Brazil’s president claims innocence at trial
Rousseff’s scheduled appearance during her impeachment trial is the culmination of a fight going back to late last year
Fighting to save her job, suspended President Dilma Rousseff addresses the Senate on Monday in a showdown pitting accusations that the she hurt Brazil’s economy with budget manipulations against her argument that she did nothing wrong and is being targeted by corrupt lawmakers.
Rousseff’s scheduled appearance during her impeachment trial is the culmination of a fight going back to late last year, when opponents in Congress presented a measure to remove her from office. It will come a day, perhaps two, before the Senate votes on whether to oust her from the presidency.
In May, the Senate voted 55-22 to suspend her from office for up to 180 days while a trial was prepared. Michel Temer, who was her vice president and turned into her nemesis, took over as president. If Rousseff is permanently removed, Temer will serve the rest of her term, which goes through 2018.
An official who had access to Rousseff’s opening address told The Associated Press on Sunday that her tone would be very assertive, which could fuel more tensions coming on the heels of the first three days of the trial, which included name-calling, shouting and a declaration by the Senate president that “stupidity is limitless.”
Rousseff was expected to arrive in the morning and deliver a 30-minute address. Both supporters and opponents then will be able to ask questions of Brazil’s first female president.
In the middle of her second term, the left-leaning leader is accused of breaking fiscal rules to hide problems in the federal budget. She denies wrongdoing and argues that her enemies are carrying out a “coup d’état.”
Opponents claim her maneuvers were an attempt to continue high spending and mask deficits, which ultimately exacerbated a severe recession in Latin America’s largest economy.
According to the official close to Rousseff, she planned remarks that would be “firm, but not arrogant.” The official agreed to discuss the speech only if not quoted by name because he wasn’t authorized to divulge its details.
The trial is being presided over by Supreme Court Chief Justice Ricardo Lewandowski.
Outside Congress, a huge wall was put up to separate Rousseff supporters and pro-impeachment activists. Police did not allow anyone to camp there Sunday, so the grounds were completely empty. Union and social movement leaders said it would be a different scene Monday during Rousseff’s testimony and later during the final vote expected Tuesday or Wednesday.