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Dilma Vana Rousseff

Dilma Rousseff, ousted as Brazil's president, filed an appeal with the country's highest court to challenge the Federal Senate's decision to remove her from office for breaking budgetary rules. So far, all requests made by Rousseff's defense on the merits of the impeachment process against her had been rejected by the high court, whose chief justice, Ricardo Lewandowski, presided over her impeachment trial.

Rousseff, the country's first female president, denied any wrongdoing and accused her political opponents of using the trial as a way to overthrow her and undermine Brazil's democracy. President Rousseff, in a detailed, occasionally emotional speech, defended herself with honor and dignity from accusations she committed a “crime of responsibility”.

Of the 81 senators, 61 Senators voted in favor of her impeachment and 20 against, meeting the two-thirds majority needed to remove her from the presidency. Acting President Michel Temer will serve out Rousseff's term, which ends on 1 January 2019. Some local media reports showed that at least 52 senators had said they would vote to impeach Rousseff, while another 18 said they will oppose the impeachment and another 11 were undecided. Other reports claimed that at least 60 Brazilian Senators – six more than required for impeachment – were prepared to vote to permanently remove suspended President Dilma Rousseff from office.

Rousseff was suspended from office in May 2016. She was charged with spending money without congressional approval and illicitly using money from state banks to boost public works to favor her 2014 reelection — an accounting sleight of hand employed by many elected officials. Rousseff’s impeachment meant that democratic voting in one of the world’s largest democracies would be cancelled by a parliamentary coup - remote controlled by oligarchic interests.

The final defense witnesses in the impeachment trial against suspended Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff testified on 27 August 2016, the third day of court proceedings. Rousseff was accused of mishandling public funds for her 2014 electoral campaign. Rio State University law professor Ricardo Lodi testified on Saturday that Rousseff did not break the law or harm the country's economy, which is now in deep recession. Former Brazilian Economy Minister Nelson Barbosa said there was "nothing remotely illegal" in Rousseff's actions. "You cannot act retroactively with a new interpretation of the law," he added.

Rousseff and her supporters have, from the beginning, called her ouster a coup. Social movements, trade unions, campesinos, youth, Afro-Brazilian and youth groups have erupted in massive street protests across the country to support both Rousseff and democracy. Rousseff's dismissal would confirm a shift to the right and the end of 13 years of leftist Workers’ Party rule that helped lift some 30 million Brazilians out of poverty.

According to the corruption watchdog Transparencia Brasil, around two-thirds of Brazil's senators have had brushes with the law either currently or in the past. Senate-imposed interim president Michel Temer would be immediately sworn in as president until the next scheduled elections in late 2018. Known as the most unpopular man in Brazil and loudly booed at the Olympic opening ceremonies, Temer, a right-wing member of the Brazilian Democratic Movement Party has been implicated in corruption allegations.

On 17 April 2016 the 513-member lower house of Congress voted 367 to 137 in favor of the impeachment. Seven lawmakers abstained and two did not show up to vote. Rousseff’s supporters needed 172 votes to block the impeachment from going forward. The issue passed to the senate to determine whether to open an investigation against Rousseff on possible removal from office. If approved by the senate, the president would be suspended from office and Vice President Michel Temer, also facing low approval ratings and corruption charges, would step in to fill the country’s top office.

Brazilian senators voted 12 May 2016 to suspend President Dilma Rousseff from office for breaking budgetary laws. She faced an impeachment trial, and her vice president, Michel Temer, took over her post in the interim A simple majority was all that was needed to open a trial, and the 55–22 vote was one vote more than the 54 votes needed to convict her and remove her from office. It was not immediately clear how many of the senators who voted to put her on trial would also vote to convict her.

Rousseff used money borrowed from state banks to cover budget deficits and pay for social programs. She engaged in some creative accounting to try and make the situation look better, though it was questionable whether or not her actions were illegal. The push for impeachment was largely fueled by other lawmakers’ desires to deflect attention from themselves.

post-coup Brazil looked to become a land of permanent crisis, with a powerless, illegitimate, corrupt government, economic recession, and unemployment. As Emir Sader, one of Brazil’s top sociologists, noted, “everything positive that Brazil built this century will be thrown out by a coup.”

The first woman elected to the office of President of Brazil, Dilma Vana Rousseff was born on December 14, 1947 in Belo Horizonte, the state capital of Minas Gerais. Rousseff has a Masters degree in economic theory from the University of Campinas and an uncompleted doctorate in economics. In 1992, she participated in an International Visitor program in the US. She is now separated from her second husband (who was also an opposition militant). She has a daughter, Paula, in Porto Alegre, where she spends her weekends. She enjoys movies and classical music.

President Rousseff was born to Bulgarian immigrant Pedro Rousseff and Dilma Jane da Silva, a school teacher from Resende, in the state of Rio de Janeiro. The couple had three children: Igor, Dilma and Zana. Her father was a Bulgarian attorney who had naturalized Brazilian citizenship. President Rousseff received her primary education at the traditional Nossa Senhora de Sion School and her secondary education at the State Central High School in Belo Horizonte, then a hub of student activism.

