By Martha Anyanwu
Brazil’s first female president, Dilma Rousseff has been suspended. This came by a 55 – 22 vote loss in the Upper House of the National Congress of Brazil on the 12th of May. The Chamber of Deputies (lower house) had pushed for impeachment proceedings to commence by a 367 vote against her 137 supporters. This exceeded the 342 vote requirement to advance any motion to the Senate.
The 68 year old leader of the world’s seventh largest economy suffered this defeat after declining popularity following series of corruption allegations. Rousseff’s fate would be decided after her trial which may take up to 180 days. She has however, been stripped of her executive powers and vacated the Pálacio do Planalto. Her Vice President, Michel Temer who was recently fined for violating campaign financing limits, has assumed office as Acting President, swearing in his cabinet the same day of her suspension.
Rousseff, who was elected into office for a second term with the Workers’ Party ticket in October 2014, came under public scrutiny after allegations of her involvement in the Petrobras corruption scandal. Despite the fact that no record has surfaced of her involvement, more than a million protesters took to the streets and called for her ouster.
Petróleo Brasileiro (Brazil’s NNPC equivalent) commonly known as Petrobras, is one of the world’s largest oil companies. Rousseff served as a board member from 2003 to 2010, the period in which the biggest corruption in Brazil’s history was committed. The oil giant’s executives had collaborated with contractors for Petrobras’ projects and inflated costs thereby enriching themselves with hundreds of millions of dollars. These directors also secretly diverted funds valued at up to 3 per cent of all contracts to politicians (notably members of the Workers’ Party who appointed them). In all, these bribes cost the company nearly $3 billion. The money laundering investigation has been daubed “Operation Car Wash”.
Leaving her involvement to speculation until proven, Rousseff’s impeachment trial is actually based on manipulation of government accounts to disguise budget deficits. These secret fiscal maneuvres hid the true state of the economy and allegedly helped her win the 2014 elections.
As it seems, Dilma Rousseff would also miss her role in the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympic games which she worked hard for. The games begin on August 5th.