Brazil’s Rousseff likens impeachment to ‘coup,’ vows to fight back

Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff. © Ueslei Marcelino
Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff said the ongoing impeachment process against her has “all the characteristics of a coup.” She vowed to fight the charges and says that the process will have “serious consequences for the Brazilian political process.”

Speaking to reporters in New York on Friday, Rousseff asserted she was innocent of any wrongdoing and stressed that there was no “legal foundation” to try and ouster her from power. 

"There is no judicial basis for this process of impeachment," Rousseff said. "I am not accused of crimes of corruption, diversion of public funds, nor do I have accounts abroad or any accusations of money laundering."

The Brazilian president said she is “a victim of a plot” and pledged to fight back, adding that she not let Brazil become a country “where democratic rule is broken.”

She blamed the impeachment attempt on corrupt politicians, aggressive media and disappointing economic growth. “Any country will face moments of growth, moments of contraction of growth,” she said.

The president warned that the impeachment would have “serious consequences for the Brazilian political process.”

Moreover, she threatened to invoke a special clause with the South American trade bloc Mercosur, which would suspend a member country if a democratically elected government is overthrown, as happened to Paraguay in 2012.

During her UN speech earlier in the day, Rousseff had avoided using the word “coup” and used a much softer tone.

On Sunday, a majority in the lower house of Brazil’s Congress voted to impeach Rousseff. The vote came as hundreds of thousands of Dilma’s opponents and supporters were rallying across the country.

She has been accused of using dubious accounting tricks to fund various welfare and other government programs before the last elections in 2014, which saw her re-elected. She has gone to great lengths to fight the charges, saying that these tactics are used not just in Brazil, but in a number of countries around the world.

“There’s no solid evidence anywhere Rousseff committed a “crime of responsibility”; she did what every American President since Reagan has done – not to mention leaders all across the world: along with her vice-president, the lowly Brutus, Rousseff got slightly creative with the federal budget’s numbers,” Pepe Escobar, an independent geo-political analyst told RT.

In line with Brazilian law, if the Senate votes to accept the impeachment, then a Senate trial would begin and Vice President Michel Temer will replace Rousseff for up to 180 days. In case the trial finds Rousseff guilty then Temer will succeed her.

However, the government is confident that the Senate will dismiss the impeachment, according to the presidential chief of staff Jaques Wagner, who rejected the vote as “orchestrated” by Rousseff’s opponents who never accepted her re-election.

Congressman Jose Carlos Aleluia, who watched her speech at the UN, said he is confident that the impeachment will go-ahead saying there will be no “setbacks.” He was sent to New York by lower house Speaker Eduardo Cunha, who is a major critic of the Brazilian leader.

"The accusations against the President are very serious. Her actions led to economic chaos, besides violating the Constitution," Cunha's office said in a statement.

There are questions regarding the integrity of Cunha, who was reported to have several illegal accounts in Switzerland, while he was listed in the Panama Papers and is currently being investigated by the Supreme Court.