Brazil Senate sends suspended President Dilma to trial

Cheryl Sanders
August 11, 2016

If she is found guilty she will be permanently removed from office and the tenure of the man who replaced her, Michel Temer, will be confirmed.

At that time, the Senate voted 55-22 to move forward with the process, meaning the impeachment movement is gaining support and now has the super-majority of votes needed (at least 54) to impeach her.

The main accusation of the opposition is that Rousseff committed the abuse of responsibility when she made what is called "fiscal maneuvers", that is to say, she delayed the transfers of resources to pay federal expenses to public banks.

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After a 16-hour session in which Supreme Court President Ricardo Lewandowski served as guarantor of the proceedings, the Senate voted 59-21 in favor of the report prepared by the rapporteur of a Senate impeachment committee.

"In three months the Temer government already demonstrated that actually what was done in this country was a blow to the working people and democracy that took the presidency, a president elected with 54 million votes, and that is why we are on the streets today", said another.

The more conservative Mr Temer, who was Ms Rousseff's vice president, has been in charge of Brazil since her original suspension in May.

The vote in the upper house of the national Congress in Brasilia cast a bright and unwelcome spotlight on the country's political turmoil at the very time that it is trying to put on its best face for the Summer Olympics under way in Rio de Janeiro. It also looked like game over for Rousseff who lost crucial ground instead of winning over more senators. Brazil is now facing its worst economic recession since the 1930s, and Rousseff's critics point to the president's creative math as a deliberate attempt to make the economy appear solid when it was really about to go into a tailspin.

Rousseff says that several of her successors in the presidency did the same, without legal consequences.

Rousseff has denied any wrongdoing and her defenders argued that right-wing legislators were using an accounting error to end 13 years of rule by Rousseff's Worker's Party.

Odebrecht, the scion of the family that controls the company, formally known as Odebrecht SA, was sentenced to 19 years in prison after being convicted of corruption and money laundering in the Petrobras corruption case in March. Rousseff, who has remained in the presidential palace, has also floated the possibility of calling new elections.

If Rousseff is dismissed from office, her term that expires January 1, 2019, will be completed by Temer. In several interviews, she has said she would be open to a plebiscite.

Rousseff's fate will be decided with a verdict expected by the end of August.

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