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Opinion: If Impeachment, Then Who?

04/06/2016 - 09h59

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GLENN GREENWALD
DAVID MIRANDA

The most bizarre fact of Brazil's political crisis is also its most important one: almost every major political figure advocating the impeachment of President Dilma Rousseff faces corruption allegations far more serious than those directed at her.

From Michel Temer and Eduardo Cunha to PSDB's Aécio Nevis and Geraldo Alckmin, Dilma's most influential adversaries are implicated in shocking corruption scandals that would be career-destroying in any healthy democracy.

Indeed, the towering irony of this crisis is that while Brazil's major parties (including PT) are rife with corruption, President Rousseff is one of the very few politicians with plausible claims to the Presidency of the Republic who is not directly involved in corruption schemes for personal enrichment.

These vital facts have radically changed how the international media view Brazil's political crisis. For months, U.S. and European journalists favorably depicted Brazil's anti-government street protesters, the Lava Jato investigation, and the decisions of federal judge Sergio Moro.

Because of these facts, compounded by Moro's overtly political treatment of ex-President Lula and the embarrassingly sensationalistic media coverage of Jornal Nacional and other Globo Rede programs, many are now recognizing that the reality is far less inspiring and noble.

There are many legitimate reasons for the anger of Brazilian society toward the government. But for many of Brazil's most powerful economic and media elites, corruption is merely the excuse, the pretext, for achieving an anti-democratic end.

The real goal is to remove a political party from power (PT) that they have failed to defeat in four straight democratic elections. Nobody who genuinely cared about ending corruption would cheer a process that would empower leaders of parties such as PMBD, PSDB and PP.

Worse, it seems increasingly clear that the hope of opposition party leaders is that Dilma's impeachment will be so cathartic for the public, that it will allow for a quiet end to Lava Jato, or at least result in "pizza" for criminally corrupt politicians.

In other words, the impeachment of Dilma Rousseff is designed to protect corruption, not to punish or end it - a framework more characteristic of a plutocracy than a mature democracy.

Impeachment of a president is a legitimate tool in all democracies. But it is an extreme measure, to be used only in the most compelling circumstances of crimes by the Republic's President, and only when there is concrete evidence of that criminality. The case for Dilma's impeachment meets none of those criteria.

In an advanced democracy, the rule of law, not political power, must prevail. If, despite all this, the country is truly determined to remove Dilma, the worst alternative is to permit the corrupt line of succession to ascend to power.

The principles of democracy demand that Dilma Rousseff complete her term in office. If that is not an option, and if she is going to be impeached, the best alternative is new elections. That way, the population would assume its proper place as provided by the Constitution: all power emanates from the people.

Glenn Greenwald is co-founder of The Intercept, a site specializing in reporting on domestic politics and foreign policy. His reporting won the Pulitzer Prize in 2014 and the Prêmio Esso in 2013.

David Miranda, a journalist and activist, is the founder of the Snowden Treaty, an internacional proposal to safeguard private information.

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