Wednesday, May 11, 2016

 

Brazil:Rousseff allies,foes wrestle in prelude to Senate vote

Dramatic changes take turns to take place less than a day before the Senate votes Wednesday on the impeachment of Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff.

In a last-minute move to halt the Senate vote, Brazil's Attorney General Jose Eduardo Cardozo filed on Tuesday an injunction trying to cancel the impeachment process.

Under the Brazilian law, such an injunction must be analyzed by one of the 11 Supreme Court judges, randomly appointed in order to avoid bias.

In this case, the judge to analyze the injunction will be Teori Zavascki, who, last week, ruled that House speaker Eduardo Cunha should be suspended from office for trying to coerce other congressmen and hinder investigations against him.

Zavascki's office said he will analyze the case overnight and announce his decision on Wednesday.

In the injunction, Cardozo argues that there are vices in the process.

In the very beginning of the case, Cunha had repeatedly said that the impeachment requests filed in the House lacked legal basis, until the ruling Workers' Party declined to support him over a corruption case in the House Ethics Committee. Then he suddenly changed his mind and turned for an immediate impeachment process.

Cardozo said that Cunha clearly started the impeachment process in a vendetta after his attempt to blackmail the government failed.

The move by Cardozo followed twists and turns in the lower house of congress, where interim House Speaker Waldir Maranhao first decided to cancel the House's Yes vote for impeachment and soon overturned the cancellation.

Rousseff's supporters took to the streets on Tuesday to protest the impeachment process against her, blocking roads and public transport systems in at least 13 states and the Federal District.

The protests were organized by the Brazil People's Front, which is made up of 60 social organizations.

The organizers said the impeachment process represents a "coup d'etat against Brazil and the Brazilian people, as well as a lack of respect for the citizen's vote."

The president of Brazil's Unified Workers' Central, Vagner Freitas, said that the impeachment is aimed at bringing in a new government headed by Vice President Michel Temer to remove historic rights from workers.

If the motion is approved, Rousseff will be temporarily removed from office for up to 180 days, leaving Vice President Temer to take over as interim president during her trial.

The case has become a regional issue, as Organization of American States (OAS) Secretary General Luis Almagro announced on Tuesday that he will have a legal consultation with the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACHR) on the impeachment process.

Almagro met on Tuesday with Rousseff in the Planalto Palace in Brasilia, the official workplace of the Brazilian president, to express his rejection of the impeachment.

"Due to our responsibility, provided for in article 20 of the Democratic Charter, we should have a legal consultation with the Inter-American Court of Human Rights to protect and observe human rights in the case, especially civic and political rights that are essential to the working of democracy," said Almagro.

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