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Impeaching Rousseff Is Not Enough to Fix Brazil

By: Carlos Sabino - @Sabino2324 - Mar 18, 2016, 12:20 pm
Rousseff's administration is faltering after corruption allegations reaching back to predecessor Lula da Silva
Rousseff’s administration is faltering after corruption allegations reaching back to predecessor Lula da Silva (Guioteca)

EspañolThe circle is closing around Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff after strong allegations of corruption have been made against her and former President Luiz Inacio da Silva.

These are not isolated or petty cases: through Petrobras, the Brazilian state oil company, billions of dollars have been diverted to the Worker’s Party and certainly to the pockets of those who claim to defend the poor and excluded.

Millions of Brazilians have been outraged by this monetary, political and moral scam, and have demonstrated in more than 100 cities across the country.

They have demanded that Rousseff step down, be tried and that the complex network of systematic corruption — which has been dubbed “Operation Lava Jato” — be dismantled.

Lula’s presidency began on January 1, 2003, and over that time had been praised for reducing poverty and keeping Brazil on a path toward economic growth.

These alleged successes allowed his party to continue to remain in power through his protegé, Dilma Rousseff, who was elected in 2011. But the years have shown that both growth and poverty reduction were nothing more than mirages.

The great social programs for the poor and the wasteful government spending led to a growing imbalance in fiscal accounts now paid by all citizens: the country’s government spends more than it receives, despite the high taxes charged — with its consecutive devaluations, interest increases and a high inflation that exceeds 10 percent.

Added to inflation, a tough recession has led to a decline of more than four percent in the Brazilian economy last year. Consequently poverty has risen again, the economy is in decline and the country is going adrift.

Brazil’s populist left has demonstrated the limitations of its policies again, the same that led to the crisis and indebtedness throughout Latin America in past decades.

It is very easy for politicians to spend handfuls when in office, and to develop a savior-of-the-poor image for themselves, even when they are actually damaging the country.

[adrotate group=”7″]If we add that the supposed redeemers turn out to be greedy people who steal shamelessly, the Brazilian citizens’ indignation becomes quite understandable.

The same happened in Guatemala last year, in an effective civic movement that resulted in the president and the vice president going to jail, and the same can also happen in Chile, where a corruption scandal has also spattered President Michelle Bachelet after her son and daughter benefited from her influence in securing a US $10 million loan to engage in real estate speculation.

In most of Latin America, citizens are now aware of the enormous corruption that has been installed in their countries over recent decades, driven by populist governments that appealed to the most primal feelings of the electorate to gain and secure power.

The lesson to be learned is a simple one: It is not enough to see these people go to jail; you need to change the orientation of state policies.

Carlos Sabino Carlos Sabino

Sociologist, writer, and university professor, Sabino is director of the masters and doctoral programs in history at the University of Francisco Marroquín, Guatemala. Follow him @Sabino2324