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Dilma Rousseff: Brazil 'coup' not over

Dilma Rousseff: Brazil 'coup' not over
From BBC - August 11, 2017

It has been almost a year since the impeachment of Brazil's former president Dilma Rousseff, removed from office for illegally manipulating government accounts.

And what a year it's been. Ms Rousseff's former running mate Michel Temer took over the top job and since then he has nearly been ousted over alleged illegal campaign financing, charged with taking bribes and implicated in the country's biggest-ever corruption scandal, Operation Car Wash. More recently he narrowly missed having the dubious honour of being the first president to be put on trial for corruption.

Meanwhile, former President Luis Incio Lula da Silva was, last month, sentenced to nearly 10 years in prison on corruption and money laundering charges.

There are more twists and turns in a week of Brazilian politics than there are in most countries in a year.

But amid the turmoil, Dilma Rousseff's feelings over her impeachment remain the same.

"Do not think that it started and finished the day I was removed from office," she told me in an interview. "It started before, it started when they [rivals] did not have a way to get to power through direct democratic elections. So democracy was not viable from their point of view."

Despite the sentence hanging over Lula, he remains free on appeal and has announced his intention to run for president. Currently he is the front-runner. Ms Rousseff sees Lula's conviction as just another political manoeuvre.

"The first chapter of the coup was my impeachment," she says. "But there's a second chapter, and that is stopping President Lula from becoming a candidate for next year's elections."

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If Lula's sentence is upheld, his political ambitions will be thwarted. However, Ms Rousseff wo not be drawn on alternative candidates.

And even if he does run, many people question whether a return to the past is the way to solve the country's problems. Does Brazil not need new blood?

""How do we know that Brazil needs a new leader and a new change? And since when is new necessarily a good thing?" she asks. "New could be Hitler. There's no guarantee. Why do people recognise Lula? Because people lived better during his government."

The Workers' Party rule did lift millions of Brazilians out of poverty with generous social programmes. But Brazil also lived through two corruption scandals and the country fell into recession in 2014. Does the party not feel partly to blame for the economic problems it now faces?

"For six years we avoided the economic crisis that affected countries in Europe and in the US in 2008 and 2009," she says, adding that the crisis there was down to a lack of financial controls.

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