Not a coup

Dilma Rousseff is facing impeachment in Brazil. Why? Well, that’s actually rather complicated. To start, it has a lot to do with the fact that she’s supposed to be a leftist, but her government hasn’t helped the poor as promised.

Not only has she presided over a faltering economy (not her fault), but the country is facing an Olympics that’s shaping up to be a huge mess (and has already been very messy and very classist), there’s Zika to contend with, and on top of all that, the machine of corruption and graft that is Petrobras was opened up and exposed.

Even worse was her reaction to the economic problems. From a BBC article:

Ms Rousseff won the election by promising to keep the stimulus in place and criticised opponents who said an adjustment – such as higher taxes and budget cuts – was needed. But once re-elected, she single-handedly opted for an aggressive fiscal adjustment, angering those who voted for the opposition and leaving her own supporters feeling betrayed.

That, however, was not criminal. Stupid, yes, but not impeachment-worthy. As is often the case, it’s not the original deed that gets the politician in trouble, it’s when they try to cover their tracks. In her case, the original deed was merely a mishandling of economic issues. Covering it up, on the other hand…

From the same BBC article:

Brazilian governments are required to meet budget surplus targets set in Congress. Ms Rousseff is accused of allowing creative accounting techniques involving loans from public banks to the treasury that artificially enhanced the budget surplus. This gave the appearance that government accounts were in better shape than they actually were. The surplus is one of the measures taken into account by investors of how sound an economy is.

And that is why she’s facing impeachment. Not because of Petrobras or the Rio Olympics or the economy or anything, but because of deceptive accounting. Now, the real reason I wanted to talk about this was her reaction to it.

She denies that this accounting scheme was wrong. She says she did nothing wrong. As if it’s supposed to be an excuse, she basically said, everybody was doing it. They’re common practice, she claims. Perhaps this is true. Regardless, that doesn’t make them legal.

So here we have a politician who has done something wrong. Her opponents in congress want to impeach her, so they’ve started the process.

Rousseff has repeatedly called the impeachment process a coup. Let us be clear- this is not a coup. There is a process in place. Impeachment is a legit function of government. Is it ugly? Sure. Is it illegal? No. No it is not.

Here’s a line from a different BBC article:

If she is impeached, Vice-President Michel Temer would take over as interim president. Ms Rousseff has accused him of being one of the ringleaders of the “coup” attempt against her.

In an interview to the New York Times, Mr Temer said: “I’m very worried about the president’s intention to say that Brazil is some minor republic where coups are carried out.”

So that’s all very unfortunate. Let’s continue on and take a detour to Venezuela. As you may know, for many years, Hugo Chavez was the popularly elected leader of Venezuela. He functioned as a dictator in many respects, yet it was all through a public mandate. He nationalized a whole lot of industries and basically made Venezuela a petrostate. Before, they actually had quite a few industries, but by the time he died, they sold oil and not much else.

When Chavez died, his handpicked successor was Nicolas Maduro. Now, Maduro was/still is a hardcore Chavista. He will never, ever change the policies of Venezuela. Unfortunately for them, oil is worth way, way less. Their currency is in free fall, yet the price controls artificially inflate the face value of the money, which fucks everything up even more. They can’t keep stores stocked with basic necessities. Everybody is suffering.

In the last election, the Chavistas were crushed. Like, they went from having a decent majority to the opposition party having a substantial majority. Before they went, however, they packed the judiciary (shady but legal). While they still control a lot of the government apparatus, they have zero mandate to govern. At this point, they’re simply trying to hold on.

Here’s a bit from a New York Times article:

Venezuela’s electoral commission on Tuesday released documents that would allow opposition politicians to collect signatures and formally begin a process aimed at removing President Nicolás Maduro from office.

The decision by the commission — which is controlled by Mr. Maduro’s Socialist government and previously resisted handing over the papers — lifted hopes of the opposition politicians, who control the National Assembly and have vowed to oust the president by the end of the year.

And what is the reaction of Maduro?

This is a coup! A terrible coup. Even though the recall process is legally enshrined. Even though this is a process that is clearly described and clearly being followed. Yet he still claims it’s a coup.

Are you noticing a bit of a pattern here? It’s insulting. It’s disgusting. This is a level of disingenuous that borders on criminal, in my opinion. This is their attempt to hijack a legit political process.

I’m not saying impeachment or a recall would be a good thing. I wouldn’t know. But I do know they aren’t illegal. These are not coups. Saying otherwise is a deplorable attempt to tear their own country apart just to stay in power.

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