Thus Falls the House of Lula

BSB COIMBRA - PORTUGAL 29/03/3011 - DILMA/ PORTUGAL - NACIONAL - A presidente Dilma Rousseff acompanhada do ex presidente Lula durante coletiva com a imprensa no hall do hotel Quinta das Lágrimas onde falaram sobre a morte do ex vice presidente, José Alencar. Foto.: Beto Barata/ AE

Brazil’s Senate is hours away from approving the measure to impeach President Dilma Rousseff for violating budgetary rules. This means Rousseff will be temporarily removed from her post for 180 days, and Vice-President Michel Temer will take over. The Senate will now proceed to try her. If convicted, her separation from the job would be permanent.

The fall of the House of Lula has important consequences for Venezuela’s place in the region. In the last few years, Venezuela could count on the governments of Argentina and Brazil to lend their considerable diplomatic weight to defending it from its accusers.

Now, both countries have turned, and together with Colombia – never a friend of chavismo – the three largest countries in the continent view Venezuela with disdain, if not outright shock. Venezuela now finds itself isolated in a region it once dominated, far above what its weight would suggest. Its closest allies in the region are now Cuba, Ecuador, and Bolivia.

Will this mean the OAS will finally come to its senses and punish Venezuela for violating human rights? Will the region’s shifting tides embolden the opposition? Or will it all come to naught?

It is too soon to tell. Dilma could survive her trial and come back to the job emboldened. She could return and lean further left. Brazilians may yet turn to Lula once again. More likely, countries in the region may decide Venezuela is just not a priority, and continue looking the other way while we descend into Hades’ basement.

Regardless of what comes next, the fall of the House of Lula – because, let’s face it, Rousseff was never more than a minion for the bearded giant – is welcome news.

Its fall marks the end of a toxic copulation between business and politics that left a devastating legacy in the region, decimating our economies and our democracies. It also caps the precipitous fall of the Sao Paulo Forum, the birth mother of the Pink Tide that has engulfed the region in the last decade and a half … with nothing to show for it.

The fall comes not a moment too soon. Let’s just hope we’ve learned some lessons from all of this.

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  1. Dilma is out and the OAS dem charter is moving forward. The nephews are going to plead guilty and get 30. There are still many cards for uncle sam to play if forced.

  2. I think this impeachment process sets a really good precedent for the future about the power of a strong judicial branch to combat government corruption. But I still don’t feel as optimistic for Latinamerica in the future.

    I mean, many people in Brazil see this as evidence of failure of the current model, but they look at it differently depending on their political biases. The right see this as a sign of how even “moderate leftist” can bring great harm to the country, they can see it as a reason to radicalize. The left on the other hand can watch this as a sing of how “moderate left” isn’t real left, so they have their own reasons to radicalize, and radicalization can be really destructive specially with growing despise for politics and politicians in general in Brazil. Radicalization and anti-politics sentiment are sometimes really bad for democracies.

    But of course, I don’t know much about Brazil, so It’s VERY likely that I’m completely wrong.

    But those problems are still on my mind, along with another: many of the politicians supporting the impeachment are themselves even more corrupt than Lula or Dilma. That doesn’t justify the victim complex of Dilma and Lula, they clearly did wrong. But still, if the lessons we must take now that the “pink tide” is falling are that acting on “ideological purity” without combating corruption and fixing concrete problems in your country is bad for everyone, then when I see politicians saying that they’re saving Brazil while at the same time they don’t mention the corruption in their own parties, I feel like we, as a region, are not really changing much, we’re not really learning our lesson.

    For Venezuela, the end of the power of the left in Brazil is a big deal. But for Latinamerica, and the fight against corruption and inefficiency, this victory feels quite frankly small for me.

    (Sorry for any gramatical errors)

  3. If Latam is Westeros. Who is Kaleezi Mother of Dragons? Dilma reminds me of Tyrion Lanister. Note there is already a “Wall” in GoT (pre-dating Trump!). Only that its to keep the wildings from the north out. LOL maybe Dilma is Mother of Bribes? Petrobribes, Eletrobribes, etc

    • ohhh, I like this game. (Could be because i just watched GoT).

      Off the top of my head….

      I’ll nominate Tibisay to be Cersei Lannister,

      and for Delcy, i’m not sure. Gut instinct is to say Lysa Arryn (Tully). But could be Sansa Stark (the early, season 1-2 super-annoying Sansa)

    • I’ll always remember with a macabre fondness and sadness how my friends claimed Capriles and Leopoldo to be Robb Stark during season one, I had already read the books. My sweet summer childs.

  4. The combination of economic contraction and what will likely be a sustained period of political instability in Brazil can’t be good for Venezuela. I’m starting to think what we are seeing emerge is not a new consensus, but a collection of radically divided governments with no clear mandate in highly polarized and economically stressed countries.

    • Radically divided is definitely the word. People are generally clear (even here in Venezuela) that things are “bad”, but radically divided about WHY things are bad. Without a clear understanding of what the problem is by a common majority, solutions will be consistently difficult to come by, even impossible in many cases.

