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Impending Impeachment? A Scenario


Source: Luis Nassif

shāh māt” (شاه مات)

or, end games for 2014-2018 in the Unasur.

Could the Brazilian opposition be planning some sort of quasi-legal removal of Dilma Rouseff from the presidency? Think of the removal of the Paraguyan president and the weak apologetics of the OAS in legitimating that coup.

The talented musician and economist Luis Nassif has written a thorough-going Tom Clancy sit-rep on the sociological, political and economic factors.

Point 1 – The Climate of Heated Dispute

The media’s systematic campaign against corruption and what it calls Bolivarism worked well in inflaming public opinion. Its echoes in the Greater São Paulo Metropolitan area, in business associations, among the social globals are uncannily similar to the climate described by René Dreiffus in his book on the Coup of 1964.

Point 2 – The manipulation of Operation Car Wash.

The cover of Veja magazine – bearing false information about the statements of Car Wash key witness Alberto Yousseff – is proof positive that federal police Operation Car Wash will be made full political use of, with selective leaking and the spreading of rumors.

Point Three – The Intimidation of the STF

In a remark from his interview with the Folha de S. Paulo, Supreme Court justice Gilmar Mendes, warning of a “Bolivarization” of the Supreme Court (STF), fired the first rounds in a fresh attempt to intimidate the Judiciary, expecially the STF and the federal Attorney General.

Other publications have already gone so far as to pressure Teori Savazki. The canonization of Judge Sérgio Moro will also be used later on, no doubt.

The federal magistrate is lionized by the opposition for his conduct of money-laundering cases, and especially the Banestado case, whose investigation by Congress was never complete but whose political ramifications may still come to light in the congressional inquiry of Operation Carwash. Tijolaço:

This because the principal wheelings and dealings of Yousseff took place during the administrations of the PSDB. According to [investigative journalist] Amaury, a  CPI to investigate Yousseff or Petrobras would end up targeting Ricardo Sérgio de Oliveira, ex-Banco do Brasil and former JoséSerra campaign treasurer.

Between 1996 and 2002, 30 billion reais were transferred to CC5 accounts offshore. Yousseff is described as an eclectic professional. At one and the same time, he serviced high-ranking Toucans and hardcore drug traffickers such as Fernandinho Beira Mar and the numbers racketeer João Arcanjo Ribeiro, “The Commander,” a title conferred upon him by the state assembly of Mato Grosso do Sul.  During Carwash, the feds discovered heavyweight operators in the international drug trade.   descobriu doleiros financiando operações de alta envergadura no tráfico internacional.

Banestado was the principal go-between. As a result of a congressional inquiry, the CPI do Banestado, became known as the Banestado scandal, the final report, by José Mentor, called for the indictment of Gustavo Franco (PSDB), Celso Pitta (PSDB), and Samuel Klein of Casas Bahia, among 91 other names.


The fallacy of the heap

Assembling the Parts – The Strategy of Impeachment

It is practically unthinkable that Dilma ever participated in or was ever involved in any irregularity.

The Operation Car Wash investigation, on the other hand, will probably end up outing the entire political establishment.

Consider the database of scandals available on the Web site of the weekly Veja (above).

Arranged chronographically, its first page of results  lists only “corruption scandal” cases that occurred during the Lula regime (2003-2012) — which was responsible for releasing the hounds in the first place, as historical data on Federal Police actions shows (via Nassif).

Corruption related-cases Under Lula, from 2003 to mid-2014: 2.226.

Arrested 24,881, including: 2.351 civil servants and 119 federal police.

Number of corruption-related police operations during the 8 years of Cardoso: 48.

Number of federal courts before Lula took office: 100.

Number of federal courts after Lula took office: 513, each with a presiding judge and an alternate.

The infographic is an orgy of evidence — “the mountain of money” often used to illustrate corruption-themed stories — with no distinction between cases in terms of their seriousness or other criteria.  One scandal-driven story that deserves to top the list is the so-called “Furnas List,” AP 1,274/2000, in which  it appears that the president of the PSDB had laundered and distributed illicit cash to political allies, including payoffs in exchange for delivering the reelection vote.

There is no before Lula and after Lula in this state of things: the results speak for themselves. Whether Operation Car Wash will be waxed and polished for public display it will be interesting to see.

Also politically risky will be to minimize a money-laundering scheme involving many of the players in AP 470 with money-laundering by the president of the PSDB in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Accounting documents showed tens of thousands of reais distributed to hundreds of candidates.

Back in the present day, black market currency dealer Alberto Yousseff allegedly worked for nearly all of the parties involved.

In a climate of heated emotions, however, any factoid that appears on the newsstands will be believed – as the Veja case shows. For this to happen, however, there have to be a Supreme Court and Attorney General that are intimidated by the clamor of the media.

