One month in power, Brazil’s interim gov’t wading across uncharted waters

One month in power, Brazil’s interim gov’t wading across uncharted waters

A flurry of gaffes, policy missteps and scandals has buffeted Brazil’s month-long interim government, weakening temporary head of state Michel Temer in his struggle to stay on.

Temer, 75 years old, was vice president until May 12 when he took over from Dilma Rousseff who was suspended to face an impeachment trial on charges of taking unauthorized loans to patch budget holes.

In the most deadly blow so far, Attorney General Rodrigo Janot is seeking the arrests of former president Jose Sarney, former planning minister and current Senator Romero Juca, lower house Speaker Eduardo Cunha and Senate head Renan Calheiros, for obstruction of corruption probe, according to local reports.

A little bit earlier, Temer dropped from his cabinet Romero Juca, a key figure in getting austerity measures approved by Congress, and the minister in charge of fighting corruption, Fabiano Silveira, after leaked recordings suggested they had tried to derail the investigation centered on state oil company Petrobras.

(Soundbite) Chen Weihua, Xinhua Chief Reporter in Rio
“There is a Chinese saying: all procedures should be strictly observed when you rule a big country, the same as cooking a delicious dish. Brazil has its own procedures, which are much more sophisticated than Temer can imagine. All the politicians falling down belong to Temer’s party, which no doubt deals a blow to his government.”

Besides for the cabinet turmoil, Temer faces a mixed start in the economic field.

For two years, the largest economy in Latin America has been mired in its worst recession since the 1930s, currently with 11 million unemployed and inflation running over 9 percent.

Temer’s government is believed to shift towards more market-friendly policies, and Congress has signaled willingness to approve tough measures to control spending in order to cover a fiscal deficit that could top 10 percent of GDP.

Meanwhile, the government looks determined to reform the generous pension system, the biggest item weighing on the official accounts.

(Soundbite) Chen Weihua, Xinhua Chief Reporter in Rio
“In the serious situation of recession, financial shortage and low employment rate, Brazil needs an economic reform, with controlling public expenditures as the priority topic.”

Another thing can’t be neglected is the Olympic Games to be inaugurated in Rio on August 5, the first in Latin America, which are prepared on all fronts but still short of satisfaction.
Meanwhile, Brazil is obsessed with the outbreak of Zika, the mosquito-borne virus that’s has been linked to a surge in the birth defect known as microcephaly.

The cases of people infected with Zika virus in Rio have dropped significantly in recent weeks and will be close to zero in August and September when the Olympic and Paralymic Games are held, Olympic health officials promised.

(Soundbite) Chen Weihua, Xinhua Chief Reporter in Rio
“Temer convened some of his cabinet members to discuss the preparation for the Olympic and Paralymic Games. The government has shown full support for the Games, because they think that the success of the Games equals that of the government.”

To make things worse, Rousseff’s impeachment trial will run into Rio Olympics, according to the original calendar which sets August 16 as the deadline for ending the trial.

The impeachment has become an election between Rousseff and Temer, or their parties.

Earlier this week, the first major sampling of public opinion since Rousseff’s suspension, the CNT/MDA poll, showed that only 11.3 percent of Brazilians approve of the interim government, while 28 percent disapprove.

In addition, 50.3 percent of Brazilians favor holding new elections this year to resolve the political crisis, with 20 percent thinking that two-time president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva should take over the rein of their ravaged country.

Rousseff said on June 9 that she will call for an early election if she survives the impeachment.

Leave a Comment