By Colin Hallinan and cross-posted from Counterpunch.org
On one level, the impeachment of Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff seems like vintage commedia dell’arte.
For instance, the lower house speaker who brought the charges, Eduardo Cunha, had to step down because he has $16 million stashed in secret Swiss and U.S. bank accounts. The man who replaced Cunha, Waldir Maranhao, is implicated in the corruption scandal around the huge state-owned oil company, Petrobras.
The former vice-president and now interim president, Michel Temer, has been convicted of election fraud, and has also been caught up in the Petrobras investigation. So is Senate president Renan Calheiros, who’s also dodging tax evasion charges.
In fact, over half the legislature is currently under investigation for corruption of some kind.
But there’s nothing comedic about what the fall of Rousseff and her left-leaning Workers Party will mean for the 35 million Brazilians who’ve been lifted out of poverty over the past decade, or for the 40 million newly minted members of the middle class — that’s one-fifth of Brazil’s 200 million people.
While it was the current downturn in the world’s seventh largest economy that helped light the impeachment fuse, the crisis is rooted in the nature of Brazil’s elites, its deeply flawed political institutions, and the not-so-dead hand of its 1964-1985 military dictatorship…