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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