On Monday, Brazilian newspaper Folha de Sao Paulo revealed audio recordings of a conversation between the country’s planning minister, Romero Juca, and Sergio Machado, former CEO of state-owned oil company Petrobras subsidiary Transperto, calling to oust Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff, as part of a bid to derail an ongoing corruption investigation under which the two are involved.
The high-ranking Juca serves as the president of the Brazilian Democratic Movement Party (PMDB), the same political party as interim leader Michel Temer and other leading impeachment figures, including deposed lower house leader Eduardo Cunha and senate leader Renan Calheiros.
Juca immediately stepped down from his government post a few hours after the recordings were released, but the ever-unraveling threads of the coup plot threaten to completely dismantle the Temer government.
The impeachment coup
The impeachment proceedings against Rousseff are not a matter of corruption, but rather for borrowing from the federal savings bank to preserve social welfare programs facing short-term budgetary shortfalls caused by an international recession. The effort to impeach was initially led by Eduardo Cunha, who then served as the leader of Brazil’s lower legislative chamber.
Brazilians suspect that Cunha, considered the country’s most corrupt politician, bribed his parliamentary colleagues to advance a vote in favor of impeachment. The politician was featured in the Panama Papers and is known to have several dozen Swiss Bank accounts. Days before the Senate voted on Rousseff’s impeachment, Cunha was forced from office by a Supreme Court decree for multiple corruption charges.
Cunha was replaced by Waldir Maranhao, who attempted to end the illegitimate impeachment of Rousseff by annulling the lower house vote to impeach. Maranhao then rescinded this proclamation, in the face of threats and a challenge by Brazilian Senate leader Renan Calheiros, who insisted the impeachment would proceed.
Two days later, the Brazilian Senate voted 55 to 22 in favor of an impeachment trial for Rousseff, triggering a 180-day suspension from office for the popular Brazilian president. Michel Temer assumed control of the government one day later, pending the outcome of the impeachment trial. If 2/3 of the Brazilian Senate (54 members) vote to impeach, Rousseff will be permanently barred from office.
On Wednesday, Loud & Clear’s Brian Becker sat down with Dr. Francisco Dominguez, head of the Centre for Brazilian and Latin American Studies at Middlesex University, to discuss the fallout of the coup, exposed just months before the country hosts the world for the Summer Olympics.
Who is Romero Juca and why did he need to step down?
“The leaked recording confirms what everybody knew already–and what the mainstream media actually deny–that there was plotting among the key players behind the impeachment of Dilma Rousseff and that the reason why they were plotting to oust her was to stop the Car Wash/Petrobras corruption probe,” Dominguez said.
“Literally hundreds of the MPs were implicated in the Car Wash Investigation,” explained Dominguez. “The recordings of Juco and a guy named Machado reveal that people very high up in the political establishment were behind the impeachment effort to stop the investigation from moving forward.”
“Romero Juca is the president of the PMDB, which is the key party behind the interim government of Temer, which is to say he is very high up, so this interim government is already facing a crisis,” explained Dominguez. “The Green Party, a very small party which is part of Temer’s coalition, has already decided to withdraw from the government. Temer’s administration is beginning to crumble away because it is so illegitimate and it is involved in so much corruption that it is unbelievable.”
Why did Juco and other establishment figures want to oust Rousseff?
“They decided to impeach her according to the leaked recording because she wouldn’t stop the investigation that implicates hundreds of them in the Congress,” said Dominguez. “Based on what we know, about 300 of them are being investigated for corruption in the lower house and in the senate over 60% of the members are also being investigated for corruption.”
What about the popular protests in Brazil against Temer?
“This is a real big deal, and the corporate media will not report on this, but there are daily demonstrations with hundreds of thousands of people, maybe millions of people throughout the country in every single city,” said Dominguez. “There are university occupations, there are sit-ins, people went to the senate to give a harsh welcome to Temer calling him ‘Golpista’ (leader of a coup), shouting ‘Out with Temer’ and ‘Democracy in Brazil,’ and so on.”
“Literally every single day throughout Brazil this occurs,” explained Dominguez. “The country has exploded into mass social rebellion because what has been done is so scandalous.”
The professor predicted that the largest protests have yet to occur, and could completely destabilize the country.