Brazilian president at risk of impeachment

By Rohan Ahluwalia
Staff Writer

The fate of Brazil’s president, Dilma Rousseff, is becoming bleaker as the days pass.

On Wednesday, April 6, special investigator Jovair Arantes pushed forward the notion that Rousseff, who has been the president since 2011, should be impeached after evidence emerged that she violated fiscal laws, BBC News reported.

In his nearly 130-page report, Arantes said, “there is serious evidence of illegal conduct of the president. This shows serious enough to authorize the installation of an impeachment process.”

Rousseff, who was appointed to a second term as Brazilian president in October 2014, is accused of exploiting and influencing budget accounts in order to increase spending during her campaign and shore up votes. Since allegations were revealed, she has denied any wrongdoing and has called the impeachment effort a coup, according to BBC News.

“Impeachment without proof of a crime is what? It is a coup,” Rousseff said late last month, CNN reported.

Along with the accusation of manipulation of funds since the start of her second term, Rousseff’s presidency has been marred by many serious allegations, which have seen her approval ratings among the Brazilian population fall to just above 10 percent, according to CNN.

In early 2015, protests broke out all around Brazil over Rousseff’s alleged involvement in the Petrobras scandal, which included corruption and bribes against the state oil company. The protesters called for Rousseff’s impeachment, since she was the chairwoman of Petrobras at the time of the alleged corruption. However, according to CNN, Rousseff denied her involvement in the scandal.

Rousseff was also questioned over her decision to appoint former Brazilian president, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, as her chief of staff. The appointment of Lula, who was questioned by investigators a few days before the appointment in a corruption investigation, lead many to believe that Rousseff appointed Lula to shield him from prosecution, CNN reported.

Along with allegations of corruption and cronyism, Rousseff has also been battling the outbreak of the Zika virus and an unready Olympic Games, which, despite being scheduled for this August, still has facilities under construction.

Despite any evidence against her, Rousseff has struggled to maintain leadership and power in Brazil. According to the Wall Street Journal, Brazil’s largest political party, the Brazil Democratic Movement Party, voted to split its association with the government last month. The split from the Brazil Democratic Movement Party meant that Rousseff had to pander to smaller parties in order to gain support and vote against impeachment. The 65-member congressional committee is scheduled to decide on Monday, April 9, whether to continue the impeachment process. The Chamber of Deputies, also known as Brazil’s lower house, will then have a final vote around Tuesday, April 17. According to the Wall Street Journal, if two-thirds of the 513-member house votes in favor of impeachment, the proceedings will move forward with a trial in the Senate.