Remarks by President Dilma Rousseff to News Media After the Vote Approving the Impeachment Process

Translation by Toritilla con Sal
19 de abril 2016

Remarks by President Dilma Rousseff to news media after the vote approving the impeachment process in the Brazilian legislature’s lower house.

Translation from Spanish over-dubbing of President Rousseff’s remarks in this Telesur video

“They accuse someone of something, firstly, that is not a crime and secondly they make the accusation, but then no one talks about what the accusation or problem amounts to. All last night I watched the speeches that were made and I saw no discussion of the crime of responsibility which is the only way to judge a President in the Republic of Brazil. That’s what the Constitution contemplates. The constitution contemplates that a political trial can happen. That’s true and we have to recognize that is how it’s written. but at the same time the Constitution stipulates too that it is necessary for a crime of responsibility to exist before someone can be accused or made to abandon the post of President of the Republic, after having received the votes of something over half the population.

I received 54 million votes and I feel indignant with regard to the decision about the admissibility of this political trial. And I want to insist on this even though it may seem that I am insisting on the same key note, but it is a very important keynote, that of democracy. I insist there is no crime of responsibility. The acts for which I am being accused were previously carried out by other Presidents of the Republic before me. But they were not classified as illegal or criminal acts. Back then they were considered acts that were legal. For that reason, when I say I am indignant and that I feel this is an injustice, it’s because they are treating me in a way they did not treat people before.

Those acts of which they accuse me were also practiced on the basis of technical precedents. And that gives me good cause for suspicion. Because they were no acts carried out to enrich myself incorrectly. So I feel unperturbed on this matter of the acts committed. My conscience is clear because I committed those acts and they were deeds that all the Presidents of the Republic have also done during their period in office. And when a President carries out those administrative actions they do so on the basis of a chain of decisions and that chain of decision implies technical facts, legal analysis and, based on that, the President signs off on those actions. So that was my opinion prior to signing those actions and later it was the opinion of all the lawyers with whom we consulted. So in that regard I feel my conscience is clear in relation to the actions I took, I definitely have a clear conscience on that. I didn’t take them illegally or on the basis of some illegal procedure.

But the worst is that I am sure they know this is true. Everyone knows that it’s true. Furthermore, it is very interesting because there is no accusation against me of diversion of public funds. There is no accusation of illegal enrichment on my part. They have not accused me of having bank accounts overseas. That is why I feel it is an injustice. I think it is an injustice because those people who have indeed committed illegal acts and who have bank accounts overseas are presiding over a session which is considering a matter as serious as the political trial of a President of the Republic.

And I want to tell you all that I think it is an injustice too for another reason. Because for the last 15 months I have not been able to govern in a stable political climate. You can see how they have practiced against me systematically a whole range of tactics or strategies, each one worse than its predecessor, as tactics against the government and of course favorable to the opposition. So, for example they sent five guidelines in the framework of fiscal problems and thus they made government action impossible. Those guidelines added up to what they are doing now, namely a project of legislative decree. They transformed corrections of debt at the State level into corrections based on simple payments to generate interest on the country’s finances amounting to 300 millones reales.

These guidelines that consist of systematically refusing to ever say what the government does well but instead systematically underlining all the mistakes we may have made. We know too, as we have always known, that we have important projects in order for Brazil can return more rapidly to growth that are necessary to carry out. And what they did was to delay or vote against those projects, which in itself damaged the country. So what I want to tell you is that this is a situation that can only result in what I have already said, namely a strong feeling of injustice and, secondly, a feeling that there is in Brazil a violation of the truth, of democracy, against the democratic rule of law. I think this is very bad for Brazil. The world cannot but see that our young democracy faces a trial of such low quality. It is of low quality mainly because we are talking about accusing the President of the Republic and if possible condemning the President of the Republic even thought they are blameless. So then it’s possible that it can be done too against ordinary citizens, let alone the President of the Republic. What now cannot be done to the Brazilian citizens who are in fact the truly great protagonists of the history of democracy?

I want to remind you how this trial has come about. And I want to explain why I think it is unjust. First, you yourselves, each one of you, all the newspapers and news outlets at the start, when the opening of the political trial was accepted, the reasons used to justify acceptance of the opening of the process were baseless. They were accepted then as a kind of revenge because we refused to negotiate votes within the Ethical Commission. Let’s remember that. I have to remind you news media of this. In our defense we only presented what the news media had themselves already reported. I want to tell you now that in this second moment, in this second phase of this process, I feel very indignant because the face or the image transmitted to the world is the face of a bypass of power, an image of abuse of power, of a lack of commitment to the institutions and to moral and ethical practices generally.

I want to tell you that I have always fought for democracy. I believe in democracy. I have always fought for democracy and I will go on fighting for democracy. In the past when I was young I stood up to the dictatorship out of my convictions and now I am standing up to this problem out of my convictions. I am standing up to this coup d’état out of my convictions. It is not the traditional coup that happened when I was young but sadly it is a coup and I am facing it now when I am a mature adult. It is a coup in which use is made of a superficially legal and democratic process to carry out what is perhaps the most abominable of the crimes that can be committed against any person, namely, the injustice of condemning an innocent person.

I am sure no government can be legitimate, can be a government in which the people can recognize itself as a product of democracy by means of a secret direct vote carried out as a result of a previously convened electoral process in which all Brazilian citizens can participate. You cannot describe as a political trial what in fact is an attempt at a circumvention of elections by those who want to get power but don’t have the votes to achieve it. I also think it’s important to recognize that it is extremely unusual and strange but also quite horrible that a Vice President in the exercise of his post openly conspires against the President of the Republic. In no country in the world can anyone capable of doing this can be respected because in human society no one likes traitors. Why not? Because each one of us also know the pain and injustice that one feels on witnessing a betrayal.

So I want to say to you, by way of finishing these remarks before going on to take questions, the world and history are observing each one of the actions we carry out at this moment. We all know this, all of us who have lived through difficult times, which are also historic but also really difficult times. History is present and that is why I say to you that not just the world but history too is watching. I feel encouraged. I feel strong and with sufficient courage to stand up to whatever may be coming although I also feel sad and I think it is unjust, but I have strength, belief and courage. I am not going to feel demoralized and I’m not going to feel paralyzed by this. I’m going to fight and fight just as I have all my life, all through my life. And I started in a time when it was very difficult to fight, the time of an open and terrible dictatorship, a dictatorship that tortured you physically, killing, taking the lives of people who were our comrades. Now I live in a kind of democracy that one way or another tortures our dreams, tortures our rights, but they are not going to kill the hope I have in me because I know that democracy is always on the right side of history which is what I have been taught by my country’s history. Millions of people throughout the life of my generation and my own life struggled to achieve democracy.

For that reason you can be sure that I too will do the same, keep on fighting and standing up to this whole process. I am going to participate, defend myself in the Senate. I am sure that we will have the chance to defend ourselves in the Senate. And I also want to tell you that contrary to what many people have said, this is not the beginning of the end. We have barely even begun this fight, which will be long and take a while and is not exclusively a fight involving my presidential mandate. And this is very important for democracy. My mandate is not just mine but also that of 54 million voters who supported me. This is a fight of all Brazilians including those who oppose my government or perhaps do not support it. It’s a struggle for democracy in our country. Without democracy there won’t be nor can there ever be democratic economic growth because without democracy there is no capacity for everyone to engage in growth, have employment, enjoy social security, all those policies that we developed over the last few years, housing policies, education policies. That is why democracy will always be on the right side of history.”