Thursday, August 11, 2016

Down in Brasilia, not far from Rio


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As the readers may know, Brasilia is the capital city of Brazil. It was a city literally built to avoid conflicts of jealousy between Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo, the two monster metropolitan areas. The idea was finally turned into reality in 1956, although construction began many years before.
As athletes win medals in Rio, Brazil’s politicians in Brasilia have been engaged in their own contests in the form of the corruption trial of President Dilma Rousseff. Yesterday, the Brazilian Congress voted to impeach the leftist president and begin a full trial.    
This is from Reuters:
With the eyes of the world on the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, senators in the capital Brasilia voted 59-21 against the suspended leftist leader in a raucous, 20-hour session presided over by Chief Justice Ricardo Lewandowski.
A conviction would definitively remove Rousseff from office, ending 13 years of leftist rule by her Workers Party, and confirm that interim President Michel Temer will serve out the rest of her term through 2018.
Rousseff’s opponents needed only a simple majority in the 81-seat Senate to put her on trial for manipulating government accounts and spending without congressional approval, which they say helped her win re-election in 2014.
A verdict is expected at the end of the month and will need the votes of two-thirds of the Senate to convict Rousseff, five votes less than her opponents mustered on Wednesday.
Acting President Michel Temer will serve out the rest of President Rouseff’s term if she is convicted.  
Beyond the dramatics of a corruption trail, there is some economic reality to deal with. Mr. Temer is hoping for a conviction so that he can formally take over and address the worst economic crisis since the 1930s.
Temer wants the trial behind him so that he can address public spending and reform a very generous pension system. Temer, who is well liked by the business sector in contrast to the leftist Rouseff, wants to restore confidence in the world’s 8th largest GDP.
So there are two major events going on down in Brazil: Rio and the medals plus an unprecedented political crisis in the federal government.
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