New Political Earthquake in Brazil: Is It Now Time for Media Outlets to Call This a “Coup”?

Tony Gosling tony at
Thu Jun 2 12:34:42 BST 2016

New Political Earthquake in Brazil: Is It Now 
Time for Media Outlets to Call This a “Coup”?
Glenn Greenwald

Andrew Fishman David Miranda
May 23 2016, 3:31 p.m.
(Para ler a versão desse artigo em Português, clique aqui.)

BRAZIL TODAY AWOKE to stunning news of secret, 
genuinely shocking conversations involving a key 
minister in Brazil’s newly installed government, 
which shine a bright light on the actual motives 
and participants driving the impeachment of the 
country’s democratically elected president, Dilma 
Rousseff. The transcripts were published by the 
country’s largest newspaper, Folha de São Paulo, 
and reveal secret conversations that took place 
in March, just weeks before the impeachment vote 
in the lower house was held. They show explicit 
plotting between the new planning minister 
(then-senator), Romero Jucá, and former oil 
executive Sergio Machado — both of whom are 
formal targets of the “Car Wash” corruption 
investigation — as they agree that removing Dilma 
is the only means for ending the corruption 
investigation. The conversations also include 
discussions of the important role played in 
Dilma’s removal by the most powerful national 
institutions, including — most importantly — Brazil’s military leaders.

The transcripts are filled with profoundly 
incriminating statements about the real goals of 
impeachment and who was behind it. The crux of 
this plot is what Jucá calls “a national pact” — 
involving all of Brazil’s most powerful 
institutions — to leave Michel Temer in place as 
president (notwithstanding his multiple 
corruption scandals) and to kill the corruption 
investigation once Dilma is removed. In the words 
of Folha, Jucá made clear that impeachment will 
“end the pressure from the media and other 
sectors to continue the Car Wash investigation.” 
Jucá is the leader of Temer’s PMDB party and one 
of the “interim president’s” three closest confidants.

It is unclear who is responsible for recording 
and leaking the 75-minute conversation, but Folha 
reports that the files are currently in the hand 
of the prosecutor general. The next few hours and 
days will likely see new revelations that will 
shed additional light on the implications and meaning of these transcripts.

The transcripts contain two extraordinary 
revelations that should lead all media outlets to 
seriously consider whether they should call what 
took place in Brazil a “coup”: a term Dilma and 
her supporters have used for months. When 
discussing the plot to remove Dilma as a means of 
ending the Car Wash investigation, Jucá said the 
Brazilian military is supporting the plot: “I am 
talking to the generals, the military commanders. 
They are fine with this, they said they will 
guarantee it.” He also said the military is 
“monitoring the Landless Workers Movement” 
(Movimento dos Trabalhadores Rurais Sem Terra, or 
MST), the social movement of rural workers that 
supports PT’s efforts of land reform and 
inequality reduction and has led the protests against impeachment.

The second blockbuster revelation — perhaps even 
more significant — is Jucá’s statement that he 
spoke with and secured the involvement of 
numerous justices on Brazil’s Supreme Court, the 
institution that impeachment defenders have 
repeatedly pointed to as vesting the process with 
legitimacy in order to deny that Dilma’s removal 
is a coup. Jucá claimed that “there are only a 
small number” of Court justices to whom he had 
not obtained access (the only justice he said he 
ultimately could not get to is Teori Zavascki, 
who was appointed by Dilma and who — notably — 
Jucá viewed as incorruptible in obtaining his 
help to kill the investigation (a central irony 
of impeachment is that Dilma has protected the 
Car Wash investigation from interference by those 
who want to impeach her)). The transcripts also 
show him saying that “the press wants to take her 
[Dilma] out,” so “this shit will never stop” — 
meaning the corruption investigations — until she’s gone.

The transcripts provide proof for virtually every 
suspicion and accusation impeachment opponents 
have long expressed about those plotting to 
remove Dilma from office. For months, supporters 
of Brazil’s democracy have made two arguments 
about the attempt to remove the country’s 
democratically elected president: (1) the core 
purpose of Dilma’s impeachment is not to stop 
corruption or punish lawbreaking, but rather the 
exact opposite: to protect the actual thieves by 
empowering them with Dilma’s exit, thus enabling 
them to kill the Car Wash investigation; and (2) 
the impeachment advocates (led by the country’s 
oligarchical media) have zero interest in clean 
government, but only in seizing power that they 
could never obtain democratically, in order to 
impose a right-wing, oligarch-serving agenda that 
the Brazilian population would never accept.

