Brazil’s Senate Suspends President Dilma Rousseff

Foto Oficial Presidenta Dilma Rousseff.  Foto: Roberto Stuckert Filho.
Foto Oficial Presidenta Dilma Rousseff. Foto: Roberto Stuckert Filho.

After debating through the night, Brazil’s Senate voted early Thursday 55 to 22 to try President Dilma Rousseff on charges of manipulating the budget. The vote automatically suspends her from office.

The Senate had been widely expected to vote for Rousseff to be tried in impeachment proceedings. The final tally is a resounding defeat for Rousseff, easily surpassing the simple majority (41 votes) required.

In fact, two-thirds of the body voted for Rousseff to be tried. During trial proceedings, another two-thirds vote by the Senate would convict Rousseff and permanently remove her as the country’s president.

The Senate’s debate Wednesday night was a marathon — lasting more than 20 hours.

“Bleary-eyed legislators gathered in the early hours of the morning to cast their electronic vote,” NPR’s Lulu Garcia-Navarro reports.

“The tone of the Senate debate was markedly different from that of the lower house last month, where congressmen cheered and cried after casting their ballot. In the Senate there was only a smattering of applause after the results were announced. In the speeches throughout the night, many senators spoke about the economy and the legitimacy of the charges against Rousseff.

But, Lulu points out, many of Dilma’s critics and opponents are themselves caught up in scandal or suspicion.

“Almost 60 percent of the Senate is under some form of criminal investigation,” she notes. “There were surreal moments when former President, now Senator, Fernando Collor took to the podium to discuss his own impeachment process in 1992. Some of the senators speaking out most vociferously against Rousseff are themselves under indictment — like Ivo Cassol from Rondonia, who has been found guilty by the Supreme Court but is still in office while he appeals his jail sentence on technicalities.”

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