Defining the Strategy

A legalist strategy for an impeachment campaign will have to emerge from a detailed analysis of the principle pieces on the table.

The marketplace of public opinion —

In general, public opinion can be divided into two sub-markets: the market of the establishment and the market of the newly empowered.

Simply put, the establishment sub-market comprises the judiciary, the military establishment, the Public Ministry (Attorney General), the business class and the middle class in general. This market is strongly influenced by media organizations with which it shares common values and sentimental bonds.

At the moment, the most powerful tendency in these sectors is enraged opposition to the Workers Party.

The marketplace of the newly empowered, meanwhile, comprises traditional popular movements, such as labor unions and long-lived leftist political parties, …

In different times, it was a marketplace through which information was available only through the unions, churches, and protestant assemblies.

Today, of course, everything is highly digital, but no more hegemonic for being so.

In all the great historic movements of inclusion – from the U.S. of the XIXth Century to modern-day Brazil – this paradox has sparked political crises: the (newly) included have the vote but the establishment retains the power.

But there is a third sector in the marketplace of the establishment, comprising public figures who defend legalism and the social responsibilities of the State and str contrary to radicalization and illegal appropriation of State power. This is the so-called enlightened elite and have become something of a rare bird in politically backward nations.
The struggle to resist attempts at impeachment must take place in the marketplace of the establishment, where an alliance must be forged with prominent legalists.

Any militant reaction will only increase the Bolivarization Effect.

Dramatis Personae

The contours of the game grow clearer as we pass the principal figures of the establishment under a microscope.

There are two types of person.

In the first group, the irreconcilable enemies of the government: The PSDB and media and information groups, as we will discover below.

In the second group, the public institutions whose support will be sought and who will decide the game of impeachment: The judiciary (STF and PGR), the Congress, and other sectors, such as magistrates, business leaders, and influential voices of civil society.

The PSDB has been unable to define an alternate project of power.

Its discourse is monotonously anti-PT.

Its think thank, the Instituto Teotônio Vilella, carries no weight.

Toucan intellectuals have either given up on the party in general, or else have given up on the new generation, returning to a hate-driven strategy underwritten by the media groups.

No visible force has yet emerged with the ability to promote the aggiornamento needed to make the PSDB an effective party, with positive proposals beyond the anti-PT cause and other jeremiads.

Aécio’s triumphal return to the Senate on the Monday following the elections is proof that the only way for him to build upon the visibility and financial support accumulated during the last elections will be through a series of triumphal events. And he can only achieve this as part of an alliance with the major media groups. The fading of José Serra from the scene is a symptom that there has already occurred a rational division of labor.
These circumstances inevitably push the PSDB toward risking the impeachment option – this time without tanks, of course.

Media Groups

During the Vargas years — between the 1940s and the fall of Jango – what angered traditional groups the most was Getúlio’s attempts to mobilize business allies to enter the fold.

During the Jango government, the news media grew more radical when new groups tried to enter the media market: Wallace Simonsen of TV Excelsior, or Santos Vahlis (a Venezuelan businessman from the real estate sector, with ties to Leonel Brizola who tried to buy a daily newspaper in Rio).

During the renewal of democracy, the first cable TV and UHF broadcasts were occurring. Through Antônio Carlos Magalhães, Sarney negotiated with various media groups, rewarding them with broadcast concessions or telephone listings. Fernando Collor, on the other hand, refused to give in to these requests and threatened to establish his own network, based on the CNT of the Martinez brothers.

  • One served out his mandate, the other did not. Guess.Collor, now a senator from Alagoas, continues to thunder on about this original sin of the native media.Now, with the Internet, TV is less relevant with every day that passes. The print media is on its way out before a number of media groups have succeeded in staking out a claim in this new market.

Under current circumstances, with the advertising market breaking up and targeting the internet, the situation is as follows:

Estadão (except for the Agência Estado) and Editora Abril have missed the bus – which explains the “all or nothing” conduct of Fábio Barbosa as editor-in-chief of Veja.

Globo remains powerful, but will never recover the absolute power it wielded prior to the Internet.

The Folha de  S. Paulo was saved by the Universo Online (UOL) portal. The Folha, however, maintains its political influence in competition with international groups much more powerful than it in the sector of global Internet services.

  1. The remaining number of broadcast TV stations is minuscule. These will die out slowly, together with over-the-air TV.In crisis mode, the media groups will have to live with the overpowering growth of the Internet, with foreign groups invading the market and with proposals for regulation of the sector that have become all but inevitable in developed nations. Google is already the second-largest seller of advertising in Brazil, without producing a single piece of journalism for the market.This is the main reason that the Brazilian media cannot accept any political armistice.

Either they regain their power and try to row the ship of state against the tide or they will be blown off the map by the winds of modernity.


