75-year-old career politician from the centrist Brazilian Democratic Movement Party, has shown no indication he would step down. He casts himself as a reluctant savior who just wants to do what's best for a divided country, and denies Rousseff's accusations that he's the ringleader in the push to oust her.If Rousseff is permanently removed, Temer would serve out the remainder of her term through 2018."Michel wants to remain president, but he can't show himself to be trying to do that," Brasilia-based political consultant Alexandre Barros said. "It's a complicated equation for everybody."In any case, Rousseff's odds of surviving the Senate trial appear slim.In May, 55 of the body's 81 senators voted to impeach and suspend her — one more than the 54 it would take to kick her out for good. Since then Rousseff has embarked on a campaign to change their minds, hunkering down with supportive senators, tweeting regularly against the "coup," holding rallies around the country and meeting with Brazilian and international media.Earlier this month, 59 senators voted to move forward with the trial.
PETER PRENGAMANMAURICIO SAVARESE