  5. Defeating Dilma is just the first step and in the long run, a crucial but not the most important one , whats really important is what whoever takes over after her does to improve Brazils situation and show enough good governance to put order in the house and achieve some progress , I hear that they are setting up a model gabinet made up of the best ministers from widely different political orientations . If that works then there is a sign that people are learning to put the games of partisanship aside to let the experts put their act together for the good of the country . that would be a good message for the whole of the continent .

    Dilmas failure is the failure of a populist system of governance , this is an important lesson , another is that corruption however deeply hidden will in time become public knowldege and turn to destroy those that indulged in it , this is also true in Argentina . The left must learn to wean itself away from radical populism and from the temptations of corruption if it is to survive and thrive at some future time.

  6. While a Brazil that leans more towards the rule of law in Venezuela is a good thing, vis a vis the OAS, the calculus there still comes down to the “Islands” and the rest of the “tit-hangers” that are enjoying the fruits of corruption.

    Still, this blow to Lula and his cronies will be a hard one for them to overcome. Dilma being separated for good would be an even bigger blow.

  7. Venezuela’s intractable peaceful outcome problem is illustrated by the magnitude of the Brazil-Venezuela marches numbers. It took hundreds of thousands of Brazilian marchers to de-throne Vilma on the abstruse offense of budget law violations. Yesterday only tens (not thousands) of marchers, in each of different parts of Venezuela, as reported in the few intl. press releases, were generally blocked in their attempt to force the Govt. to continue the RR constitutional right process, and this against a backdrop of very real acute daily massive food/medicine/hospital/personal security scarcities. The Venezuelan docile population is digging their own Castro-Communist grave.

    • The hundreds of thousands of marchers were not out due to budget law violations, there were out to demand an end to corruption and bad public services. Venezuela has had some huge marches over the years as well. It’s much safer to march in Brazil than Venezuela.

      • Obviously, but the reason given for the impeachment was budget law violation. The point is, corruption in Brasil/bad publc services is just an iota of the size of Venezuelan corruption/bad public services/etc., and the marches for some years now, especially lately, in Venezuela have been puny. Not since Capriles ran for president have we seen a march of any significant size in Caracas, and the living conditions of the vast mass of Venezuelan citizenry are infinitely poorer now than they were then. It was never safe to protest in the Ukraine/Poland/Czechoslovakia/et. al., but, people did, were tortured, died, not just for themselves, but for a better future for their children, grandchildren, country.

  8. Good to see these communist crooks fade away with their message of destructive populism. Now if we can just get rid of the Castro mafia.

  9. I think is really important to reframe the Political narrative in Latin America from Left vs Right towards Competent vs Incompetent Politicians, because at the end that is the only narrative that matters. In sports, business, arts, etc.
    It is beyond the pale that many recent LatAm presidents don’t even have a High School diploma, like Lula, Maduro, etc and that apparently is acceptable.

    I hope Brazil comes out of this impeachment stronger with more competent and pragmatic politicians.

    Ultimately, what is good for Brazil is good for Venezuela,
    With Dilma out Maduro gets even weaker.

  10. Sadly, this constitutional crisis comes just as the effect of China’s slow-down is dragging down Brazil’s economy. Now both sides, but particularly the left, can blame the other for difficulties which in fact are caused more by the global economy than the divisions inside Brazil. A new mythical “narrative” will be born.

  11. “toxic copulation of business and politics”, bravo well said. There is a critical lesson to be learned. Call it fascism or socialism but this combination of power is a deathlnell to freedom, economic and political.

  12. I am from Brazil. This is a good article but I’d like to add and clarify a few things. First, the odds that Dilma will return are extremely small. In fact, her fate was finished after she lost in the Chamber of Deputies. It is simply unthinkable that the Senate would reinstate her after she didn’t manage to get 1/3 of the votes in the lower house. It’s game over for her. Second, Lula has no chance whatsoever in 2018. He is currently rejected by almost 70% of voters. PT is going to be destroyed in local elections this year. They can no longer count on the state apparatus. They no longer can say that the opposition will end social programs like Bolsa Família, since this and others will continue. And, in the Northeast, which gave PT the last two elections, people are not “petistas” they are “governistas”. They vote with the government, always, since the days of the dictatorship. And, on top of all this, Lula will probably go to jail, possibly in the next weeks.
    As for the relationship with Venezuela, the interesting bit is that the new foreign minister is Jose Serra. Serra is an very competent man, addicted to work, but disliked for being irascible and sttuborn by almost everyone who knows him. And he is an eternal candidate for president. As such, he wants to be in the news. So, I think that he will be spoiling for a fight with the “Bolivarians”. The governments of Venezuela, Bolivia, Equador and Cuba are despised by the majority of those who marched in the streets in favor of impeachment, so there is a domestic incentive to do so, from the point of view of Temer as well. In the streets, people where singing some songs that said “Chora petista bolivariano, a roubalheira do PT está acabando” and “Pé na bunda dela, o Brasil não é Venezuela” (let me clarify that by this people meant Venezuela’s government). Because of that, I think Brazil will not only withold its support, but may actively oppose the venezuelan regime.


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