After Brazil impeached its first female president, Dilma Rousseff, her lawyer, former attorney general Jose Eduardo Cardozo, feels tired, sad and overwhelmed.
“What she did is not illegal,” he said. “The Congress never complained about it [before].”
Rousseff was accused of breaking fiscal responsibility laws in her management of the federal budget. Specifically, her administration used state-run banks and funds to pay for some of the government’s regular payments which were then repaid, a budgetary trick so common it has a nickname: A “pedalada,” or pedalling.
“Previous presidents Fernando Henrique Cardoso and Lula used similar accounting techniques,” Cardozo noted, adding that the push to remove Rousseff amounted to a “parliamentary coup” by elites furious over the populist polices of her Workers’ Party, which has held power the last 13 years.
On Wednesday, she was officially removed from office and her vice president, Michel Temer, was sworn in as her replacement for the remainder of her term.
According to Cardozo, Rousseff was scapegoated because she was “challenging the interests of those powerful people who wanted to take Brazil in a different direction,” and because “she promoted investigations into corruption.”