By Pepe Escobar
Brazilian creativity knows no bounds. A popular, viral neologism perfectly defines what is going on in the 7th largest economy in the world: golpeachment – a mix of coup («golpe», in Portuguese) and impeachment, as applied to the current institutional circus farce thoroughly supported by US neocons, the military-industrial complex, and Wall Street financial interests, all «leading from behind» a Brazilian complex of comprador elites, financial, industrial and agri-business lobbies, and mainstream media controlled by four families.
Predictably, President-in-Waiting Michel «Brutus» Temer – for the moment still Vice-President in Dilma Rousseff’s administration – has taken some time out from plotting against her to sound/act «presidential»; the Senate is bound to confirm Rousseff’s impeachment trial by May 11, after which she will be sidelined for 180 days. «Brutus» is selling an economic program with inbuilt cuts in the minimum wage, pensions, and spending on health and education – so his technocrats won’t have to raise taxes.
The Goddess of the Market – with all attendant Wall Street/Beltway cronies/patsies chorus – applauds; call it a government for the 1%. Brazilian workers will certainly react – in the streets. Not to mention that for the silent majority – ¾ of the Brazilian population, according to a recent poll – this is nothing but an elite catfight.
«Brutus» himself also happens to spouse a paltry 1% popular approval rate. So he will be a Dead Man Walking presiding over a Walking Dead administration. Oh, the irony of it all; he defines as «coup» the proposal now largely being discussed in Brazil of anticipated fresh elections. That in fact would be the least bad option, compared to removing a President that has not committed a «crime of responsibility». It might even have a shot at lifting the nation out of its current, extremely serious economic/institutional paralysis.
An unholy Kafkaesque/surrealist alliance continues to dictate the terms of the golpeachment process. Supreme Court ministers – some of them bearing not exactly uplifting records – still allow a certified crook, leader of the lower house Eduardo Cunha, to keep Brazil hostage, even as another witness, a lobbyist, confirmed he personally handed out nearly $1 million to Cunha, in cash, as a kickback. Brazil’s top crook is an albatross hanging over Walking Dead Brutus’s neck.
The crook’s party, the PMDB, is – so far unsuccessfully – lobbying for him to renounce the lower house presidency and remain only as a Congressman, still able to profit from a «privileged forum» to answer accusations that are part of the Car Wash investigation. Meanwhile, the Supreme Court relents, still not examining a request by the attorney general to sidestep Cunha at the lower house under the dubious rationale it could not intervene so blatantly into another key power of the Republic.
In parallel, the senator that will conduct the impeachment hearing has received no less than 11% of the total kickback disbursed by some dodgy companies, all of them investigated and some already condemned by the Car Wash investigation.
Yet none of this was ever about fighting corruption in the Brazilian political system; it was meant to create the conditions for golpeachment.
A mighty juridical swamp
The stillborn «Brutus» administration, already blessed – literally – by extreme-right wing evangelicals, has also been the catalyst for a mighty catfight among the ranks of the former social democrats turned neoliberal enforcers, the PSDB. The party is – in thesis – behind the new set-up. Sort of, because they’ve already changed their main interlocutor with «Brutus», thanks to mutual hatred between two senators who lost the last two presidential campaigns to Dilma Rousseff. «Brutus» may have already secured a Finance Minister; Henrique Meirelles, former BankBoston, a serious operator widely well regarded by Wall Street. But he will be facing great balls of fire to implement the project of those who encouraged golpeachment.
So what about Lula in all this mess? He’s articulating in the background like there’s not tomorrow. He knows his hand is not bad at all. If this really reveals itself as a Walking Dead operation, he wins the 2018 presidential election hands down. If the election is anticipated, virtually all polls show him as one of the two candidates qualifying for the second round. He’s bound to lead the Workers Party into shelving a position of victimhood – and fully taking responsibility for the many mistakes, political and economic, of both Rousseff’s terms. That will be the road map to reconstitute a united Left front in Brazil.
Is «Brutus» the new Macri – as in the vulture fund-friendly Argentine president? Possibly as far as the Empire of Chaos is concerned; see how Macri is being celebrated as a new darling in the Beltway. But Macri at least won an election. The Mercosur trade bloc has threatened to suspend Brazil in case of golpeachment; that would be a severe blow for a group of nations negotiating a trade deal with the EU. Both Mercosur and UNASUR will hardly stand behind «Brutus» – as Rousseff will go no holds barred, across South America and Europe, to discredit him. 1980 Nobel Peace Prize Adolfo Esquivel – an Argentine – has already denounced what’s going on in Brazil as a «white coup».
Legally, golpeachment is on extremely shaky ground. It would be slightly more credible if the focus was on what happened in Rousseff’s second term; five of her six decrees seized as a motive for impeachment are not crimes and refer to 2014, her previous administration. The only one from 2015 is an economic plan that does not need a decree. And yet the heavily politicized Supreme Court is not analyzing the merit of the whole question. And the Senate wants the circus to go on.
Lula is monitoring all this, plus the polls. He knows the former social democrats turned neoliberal enforcers, the Beltway/Wall Street gang, stand no electoral chance whatsoever, now or in 2018. And there’s virtually zero chance of «Brutus» implementing a national salvation government out of this Walking Dead set up; not while he totally sold out to Big Capital. Recession will bite even more. Foreign investors won’t invest in a juridical swamp. Brazil will be fabulous for speculation. And that’s it.
Politically though, it will be the 9th circle of hell. Imagine a totally discredited Supreme Court – acting as a political gang, not as mediators. Imagine a rabid Public Ministry going after the whole Left like rabid Savonarolas. A few days ago, at a seminary in Harvard, the Republic’s leading prosecutor was crystal clear; his mission is to whack the Workers’ Party, a «criminal organization», for good. Lula will continue to be «judged» by parochial judicial Little Inquisitors as the leader of this «criminal organization».
But – popular – blowback may be bombastic. And that may well translate into Lula back in power in 2018. The Hybrid War hyenas better start freaking out now.