At the age of 16, President Rousseff began her political career, taking part in movements against the military regime that ruled Brazil from 1964 to 1985. She became actively involved in opposition to the military dictatorship in 1967, at age 19, while studying economics in Minas Gerais. Joining various underground groups, she organized three bank robberies and then co-founded the guerilla group "Armed Revolutionary Vanguard of Palmares".

In 1969, she planned a legendary robbery popularized as the "Theft of Adhemar's Safe". The operation broke into the Rio apartment of the lover of former-Sao Paulo Governor Adhemar de Barros, netting US$2.5 million that Adhemar had stashed there. In 1969, President Rousseff met Carlos Franklin Paixão de Araújo, a lawyer from Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil’s southernmost state. Together, they suffered persecution under the military regime.

Rousseff separated from her first husband, Claudio Linhares, who in January 1970 hijacked a plane to Cuba and remained there. That same month, she was captured by the regime and jailed for over three years (the prosecutor called her "the Joan of Arc of Subversion"), including 22 days of brutal electro-shock torture.

Freed in late 1973, Rousseff moved to Porto Alegre, the state capital of the southern state of Rio Grande do Sul. She resumed her studies at the Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul, where she earned a degree in Economics. In 1975, President Rousseff started an internship at the Foundation of Economics and Statistics (FEE), a think-tank of the Rio Grande do Sul state government. In 1976, her first and only child, Paula Rousseff de Araújo, was born.

In the late 1970s, President Rousseff participated in an amnesty movement that supported citizens who had been deprived of their political rights or expelled from the country. Together with her then husband Carlos Araújo, Rousseff became one of the founders of the Democratic Labor Party (PDT) of leftist leader Leonel Brizola in Rio Grande do Sul. When her rights were restored by the 1979 general amnesty, she served in various city and state positions. In 1986, she was appointed Municipal Secretary of Treasury of Porto Alegre by Mayor Alceu Collares.

Following the return to democracy, Rousseff took active part in the 1989 presidential campaign, supporting PDT candidate Leonel Brizola in the first round and Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, from the Workers’ Party (PT), in the runoff. In the early 1990s, Rousseff served as President of the Economy and Statistics Foundation of the state of Rio Grande do Sul (1991-1993). In 1993, Alceu Collares, then Governor of Rio Grande do Sul, appointed her State Secretary of Mines, Energy and Communications (1993-1994). She served again as State Secretary of Mines (1999-2002) under Workers' Party (PT) Governor Olivio Dutra, who was elected in 1998.

In 2001, Rousseff joined the Workers´ Party and one year later, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva was elected President. She was a key member of Lula's transition team in the weeks before he took office in January 2003, and impressed with Rousseff´s knowledge and experience in the energy sector, Lula named her Minister of Mines & Energy days after his inauguration.

Between 2003 and 2005, Rousseff led an in-depth redesign of Brazil’s electricity sector and created the “Light for All” program, which made electricity available to more than 11 million Brazilians living in rural areas and in the outskirts of large cities. As chair of the board of directors of Petrobras, she encouraged biofuels research and production.

In 2005, President Lula chose Rousseff to serve as his Chief of Staff and to oversee the work of all ministries. In her new capacity, Rousseff played a decisive role in coordinating the Growth Acceleration Program (PAC), a set of policies and measures to promote investments in infrastructure; and “My House, My Life”, the biggest housing program in the nation’s history. She also coordinated the new regulatory framework for the exploration of Brazil’s pre-salt oil reserves.

Dilma Rousseff, President Lula's choice to succeed him as president in January 2011, cast doubt over her viability as a presidential candidate when doctors discovered in March 2009 that she had lymphatic cancer. When Rousseff's illness was first made public, the Lula government rushed to give optimistic predictions for Rousseff's health when it was too early for a reliable prognosis. Her doctors stated that her cancer was caught early and she has a 90 percent chance of a full recovery.

Rousseff left the government of President Lula on April 3, 2010 to become the presidential candidate for the Worker’s Party. In the runoff election on October 31, 2010, she was elected President of Brazil with almost 56 million votes. Her inauguration took place on January 1, 2011.

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff was re-elected to a second term following a victory during the second round of elections held on 26 October 2014. With all the votes tallied, Rousseff had registered 51.6 percent of the ballots over her opponent, center-right senator Aecio Neves, who received 48.4 percent of the votes.

Even though no evidence had been found linking the president to the Petrobras scandal, polls have shown large numbers believed Rousseff herself was responsible for the corruption scandal. This was, in part, because the media had gone to great lengths in trying to portray the governing Workers' Party as a corrupt, bureaucratic party that poorly managed the state company.

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Page last modified: 21-09-2016 20:03:09 ZULU