FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

Brazilian Coup Threatens Democracy and National Sovereignty

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff is now threatened with impeachment, but there is no evidence that she is linked to the “Lava Jato“ scandal, or any other corruption. Rather, she is accused of an accounting manipulation that somewhat misrepresented the fiscal position of the government — something that prior presidents have done. To borrow an analogy from the United States, when the Republicans refused to raise the debt ceiling in the U.S. in 2013, the Obama administration used a number of accounting tricks to postpone the deadline at which the limit was reached. Nobody cared.

The impeachment campaign — which the government has correctly labelled a coup — is an effort by Brazil’s traditional elite to obtain by other means what they have not been able to win at the ballot box for the past 12 years. Former president Lula is accused of receiving money from corporations for speeches, and for renovations to a property that he claims he did not failedweisbrotown. But even if these accusations are true, there is no evidence of a crime or even a link to corruption. The alleged events took place after Lula left the presidency — and again, as in the U.S., former officials can legally get paid for speeches. Yet Judge Sergio Moro, who is leading the investigation, has led a well-executed smear campaign against Lula. He had to apologize to the Supreme Court for releasing wiretapped phone conversations between Lula and Dilma, Lula and his attorney, and even Lula’s wife and their children.

Of course the Workers’ Party would not be vulnerable to this coup attempt if the economy were not mired in a deep recession. But here too, the media is patently wrong, agitating for

further spending cuts and high interest rates that only worsen and prolong the downturn. To the contrary, Brazil needs a serious stimulus to jump-start the economy. Fortunately, the country has about $353 billion in international reserves, and is therefore not constrained by the balance of payments.

The main obstacle to recovery is the power of the big banks, which are like Wall Street in the U.S., but on steroids. Brazil is paying nearly seven percent of GDP in interest on its public debt — more than Greece at the height of its debt crisis. But Brazil has no debt crisis, nor any significant threat of default. Its usurious interest payments are a result of the political power of its own banks, who currently enjoy a record-breaking 34 percent spread between their borrowing and lending rates. Just reducing Brazil’s public debt service to its level of a few years ago would allow for a major stimulus — about 3.5 percent of GDP — that could pull the country out of recession.

The U.S. government has been quiet about this coup attempt but there is little doubt here about where it stands. It has always supported coups against left governments in the hemisphere, including — in just the 21st century — Paraguay in 2012, Haiti in 2011 and 2004Honduras in 2009, and Venezuela in 2002. President Obama went to Argentina to lavish praise on the new right-wing, pro-U.S. government there, and the administration reversed its prior policy of blocking multilateral loans to Argentina. It could be a coincidence that the scandal at Petrobras followed a major NSA spying operation that targeted the company — or not. And within Brazil today, the opposition is dominated by politicians who favor Washington. It would be an added shame if Brazil lost much of its national sovereignty, as well as democracy, from this sordid coup.

This column originally appeared on Huffington Post

More articles by:

Mark Weisbrot is co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research, in Washington, D.C. and president of Just Foreign Policy. He is also the author of  Failed: What the “Experts” Got Wrong About the Global Economy (Oxford University Press, 2015).

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550
Weekend Edition
August 16, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Paul Street
Uncle Sam was Born Lethal
Jennifer Matsui
La Danse Mossad: Robert Maxwell and Jeffrey Epstein
Rob Urie
Neoliberalism and Environmental Calamity
Stuart A. Newman
The Biotech-Industrial Complex Gets Ready to Define What is Human
Nick Alexandrov
Prevention Through Deterrence: The Strategy Shared by the El Paso Shooter and the U.S. Border Patrol
Jeffrey St. Clair
The First Dambuster: a Coyote Tale
Eric Draitser
“Bernie is Trump” (and other Corporate Media Bullsh*t)
Nick Pemberton
Is White Supremacism a Mental Illness?
Jim Kavanagh
Dead Man’s Hand: The Impeachment Gambit
Andrew Levine
Have They No Decency?
David Yearsley
Kind of Blue at 60
Ramzy Baroud
Manifestos of Hate: What White Terrorists Have in Common
Evaggelos Vallianatos
The War on Nature
Martha Rosenberg
Catch and Hang Live Chickens for Slaughter: $11 an Hour Possible!
Yoav Litvin
Israel Fears a Visit by Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib
Neve Gordon
It’s No Wonder the Military likes Violent Video Games, They Can Help Train Civilians to Become Warriors
Susan Miller
That Debacle at the Border is Genocide
Ralph Nader
With the Boeing 737 MAX Grounded, Top Boeing Bosses Must Testify Before Congress Now
Victor Grossman
Warnings, Ancient and Modern
Meena Miriam Yust - Arshad Khan
The Microplastic Threat
Kavitha Muralidharan
‘Today We Seek Those Fish in Discovery Channel’
Louis Proyect
The Vanity Cinema of Quentin Tarantino
Bob Scofield
Tit For Tat: Baltimore Takes Another Hit, This Time From Uruguay
Nozomi Hayase
The Prosecution of Julian Assange Affects Us All
Ron Jacobs
People’s Music for the Soul
John Feffer
Is America Crazy?
Jonathan Power
Russia and China are Growing Closer Again
John W. Whitehead
Who Inflicts the Most Gun Violence in America? The U.S. Government and Its Police Forces
Justin Vest
ICE: You’re Not Welcome in the South
Jill Richardson
Race is a Social Construct, But It Still Matters
Dean Baker
The NYT Gets the Story on Automation and Inequality Completely Wrong
Nino Pagliccia
Venezuela Retains Political Control After New US Coercive Measures
Gary Leupp
MSNBC and the Next Election: Racism is the Issue (and Don’t Talk about Socialism)
R. G. Davis
Paul Krassner: Investigative Satirist
Negin Owliaei
Red State Rip Off: Cutting Worker Pay by $1.5 Billion
Christopher Brauchli
The Side of Trump We Rarely See
Curtis Johnson
The Unbroken Line: From Slavery to the El Paso Shooting
Jesse Jackson
End Endless War and Bring Peace to Korea
Adolf Alzuphar
Diary: What About a New City Center?
Tracey L. Rogers
Candidates Need a Moral Vision
Nicky Reid
I Was a Red Flag Kid
John Kendall Hawkins
The Sixties Victory Lap in an Empty Arena
Stephen Cooper
Tony Chin’s Unstoppable, Historic Career in Music
Charles R. Larson
Review: Bruno Latour’s Down to Earth: Politics in the New Climatic Regime
Elizabeth Keyes
Haiku Fighting
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail