Dilma Rouseff’s Letter to the Nation

President Dilma Rouseff’s Historic Testimony


Today, the Federal Senate has made a decision which shall go down as one of history’s great injustices. The senators who voted for the impeachment have chosen to tear the Brazilian Constitution apart. They have decided to interrupt the mandate of a president who did not commit a responsibility crime. They have condemned an innocent person and executed a parliamentary coup.

Now that I have been removed from office, politicians who are desperately looking to escape justice will rise to power with those who have been defeated in the past elections. They are not coming to power on direct popular vote, as Lula and I did in 2002, 2006, 2010, and 2014. They are taking it over on a coup d’etat.

This is the second coup that I have faced in my life. The first, a military coup, supported by the brutality of weapons, repression, and torture, struck me when I was young. The second, a parliamentary coup which was completed today by means of a judicial farce, removes me from an office publicly elected by the Brazilian people.

This was an undisputed indirect election, in which 61 senators replaced the choice of 54.5 million votes. It was a fraud, which we are going to appeal on every possible instance.

It is shocking that the greatest effort against corruption in Brazilian history, which has been made possible by actions and laws created after 2003 — further developed in my government — is helping a group of corrupt politicians to power.

The national, progressive, inclusive and democratic project which I represent is being interrupted by a powerful conservative, reactionary force, with the support of a partisan, venal press. They are going to seize the institutions of the State and have them serve the most radical economical liberalism and social regression.

They have just overthrown the first female president of Brazil, with no constitutional justification for this impeachment. But the coup was not only against me or my party. That was just the beginning. This coup will indistinctly affect every progressive, democratic political organization.

The coup is against social and union movements and against those who fight for their rights in every sense of the word: the right to work and to protect labor laws, the right to fair retirement, the right to housing and land, the right to education, to health, to culture, the rights of young people in making their own future, the rights of black people, of indigenous people, of LGBT people, of women, the right to express oneself with no repression.

The coup is against the people and against the nation. This coup is misogynistic. The coup is homophobic. The coup is racist. It is the imposition of a culture of intolerance, of prejudice, of violence.

I ask Brazilians to listen to me. I speak to more than 54 million Brazilians who voted for me in 2014. I speak to the 110 million Brazilians who approved direct election as the legitimate way to choose their presidents.

I speak mainly to Brazilians who, during my government, overcame poverty, who made the dream of owning a home come true, who started getting medical care, who went to University and stopped being invisible to the eyes of the nation, earning their long denied rights.

The disbelief and the sadness we feel at times like these are very bad influences. Don’t give up the fight.

Listen closely: they believe they have defeated us, but they are wrong. I know all of us will fight. They will face the most solid, tireless, and energetic opposition that a coup government can have.

When President Lula was elected for the first time, in 2003, we came to power singing that no one should be afraid of being happy. For 13 years, we have successfully carried out a project that promoted the greatest levels of social inclusion and the biggest reduction of social inequalities in Brazilian history.

The story will not end like this. I am certain that the interruption of this story through a coup is not final. We are coming back. We are coming back to continue our journey towards this Brazil where the people come first.

I hope we can find ways to unite ourselves for causes which are common to every progressive person, regardless of party affiliation or political stance. I propose that, together, we fight against backwardness, against the conservative agenda, against the elimination of rights, for national sovereignty and for the full reestablishment of democracy.

I leave the Presidency as I came: without having made any illicit act, without having betrayed any of my commitments, with dignity, and carrying in my heart the same love and admiration I always had for Brazilians, and the same urge to keep fighting for Brazil.

I lived my truth. I gave my best. I didn’t run away from my responsibilities. I was moved emotionally by human suffering. I was touched by the fight against poverty and hunger. And I fought against social inequalities.

I had some good fights. I lost some, I won many of them, and, right now, I’m inspired by Darcy Ribeiro to say that I don’t want to be in the place of those who believe themselves victorious. History will be merciless against them.

To the Brazilian women, who covered me with flowers and affection, I ask them to believe they can. Future generations of Brazilian women will know that the first time that a woman became president in our country, sexism and misogyny reared their ugly faces. We have built a one-way road towards gender equality. Nothing is going to take us back.

In this moment, I will not say goodbye to you. I am sure I can say “I’ll see you soon.”

I will close now, sharing these beautiful words of encouragement from Russian poet Mayakovsky:

“We are not happy, that’s true
But what is the reason for us to be sad?
The sea of history is turbulent
Threats and wars, we will cross them
Break them apart
We’ll cut through them like a keel”

A warm hug to the Brazilian people, who share with me the belief in democracy and the dream of justice.

Thursday, September 1, 2016.