The Impeachment and Brazil’s Political Culture


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The political actions seen during Dilma Rousseff’s impeachment stand for much more than merely actions. They highlight the blatant and unfortunate aspects of Brazilian politics and reveal how the Brazilian political system is in need of change. From the actions of current President Michel Temer to those of Eduardo Cunha, alongside his recent removal as President of the Brazilian Chamber of Deputies, Brazil’s political system reveals an overall identity that is in crisis.

Michel Temer, who officially took office in August as the 37th President of Brazil, appointed 23 new ministers of the Brazilian government during his interim term, all of which were men of white descent. Temer also dissolved ministries that dealt with reviewing gender and racial equality in Brazil. Only recently, on September 9th, after Attorney General Fábio Medina was accused of several corruption charges, did Temer announce the first female minister to take office in his government: Grace Mendonça.

IBGE, the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics, reveals that more than half of Brazil’s population is comprised of women and that 43% of the Brazilian population is of Pardo (mixed ethnic) descent. The lack of diversity within Temer’s administration reveals a system where a substantial amount of Brazilians are indirectly blocked from participating in politics, a problem that runs deep within the political culture. Although the choice of assembling a cabinet with only men comes solely from Temer and his staff, a systematic issue can be raised. The overall political identity, policy and administration in Brazil make such acts of individual influence common. Not only does Brazilian politics marginalize groups that have been historically trivialized, but it also jeopardizes its ability to maintain basic civil rights. Amnesty International, a non-governmental organization focused on human rights, openly criticized and denounced Temer’s actions, saying that the “political crisis in Brazil jeopardizes the human rights agenda.”

Brazil’s deteriorating political identity can also be seen when scrutinizing the forces which acted behind Dilma’s impeachment process. Eduardo Cunha–currently removed from office and under investigation for corruption charges–is rumored to have set forth the impeachment process.  This is due to the withdrawal of the Worker’s Party support for the continuation of his mandate as the President of the Chamber of Deputies, which had been questioned since its instauration. This action influenced the future of Brazilian politics, reasserting how the idea of exchange of favors, established during the first Republic, is historically maintained behind Brazil’s political curtain. Although Cunha’s choice came from his personal nature, Brazil’s political system, as mentioned, makes such acts likely. Cunha and Temer’s actions, though occurring at different times, reveal an overall political identity that is decadent.

In April, during the voting procedure in the Chamber of Deputies for the continuation of Dilma’s impeachment process, congressmen Jaír Bolsonaro dedicated his vote to Carlos Brilhante Ustra, head of a torture unit during Brazil’s dictatorial regime and the first person to be recognized by Brazilian law to be a torturer for political repression during the military regime. After the dedication, a large majority of the house applauded Bolsonaro’s statement, revealing a systematic issue of violent and unconstitutional ideologies that run within Brazilian politics. By combining this action with our newly appointed cabinet and Cunha’s choice to set forth the impeachment procedure, we are able to notice a political culture that is falling into pieces.

The actions that unrolled during Dilma’s impeachment process ultimately reveal a systematic culture of marginalization, unprofessionalism, and violence that runs within Brazil’s political identity.

— Fernando Martins

The actions that unrolled during Dilma’s impeachment process ultimately reveal a systematic culture of marginalization, unprofessionalism, and violence that runs within Brazil’s political identity. It reasserts the dominance of men and white people in our system and reveals an undeniable bias against groups that have been marginalized throughout Brazilian history. The procedure tells us that politicians are not preoccupied with the future of this nation; individual interest speaks louder than progress in this nation. It tells us that Brazilian politicians do not acknowledge the violent past that this country lived through and that there is much to change in order for Brazil to become the nation that many wish for.


Sources: The Guardian, El Pais, Estadão