Brazil: The front against impeachment gives the government breathing space

In the end, in spite of the all-out campaign of the mainstream press, the word "coup" prevailed.

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The week began with a defeat for the government, on March 29, when the PMDB announced they were leaving the governmental coalition; but it ended with a set of events that warn the opposition that the game is not over.


The demonstrations of March 31 in 22 cities of Brazil were the biggest that have occurred to date in defence of democracy and in support of President Dilma Rousseff, and provided a wider representation for the political front against impeachment, beyond the PT [governing Worker’s Party] and the labour unions. The presence and the speech of Chico Buarque in the concentration in Rio presented the greatest symbolism of this character.


If the popular clamor for impeachment set off the impeachment process in the Chamber of Deputies, the demonstrations of March 31 against the destitution of the President will also be heard by the parties, in the crucial week in which Dilma and ex President Lula da Silva seek to advance in the alliances to rebuild the governmental coalition to block the process in the plenary of the Chamber. The fact that there are masses protesting against impeachment makes it easier to take a stand, for those Deputies who alleged that it would be impossible to support a government "with the people against it".


It is clear that not all of the people are in the streets defending Dilma. At this time, Lula and other PT promoters are talking with the PP, PSD, PR and minor parties, a nucleus with parliamentary presence where they might find the 100 votes essential to win the match with a minimum of security. If the opposition needs to gain 342 votes in the plenary, the government can establish its dyke with contrary votes, abstentions and absences. Lula is talking even with members of the PSB, an old ally that moved to the opposition.


The week also ended with another victory for Lula: the decision of the Supreme Federal Tribunal to maintain within the competency of the supreme court the investigations against him launched by judge Sergio Moro, in the first instance. The injunction that still weighs against his possession as a minister has not yet been examined, but now the ex president will not be hindered by an order of preventative detention from Moro, while he promotes the salvation of the government. The judge, in addition, was questioned by the magistrates for the illegal divulgation of audios of conversations between Lula and the President.


Lula was to take part in the rally in Brazilia, but he wisely stayed away so that it would not appear as a provocation of the STF, that was to decide on the question of his immunity that afternoon. He therefore recorded a video in which he limited himself to requesting unity in defence of democracy and legality.


In previous days, Dilma scored in her favour significant expressions against impeachment, from both the top and the bottom of the pyramid of Brazilian society. A Magistrate of the Supreme Federal Tribunal, Marco Aurelio Mello, supported her position that "without a crime of responsibility, (the impeachment) is a coup". Wednesday, during the launch of the third phase of the programme "Mi casa, mi vida" [my house, my life], ordinary people from the countryside and the city, from the movement for housing, together with Guilherme Boulos of the Movement of Homeless Workers (MTST), shouted "there will be no coup" in the Planalto [presidential] Palace. And on Thursday (31) intellectuals and artists released manifestos against impeachment, including Beth Carvalho, Leticia Sabatella, Aderbal Freire-Filho, Ana Muylaert, Sergio Mamberti, Ana Maria Magalhães and many others. Wagner Moura (protagonist of the Tropa de Elite and Narcos) published a strong statement against impeachment.  Professors and students protested in the main universities of Río de Janeiro and São Paulo (USP, UFRJ and others). Lawyers questioned that the Order of Lawyers of Brazil was to introduce a new petition of impeachment.  Jurists continued to affirm that Dilma has incurred in no crime of responsibility.  In Lisbon, the seminary promoted by Gilmar Mendes and leaders of the opposition was the object of protests by Brazilians. In the adversary field, there was no report of important demonstrations.


In the end, in spite of the all-out campaign of the mainstream press, the word "coup" prevailed. The idea that a request for impeachment based on accounting manoeuvres was an attempting to provide a legal basis for a coup against Dilma, contrary to the popular will, gained force during the week and led to larger demonstrations than those of March 18.


But will this change the votes in the Chamber? No one can give a simple answer, since no one knows for certain how many votes there are in favour or against impeachment.  But it is clear that the climate has improved for the government.


When he had to face an impeachment against him, Fernando Collor (1990-1992) pronounced the phrase "don't leave me alone" and what happened was a great protest of people clad in black, rather than the yellow and green [colors of Brazil] that he had requested. The demonstrations of March 31 said that Dilma is not alone. This may not make a big difference for the opposition that is in charge of the process, together with Eduardo Cunha [president of the Chamber] and now with vice-president Michel Temer. But it does make a difference for those parties of the governing alliance who were tempted by the herd effect.


(Translated from the ALAI’s Spanish version by Jordan Bishop)


Original source: Brasil 247

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