Brazil's Senate Votes To Impeach President Dilma Rousseff

Aug 31, 2016
Originally published on August 31, 2016 5:31 pm
Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

Today, a dramatic scene in the Brazilian capital of Brasilia.

(SOUNDBITE OF BRAZILIAN SENATE ANNOUNCEMENT)

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: (Speaking Brazilian Portuguese).

SHAPIRO: Senators chose to impeach the country's president, Dilma Rousseff, by a vote of 61 to 20.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: (Speaking Brazilian Portuguese).

SHAPIRO: After the announcement, senators joined together singing the national anthem.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "HINO NACIONAL BRASILEIRO")

UNIDENTIFIED PEOPLE: (Singing in Brazilian Portuguese).

SHAPIRO: Joining us from the senate now is NPR's Lulu Garcia-Navarro. And, Lulu, what does this historic vote mean for Brazil?

LULU GARCIA-NAVARRO, BYLINE: Well, it's a very important moment, as you can imagine. It's an enormous defeat for Dilma Rousseff and her leftist Workers' Party. And while it moves Brazil out of the immediate political crisis that it's been facing for many months now with the new president, Michel Temer, at the helm, it hardly, Ari, heals the wounds of this divisive process.

You know, many people will be deeply upset by this. Also, let's not forget Brazil is still in the midst of a huge financial crisis - 11 percent unemployment. And there's a massive corruption investigation still underway that has implicated many, including the new president, Michel Temer. So certainly the end of one era, but not an easy path forward for Brazil.

SHAPIRO: Rousseff has maintained her innocence from the beginning. Remind us how we got here.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Yeah. As with everything, it depends who you speak to. Supporters of Dilma Rousseff see this as a coup. I was speaking to the head of the Union for Domestic Workers yesterday. And she said under Rouseff's tenure, rights and protections for domestic workers and other vulnerable people expanded, so she's a huge supporter.

But let's not forget this is not only the end of Rousseff's era, but it's the end of 13 years of leftist rule in Latin America's largest economy. And that will have profound implications for the country and the region. Michel Temer, the new president, is right of center. So is his cabinet. On the other side, those who support Michel Temer say that she sank the economy. She's a financial dinosaur, as one analyst told me, who couldn't change her ways when ill economic winds began blowing.

SHAPIRO: How are ordinary Brazilians reacting to all of this?

GARCIA-NAVARRO: There really haven't been protests. Not a lot of people out on the streets after the vote was taken. I think people are exhausted by this drama, but we have to remember that this impeachment was driven by the largest protests in Brazil's history. And after the announcement, there were fireworks in some city neighborhoods across the country celebrating Rousseff's removal. Some people will definitely see this as a fresh start. Dilma Rousseff herself spoke after the vote. She called the new government that has taken over racist, misogynistic and homophobic, and she predicted fierce opposition to its policies.

SHAPIRO: Well, what do you expect we will see from the Brazilian government in the way of new policies?

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Well, certainly, Temer is right of center, but he is hugely unpopular. Many see him as illegitimate, as tainted, so he is not going to have an easy ride. He will be in power for the next two years, seeing out the rest of Dilma Rousseff's term, but he will face a lot of opposition. People are very divided here on the direction in which the country should go.

SHAPIRO: That's NPR's Lulu Garcia-Navarro in Brasilia on the historic impeachment vote ousting Dilma Rousseff. Thank you, Lulu.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: You're welcome. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.