South America has been a special part of my life for four decades. I have lived many years in Brasil and Peru. I am married to an incredible lady from Argentina. I want to share South America with you.
Brazil’s President Dilma Rousseff has not had a particularly easy life. As a Marxist guerrilla, she was captured, tortured and spent three years in jail. She’s gone through two divorces and was struck down by lymphoma in 2009. As president, she’s received death threats and was regularly humiliated during the World Cup when thousands of fans swore at her in unison in front of the world’s media. But even by Rousseff’s standards, this has been a week from hell.
On Monday, a congressional committee voted in favour of impeaching her on allegations she illegally ran up debts with state banks. The same day, her vice-president Michel Temer ‘accidentally’ released a recording of his pre-prepared victory speech, addressing the nation as if he had already been handed the presidency.
On Tuesday, Brazil’s fourth-biggest party PP became the latest to abandon the ruling coalition and back Rousseff’s removal. On Wednesday, more political leaders came out in favour of her impeachment to the delight of the opposition, the financial markets and much of the country.
On Thursday, in a last-ditch attempt to save Rousseff and the legacy of the ruling Workers’ Party (PT), the attorney-general appealed to the Supreme Court to block the impeachment proceedings, calling certain aspects illegal. However, although many of the Supreme Court judges were appointed by the PT, they showed little loyalty during an emergency session on Thursday night and voted to reject the president’s plea.
Barring any more last-minute surprises, the lower house of congress is expected to vote on the impeachment motion on Sunday in the final nail-biting episode of Brazil’s political drama. If two-thirds of the 513 members approve the motion, as is now expected, it passes to the 81-member senate. If the senate votes by a simple majority to accept impeachment, the formal process begins and Temer takes over. He may need to write a new acceptance speech.
While Rousseff appears to be approaching the end of her political career, Peru’s Keiko Fujimori is hoping hers is just beginning. After winning almost 40 per cent of the votes in the first round of the country’s presidential elections on Sunday, she is betting that Peruvians will be able to ignore the dark legacy of her autocratic father who dissolved congress in 1992 and is currently in jail.
In the second round vote in June, she will face the former World Bank economist Pedro Pablo Kuczynski. If victorious, Fujimori would be Peru’s first female president – following in the footsteps of Brazil’s Rousseff but, for Peru’s sake, hopefully treading a different path.
Quote of the week
“Peru does not want extremism. We are the centre. What means being at the centre? Very simple: great economic growth to finance social investments” - Pedro Pablo Kuczynski, Peruvian presidential candidate