Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Brazil Nuts

OK, things just got seriously complicated in the ongoing impeachment trial of Brazilian President Dilma Rouseff, as the new acting Speaker of Brazil's House has suddenly trashed last month's impeachment vote as invalid.

The acting speaker of the lower house of Brazil's Congress annulled the impeachment process against President Dilma Rousseff on Monday and called for a new vote in the chamber. 
Waldir Maranhao, who took over as acting speaker last week, said there were procedural flaws in the April 17 vote in the chamber that accepted impeachment charges against Rousseff. 
After last month's lower house vote, the impeachment process was passed to the Senate, where a Senate committee recommended on Friday that the leftist president be put on trial by the full chamber for breaking budget laws. 
In a news release, Maranhao said the impeachment process should be returned by the Senate so that the lower house can vote again. 
It remained unclear whether his decision could be overruled by the Supreme Court, the Senate or a majority in the house. 
Brazilian markets fell sharply after the surprising decision was announced. 
Rousseff, who denies wrongdoing, has been fighting for her political survival for several months as opposition congressmen push aggressively for her ouster.

The full Senate had been expected to vote to put Rousseff on trial on Wednesday, which would immediately suspend her for the duration of a trial that could last six months. During that period, Vice President Michel Temer would replace her as acting president.

Umm...so...this is kinda looking like a "major constitutional crisis" brewing here, or am I overreacting here to what would be another vote that would still end up with impeachment and a Senate trial?

But that was yesterday.  Today is a different story.

The drive to oust President Dilma Rousseff is back on track after the head of the lower house reversed a decision that had earlier threatened to throw the entire impeachment process into chaos. 
Lawmaker Waldir Maranhao released a statement in the dead of night revoking his own call to annul impeachment sessions in the lower house. That puts the Senate back in the spotlight, with a vote on whether to put the unpopular president on trial still slated for Wednesday. If successful, it would temporarily remove her from office. Rousseff is charged with illegally using state banks to plug a hole in the budget. 
Yesterday’s wrangling jolted investors and underscored the intensity of a power struggle that is sure to heat up even further in coming days. Since proceedings began in Congress late last year, legislators have engaged in shoving matches over procedural debates and Rousseff has accused her vice president of plotting a coup against her. The Supreme Court has also been forced to step in on several occasions to clarify legal questions and further involvement by the highest court can’t be ruled out.

TV footage showed anti-impeachment protesters burning tires to stop the traffic in some of Sao Paulo’s main roads, including that leading to the international airport. Government supporters have scheduled more protests for the next few days. 
"Even the best laws aren’t good enough for the scale of this battle," said Carlos Pio, a professor of politics at the University of Brasilia. "The impeachment process will continue and with it the noise, challenges and uncertainty that we’ve been seeing."

I don't know enough about Brazilian politics to know the answer to what's going on here, but I want to.  Things are getting crazy in Brazil and the Rio Summer Games are just weeks away.  Hell, the country may not have a government by then.

We'll see.

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