By: Ariel Abonizio
For the past two years, Brazil has been in a unique political time. After a tight presidential election in 2014, the country seemed to be divided between two presidential candidates, two political parties, and perhaps two opposing ideologies. Since the President Dilma Rousseff won the elections with 51.64% of the votes, the dichotomization between left-wing and right-wing parties has been accentuated, which ultimately caused the extensive media coverage of the corruption and political scandals in the country. Oftentimes newspapers will present a consistent, but unilateral argument of the facts surrounding the impeachment process of the President Dilma Rousseff, currently in progress.
Led by conservative, right-wing politicians, a significant portion of the Brazilian population defends impeachment, which would be validated by the President’s use of accounting tricks to contain inflation before the elections, making her electorate believe that the economy was better than it actually was. Moreover, the Workers Party (PT), of which Dilma is part of, has had a historic involvement with corruption, which might have increased the tension and pressure over the President. On February 2016, the situation increased in complexity with the attempted nomination of Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva as Minister of the Civil House. Lula, who held the presidential office between 2002 and 2010, was (and still is) under the Supreme Court of Justice (STF) investigation for corruption. The Former President was meant to be under preventive custody according to the STF, decision obstructed by the President’s nomination of Lula as Minister, which granted Lula legal protection and benefits. To some, this was the confirmation needed to justify a legal impeachment of Dilma Rousseff for hampering justice and manipulating public funds to benefit her own political party.
While some would defend the impeachment without further consideration, others attest that the situation in Brazil is resembles the Military Coup D’état of 1964. To this group, the argument that the use of accounting tricks by the President proves itself invalid. Political scientists gathered data saying that 16 of the 26 Brazilian Governors also used such tricks, back-paddling in special, during their time in office. Moreover, some defend that the Former President’s order of custody was wrongfully given, since he had not yet been convicted of any crimes. Considering that the case, Dilma Rousseff granted him protection under the umbrella of what she, as leader of the executive power, considered just and proper.
(Brazilian Military Coup D’état of 1964)
The situations above are nothing but a simplified slice of the political circumstance that surrounds Brazil at the moment. Even for Brazilians, the striking complexity of matters makes it hard to access what is to be considered right or wrong. What should not pass unnoticed is the crescent division of the country’s opinion. Is Dilma the villain or the martyr who went against public opinion for what she considered right? Answering is not that simple when political dispute blurs rationality. There were reported aggressions against people that were dressed in red (historically associated with communism and with the Workers Party). As ridiculous as it may seem, in Brasília, there was a reported assault on a dog that wore red clothes near an anti-government flash mob. It is not clear if the aggression is factual or invented to promote quarrel. On the other side, the leader of the Free Brazil Movement (MBL), Leandro Balcone, was assassinated possibly for political reasons. He was responsible for many of the political movement surrounding the pro-impeachment scenario in Guarulhos, São Paulo. As it is imaginable, pro and anti-government news sources portrayed the facts above in very different manners.
Fundamentally, behind every piece of news, there is bias. Leandro Balcone, who was a lawyer, might have been assassinated for non-political reasons. And perhaps, the dog aggression news was posted by people that support the Workers Party in order to intensify the political dispute. Even the news regarding important political characters such as the President are volatile, varying according to the biases of the source. Both anti and pro-government news sources promote the creation of martyrs and villains. Moreover, regarding numerical data such as approval, there are multiple governmental and private organizations that provide a broad range of data to support journalists. Integrity and impartiality have been losing ground on Brazilian journalism, which contributes to the seemingly chaotic, complex, and polarized scenario in Brazil during these first months of 2016.
(Pro-Workers Party Demonstrators)
Currently, the process for the impeachment of the president has received approval in the National Congress. When she is deposed, the Vice President Michel Temer, from the Brazilian Democratic Movement Party will assume as president until 2018, when hopefully, new elections will be held. Some fear that, in case Dilma Rousseff is impeached, Michel Temer will be impeached in the following months, which would leave the Presidency for the current President of the Chamber of Deputies Eduardo Cunha, also from the Brazilian Democratic Movement Party. It is worth noting that Cunha is also being investigated by corruption. While a double-impeachment might seem unlikely, Eduardo Cunha has been one of the main sources of critique against Dilma Rousseff, and some believe that he seeks the Office for himself rather than for the benefit of his party. Either possibility is equally fascinating.
While the investigations on corruption progress, the current economic scenario points towards inflation between 9 and 10% with a significant economic retraction. One third of the members of the National Congress are under ongoing investigation. Regardless of one’s political leaning, the current political situation does not leave much room for interpretation: the next two years will be crucial for Brazil’s positioning economically and politically around the globe.