Brazil's interim President Michel Temer  during a 
meeting with unionists at the Planalto Palace, in 
Brasilia, Brazil, on May 16, 2016. Photo: Andre 
Dusek/Estadao Conteudo. (Agencia Estado via AP 
Images) Photo: Andre Dusek/APThe first two weeks 
of Temer’s newly installed government provided 
abundant evidence for both of these claims. He 
appointed multiple ministers directly implicated 
in corruption scandals. A key ally in the lower 
house who will lead his government’s coalition 
there — André Moura — is one of the most corrupt 
politicians in the country, the target of 
multiple, active criminal probes not only for 
corruption but also attempted homicide. Temer 
himself is deeply enmeshed in corruption (he 
faces an eight-year ban on running for any 
office) and is rushing to implement a series of 
radical right-wing changes that Brazilians would 
never democratically allow, including measures, 
as The Guardian detailed, “to soften the 
definition of slavery, roll back the demarcation 
of indigenous land, trim housebuilding programs 
and sell off state assets in airports, utilities and the post office.”
But, unlike the events of the last two weeks, 
these transcripts are not merely clues or signs. 
They are proof: proof that the prime forces 
behind the removal of the president understood 
that taking her out was the only way to save 
themselves and shield their own extreme 
corruption from accountability; proof that 
Brazil’s military, its dominant media outlets, 
and its Supreme Court were colluding in secret to 
ensure the removal of the democratically elected 
president; proof that the perpetrators of 
impeachment viewed Dilma’s continued presence in 
Brasilia as the guarantor that the Car Wash 
investigations would continue; proof that this 
had nothing to do with preserving Brazilian 
democracy and everything to do with destroying it.

For his part, Jucá admits that these transcripts 
are authentic but insists it was all just a 
misunderstanding with his comments taken out of 
context, calling it “banal.” “That conversation 
is not about a pact for Car Wash. It’s about the 
economy, to extricate Brazil from the crisis,” he 
claimed in an interview this morning with UOL 
political blogger Fernando Rodrigues. That 
explanation is entirely implausible given what he 
actually said, as well as the explicitly 
conspiratorial nature of the conversations, in 
which Jucá insists on a series of one-on-one 
encounters, rather than meeting in a group, all 
to avoid provoking suspicions. Political leaders 
are already calling for his resignation from the government.

Ever since Temer’s installation as president, 
Brazil has seen intense, and growing, protests 
against him. Brazilian media outlets — which have 
been desperately trying to glorify him — have 
suspiciously refrained from publishing polling 
data for many weeks, but the last polls show him 
with only 2 percent support and 60 percent 
wanting him impeached. The only recent published 
polling data showed that 66 percent of Brazilians 
believe legislators voted for impeachment only 
out of self-interest — a belief these transcripts 
validate — while only 23 percent believe they did 
so for the good of the country. Last night in São 
Paulo, police were forced to barricade the street 
where Temer’s house is located due to thousands 
of protesters heading there; they eventually used 
fire hoses and tear gas. An announcement to close 
the Ministry of Culture led to artists and others 
occupying offices around the country in protest, 
which forced Temer to reverse the decision.

Until now, The Intercept, like most international 
media outlets, has refrained from using the word 
“coup” even as it (along with most outlets) has 
been deeply critical of Dilma’s removal as 
anti-democratic. These transcripts compel a 
re-examination of that editorial decision, 
particularly if no evidence emerges calling into 
question either the most reasonable meaning of 
Jucá’s statements or his level of knowledge. This 
newly revealed plotting is exactly what a coup 
looks, sounds, and smells like: securing the 
cooperation of the military and most powerful 
institutions to remove a democratically elected 
leader for self-interested, corrupt, and lawless 
motives, in order to then impose an 
oligarch-serving agenda that the population despises.

If Dilma’s impeachment remains inevitable, as 
many believe, these transcripts will make it much 
more difficult to leave Temer in place. Recent 
polling data shows that 62 percent of Brazilians 
want new elections to select their president. 
That option — the democratic one — is the one 
Brazil’s elites fear most, because they are 
petrified (with good reason) that Lula or another 
candidate they dislike (Marina Silva) will win. 
But that’s the point: If what is being avoided 
and smashed in Brazil is democracy, then it’s 
time to start using the proper language to 
describe this. These transcripts make it 
increasingly difficult for media outlets to avoid doing so.


WATCH: First Interview With Brazil’s President 
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Brazil Is Engulfed by Ruling Class Corruption — 
and a Dangerous Subversion of Democracy
Globo’s Billionaire Heir, João Roberto Marinho, 
Attacked Me in the Guardian. Here’s My Response.
After Vote to Remove Brazil’s President, Key 
Opposition Figure Holds Meetings in Washington

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