Rousseff defends herself before the Brazilian Senate
Monday, Dilma Rousseff will cross the blue room at the Brazilian Federal Senate. There, she will face her 81 judges; 81 senators.
It will be the first time in more than 270 days of the impeachment process that the president, who has been away for all this time, will defend herself personally of the charges and, at the same time, try to convince the senators who are still undecided that she should continue in office.
It will undoubtedly be the climax scene of this historical process in which a head of state is judged. A previous impeachment process took place in Brazil in 1992, with former president, Fernando Collor de Melo. Collor resigned as president before having to face the Senate, an option that Rousseff has refused to adopt.
On the streets, Brazilians are tired of a process that looks more like a rite than a true judgment. The population does not seem very interested in the impeachment.
So far there have not been demonstrations on the street. There are many newspapers that prefer to report on interim President, Michel Temer’s plans, once he is ratified as president.
The last phase of the impeachment process began Thursday. And forecasts remain the same: clearly unfavorable to Rousseff. It will simply take the support of 54 senators to approve the impeachment. In previous votes those who want to see Rousseff ousted have added up to 60 votes.
Since Thursday, the witnesses for the defense and the prosecution have been answering questions, but nothing seems to alter the verdict that many senators have reached.
One of the last to testify in the process, during the session on Saturday, was Nelson Barbosa, economy minister until last May 12, who defended Rousseff during his testimony. According to him, Dilma did not break any law to justify impeachment. “There is nothing remotely illegal,” Barbosa said, “and we cannot reinterpret the law retroactively.”
On Monday, things will be different from the other days, as Rousseff will enter the room accompanied by an entourage of 20 people formed by former ministers and deputies who remained at her side until the day she left power temporarily.
She will sit at the table of the presidency, to the left of the President of the Federal Supreme Court, Ricardo Lewandowski, responsible for chairing the sessions.
During the first minutes she will speak to her liking. According to some of her advisers, she will make an appeal aimed at getting some support from those undecided senators who may vote against the impeachment.
Along with faithful senators and deputies, Rousseff’s entourage will be composed by former Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, also immersed in his own legal problems. He is being investigated and indicted on several charges of corruption and obstruction of justice.
After Rousseff speaks freely to the Senate, she will have to respond to senators who want to question her. Each senator will have five minutes. It will be strange, and unusual, since Rousseff has been characterized during her tenure for being a closed person, not being used to talking with deputies or senators.
Rousseff is being tried for the crime of responsibility that include changes in the budget without permission from Congress and credit requests to public banks.
The lack of questioning will be a gesture, also symbolic, that the arguments do not matter, that everyone has already made the decision that that decision is more political than legal. Everything indicates that Rousseff will no longer be president of Brazil after this week.