There is a visible relationship of ill-will between the judiciary – including the MPF – and the Workers Party with Dilma at the helm. The loose-cannon informant in the Car Wash case, Paulo Roberto Costa, has exacerbate this resistance, which will grow even further to the extent that affidavits and other evidence is leaked and the trial by media begins.

If, on the one hand, Operation Carwash has an explosive potential far beyond that of AP 470 — the «monthly payola of the PT» on the other hand we have a more legalist STF and PGR that are better prepared to confront media attacks.

It was the OAB (Brazilian bar association), after all, who rose above the dirty tactics of the former Chief Justice during AP 470.

Gilmar Mendes has always served as a de facto leading figure among the members of the court due to his legal knowledge, his political malice and his vicious aggression.

The naming of Teori Savaski and Luís Roberto Barroso to the court has inverted these roles. There is now a correlation of forces that favors the legalism of Ricardo Lewandowski and pushes Celso de Mello back toward the center.

The abuse heaped on Ricardo Levandowski and, later, on Celso de Mello, by the news media, and the  persecutory excesses of Joaquim Barbosa led to intense debates and to the breeding of antibodies, such as the demonstration of judges of all ranks and specialities who, in the wake of the “monthly payola” case spoke out publically for defense of individual rights – from Celso Antônio Bandeira de Mello to Yves Gandra da Silva Martins and Cláudio Lembo.

In the end, the PGR, thoroughly bullied by the media blitz, emerged as an institution with a stronger professional profile, no longer a slave to  the official line but without suffering intimidation.

End Game

This is how, through endless repetition, the Gilmar-media scheme has eroded its own position in the game, in fact: Gilmar Mendes creates spectacular factoids. Remember the famous Veja cover exclusive that the “STF is bugged” — or the “the damning confession with no hard copy,” or Mendes and his hostile cross-talk with Lula.

The media groups direct their people to echo and amplify these factoids and generate a clamor of the mob.

This clamor was used as a tool with which Gilmar could impress his skeptical colleagues (like Celso de Mello) and pressure those who resisted.

It is very different to imagine how media groups will dare continue to attack Supreme Court justices as they did during the “monthly payola” case, however.

But bear in mind that the seeds planted against the PT have born fruit. And the potential carnage of Operation Car Wash is an unknown quantity at this point.


The idea that the business class conspires together is not completely true.

Major business groups that deal with the State are used to negotiating with the government in power at the moment.  Some begin to conspire only when they sense the imminent fall of the current ruler. The rest seek only a favorable, predictable business climate.


It is not that difficult to assemble a majority in the Congress. The real work, however, is overcoming budget restrictions, the fragmentation of political parties, and the  Eduardo Cunha effect.  Eduardo Cunha is a target of five corruption investigations who has succeeded in cementing his political allies in the rottenest corners of the house. Cunha is a detailed portrait of the hypocritical moralism of the major media groups.

The strategy of the coup will consist of scandal-mongering, inciting the media to riot with intense, scandalous coverage of the proceedings and pressures on the legislative and judiciary.

In the Supreme Court, the body is dominated by an alliance of convenience of five justices – Joaquim Barbosa, Gilmar Mendes, Luiz Fux, Marco Aurélio de Mello and Celso de Mello.

Here are some strategies to undermine this tactic.

  1. Pay close attention to GDP growth and inflation.At that time, there were some differences from the current moment:
  2. Improved management of the economy and a change in the centralizing style of Dilma. Report on the success of those responsible for the Accelerate Growth Policy (PAC), the pre-salt oil reserves, and the qualifications of would-be Ministers on the whole.
  3. Proceed with caution in potentially scandalous circumstances, and especially with the superfunds conceded by the national development bank (BNDES), which have caused a lot of friction with the business community of São Paulo.
  4. Changes in the foreign office that improve its relations with the Congress.
  5. Nominate new justices of a technical and legalist orientation and a similar Attorney General.
  6. The economy was not in bad shape
  7. The STF was much less able to withstand pressure from media groups
  8. The RDC (Direct Contracting Regime) seemed as though it would cause problems. It did not.

And neither did the Lei dos Portos (Law of the Ports), regulating the shipping business.


  1. Operation Carwash is potentially much more explosive than AP 470. Its developments should be closely watched.
  2. The radicalization of recent years has strengthened the power of media groups to incite public opinion to riot.
  3. Brazil has economic problems and must soon confront unemployment and social costs.
  4. The Congress will be more hostile due to the polarization of the parties, a tightened belt for attending to political demands, and the scandals of recent years, which have seriously eroded the public’s patience with partisan appointments and deal-making …
  5. The game will pit the Dilma government, on one hand, against the PSDB and various media groups on the other. Both sides will court the same actors– business figures, politicians, the middle class, intellectuals and social movements.

Another development in the Manichaean struggle: Portuguese as an important foreign language venue for business news and information. You can read Pravda in Portuguese and ElPais (Spain) in, too.