Brazilians protest government kickback

Amol Garg, Staff Writer

September 4, 2015

The pots and pans are out and the citizens of Brazil are taking to the streets to impeach President Dilma Rousseff.

Support has drastically dropped for Rousseff in the past year. Impeachment cries can even be heard on the streets as the Brazilian people protest.

Recently an investigation in the semipublic interest company, Petrobras, discovered that government officials were enjoying million dollar kickbacks, or illegal income. To make matters worse, the trail led to the Brazilian Worker’s Party, which is associated with Rousseff.

“I believe that people are upset because there is so much dirt and corruption in our government and that nothing is being done to ensure a more long term economic recovery for the country,” said Barbara Blaschke, a Brazilian national, in an email interview with The Guilfordian.

“The problem is that politicians, who only care about staying in power, basically steal money from the people, create these so called ‘welfare’ programs to gain the votes of the poor population, which is incredibly large in Brazil.”

The importance is also heightened by the fact that the economy of Brazil is at the brink of a recession. Rousseff suggests that she had no knowledge of the scandal.

“The problem for President Rousseff is that, A, because global commodity prices are so low, the government is running a budget deficit, and has very little money to spend on social programs, which it did a great deal when commodity prices were high,” said Professor of Political Science Ken Gilmore. “B, the government has had to raise interest rates to attract investment.”

Brazilian citizens are furious and demand that Rousseff be held responsible for the scandal.

“Taking power away from President Rousseff is important because she’s not capable of administrating the country,” said Brazilian citizen Antônio Mendonça in an email interview with The Guilfordian. “She’s an accomplice of the scandals and she hasn’t done anything to save our country.

“But Dilma’s impeachment alone will not reduce corruption in Brazil. I believe she knew about the kickbacks and that has been clear for a long time now.”

Others claim that Rousseff is innocent and that the only people responsible are those who enjoyed the kickbacks.

“What prevents the government from addressing this year’s protests is that they’re not asking for better safety, education or health systems,” said Brazilian citizen and lawyer Thiago de Lucena in an email interview with The Guilfordian. “They’re asking for the president’s impeachment. So the only way Dilma can help them is by resigning.

“For there to be an impeachment, the president must have had been accused and charged guilty of a crime and the crime must have been committed during their mandate. However, in Dilma’s case this is impossible due to the fact that her new mandate started in 2015.”

Regardless, not only did Rousseff’s credibility suffer from this scandal but also her ability to govern.

“I bet there is going to be a super crackdown on the accounting and transparency of Petrobras and the government,” said Economics Chair and John K. Voehringer Jr. Professor of Economics Robert Williams.

“The possibility of even a popular government withstanding the economic downturn, like the one in Brazil, is very poor.”

Currently, Brazil is in an economic recession, as the country’s economy contracted by almost two percent in three months.

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