The Fall From Grace of Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff (#5)
Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff was probably no more or less corrupt than all the previous Brazilian Presidents, perhaps a bit less than some.
Apparently, some of the current Parliamentarians that have pushed and voted for the impeachment of Dilma Rousseff have worse charges of corruption against them, and it is commonly held that corruption is endemic to Brazilian politics and society as a matter of course anyway. So how is it that in a recognized corrupt system, this President is being impeached?
Well, her ill-fortunes started with the timing of her being elected the President in 2011.
Unfortunately for her, she became the President of the Country at the same time that China's economy, already slowing down, contracted further and significantly curtailed its raw material purchases of iron ore, oil, aluminum, rice and soya, from Brazil.
The insatiable appetite of China for Brazilian resources, and the cash that flowed from that, had allowed Dilma's mentor and predecessor, former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, to lavish government money and benefits, like rich pension plans, better wages, and subsidies on common necessities, on the public, whereby winning great popularity, while lifting an estimated 40 million out of poverty.
But upon Dilma taking control, the economic downturn got steadily worse, and the good times were over. The public largess that Dilma's predecessor Lula had been showering the public with had to stop, because the money just wasn't there anymore.
Well, the Brazilian people had gotten used to the all the government goodies and were in no mood for them to be stopped. Dilma after several half-hearted attempts at austerity gave up, and once again tried to quell the discontent and woo the people back with continuing government largess. Soon the budget was in a shambles and the accounting and financial engineering, to make it seem reasonable, began in earnest.
She narrowly won the second term on that basis, but in doing so further destroyed the economy.
Dilma tried to continue the government spending, but with revenues dropping so dramatically, the largess was not sustainable, and the public got increasingly frustrated with the increasing deterioration in economic and personal conditions.
Dilma's inability and reluctance to reign-in costs, dramatically, for fear of public back lash, made the economic spiral deepen and start to spin out of control.
In the midst of it all, the uncovering of the massive corruption scandal at Brazil's largest national oil company, Petrobras, that was being used as the Government's personal ATM machine, with Dilma's full participation, became the lightening rod for an increasingly frustrated and outraged public. That was the start of her downfall.
In addition, what seemed to have sealed it for her was her abrasive and autocratic personality. Sure of herself, and her reputation of being an extremely competent and hard working technocrat, she ignored and alienated those in her own government, and those in opposition. Not bothering to listen or build bridges, when things started to get from bad to worse, she had developed precious few allies and instead created lots of enemies.
When she got targeted, she needed allies to help protect her, but most turned away from her and joined the opposition to provide a scapegoat to the incensed public and the system, and basically crucified her.
In a nut shell, this is how, in a corrupt country, where, as she rightfully claimed, that she had only done what every President had been doing before her, and where most every politician is corrupt, she still ended up being accused of corruption and suspended as a sitting President (the first in Brazil's history).
Dilma Rousseff was a victim of global economic conditions, the fall of China, her own personality and self-confidence (hubris?), opportunistic and cynical politicians, and colleagues, and long simmering public anger and frustration that needed a target.
While her trial will determine how guilty Dilma is, still it is too bad as to what happened to her, even though it was in many respects her own fault. Dilma Rousseff had a storied life, a privileged young fervent Marxist revolutionary, organizer and agitator, that had fought against the military juntas that ruled Brazil. She was captured, tortured, imprisoned, and upon release became increasingly engaged in political activity, and rose to the top based on her determination, hard work, and reputation as an extremely competent technocrat. She ultimately become the President of Brazil. The first woman President of Brazil.
The climb was long, hard, tortuous, but took her to the absolute top. The fall from grace has been brutal and short, and could very well destroy her lifetime's work and legacy.