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Temer administration further weakened by more corruption claims: calls for impeachment

Saturday, November 26th 2016 - 13:23 UTC
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Temer, who is deeply unpopular, has been struggling to push through an ambitious austerity agenda to pull Brazil out of its worst recession in decades. Temer, who is deeply unpopular, has been struggling to push through an ambitious austerity agenda to pull Brazil out of its worst recession in decades.
Culture Minister Calero told federal police that legislative affairs minister, Geddel Vieira Lima, pressured him to allow construction of a luxury building in a historic site Culture Minister Calero told federal police that legislative affairs minister, Geddel Vieira Lima, pressured him to allow construction of a luxury building in a historic site

A Brazilian minister resigned on Friday amid allegations that he enlisted President Michel Temer's help to pressure a fellow Cabinet member to approve a luxury apartment development project in a preservation zone. The announcement feeds a growing scandal over alleged misuse of power that threatens Temer's presidency only six months after he replaced a predecessor ousted from office by Congress — and at a time corruption investigations have tarred many senior politicians.

 At least one opposition party says it will submit a motion to impeach the new president.

Temer, who is deeply unpopular with many Brazilians, has been struggling to push through an ambitious austerity agenda he says will pull Latin America's largest economy out of its worst recession in decades. Since May, his administration has lurched from one scandal to the next, but until now, none had directly implicated the president.

Temer's administration “just turned six months and it already looks old,” Fabio Zanini, political editor of the daily newspaper Folha de Sao Paulo, wrote Friday. “The strategy to win popular legitimacy with an economic recovery and political stability is quickly sinking for a president who was not supported by the popular vote.”

The latest crisis started when former Culture Minister Marcelo Calero told federal police that Temer's legislative affairs minister, Geddel Vieira Lima, pressured him to allow construction of a luxury building in a historic preservation area in the city of Salvador, Bahía, 1,000 miles northwest of Rio de Janeiro. Lima had bought a unit in the planned development.

Calero, who resigned last week, testified that Temer himself suggested that he use a method to avoid the normal oversight process for such a building.

Calero said Temer invited him to the presidential palace last week to suggest “a way out,” indicating that the building restrictions had created “operational difficulties” in his administration, according to Calero's testimony.

“Politics has these things, that kind of pressure,” Temer said, according with Calero.

Temer's spokesman said Thursday night that the president simply intervened to arbitrate a dispute between Cabinet members.

In his resignation letter, Lima said the accusations of wrongdoing were merely “interpretations.” He said he was stepping down because he and his family were suffering due to the accusations.

Lima is the sixth minister in Temer's government to resign amid allegations of corruption.

Several Brazilian news outlets reported Friday that Calero had made recordings of conversations with Temer, Lima and presidential Chief-of-Staff Eliseu Padilha.

“I never acted in bad faith or in deceitful ways,” Calero said on his Facebook page. “I fulfilled my duties as a Brazilian citizen not to comply with illegalities and acts with respect to the institutions.”

The left-leaning Socialist and Liberty Party pledged that on Monday it would submit a measure to Congress to impeach Temer. But to move forward, it would have to be accepted by Rodrigo Maia, speaker of the lower Chamber of Deputies and a Temer ally.

Oliver Stuenkel, professor of international relations at the Getulio Vargas Foundation in Sao Paulo, said the scandal makes Temer's future unpredictable. “The damage can grow,” Stuenkel said. “There will be speculation about the future and that will also delay attempts to pass reforms.”

The political scene was embittered by the impeachment trial and ouster of former President Dilma Rousseff, who was found guilty by the opposition-led Senate of breaking budgetary laws. Temer was vice president and replaced her, making him a target for Rousseff allies who called her ouster a legislative “coup.”

Temer is pushing to pass a major overhaul of the pension system and to impose a spending cap on government spending. The country's economy is expected to contract by 3% this year after a similarly bad 2015.

Categories: Politics, Brazil.

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  • Jack Bauer

    “At least one opposition party says it will submit a motion to impeach the new president.”

    Sure, PT, PC do B, PSOL, Rede and a few other insignificant parties-for-hire. Just shows what sore losers they are. But they'll get nowhere.

    “Temer, who is deeply unpopular with many Brazilians,.....”

    “deeply unpopular with 'whom' ” ? ah yes, the 'petistas' and those who are upset that the fat cow was impeached. While Temer isn't at all concerned about his popularity, it might be good for those idiots to remember that either Brazil approves his austerity measures, or the country will go down the drain, once and for all. Those who are rooting against him, are exactly those that just want power back, at any cost. Screw them !

    Nov 26th, 2016 - 09:12 pm 0
  • DemonTree

    I bet Rousseff thought they wouldn't be able to impeach her too, until she fell out with Temer's party and Cunha allowed it to proceed.

    Isn't Temer also implicated in all the corruption scandals? I bet he's unpopular with some people because of that, but he claims he doesn't care as he's not planning on standng for President in the next election. Still, isn't there a chance his own party will stab him in the back if he gets unpopular enough? They won't want to lose in the polls because they are associated with him.

    The other comments have closed so I'll reply about voter IDs here.

    For the Democrats the point is this: although their supporters would be able to obtain IDs with some time and effort, they know that some of them - maybe a lot of them - will not bother to do so, and will therefore not vote if the laws are passed. Naturally they object to this, and are suspicious of the motives of Republicans in passing such laws.

    There is also the fact that in America, there is a long and ignominious tradition of making laws to disenfranchise certain communities, such as by requiring literacy tests, property requirements, and poll taxes in order for people to register to vote.

    Quite a few states have had their voter ID laws struck down by the courts on the basis that they discriminate against minorities. In North Carolina they even found that the (Republican) state government requested data on the use, by race, of a number of voting practices, and then enacted a law to remove those most used by blacks. Highly suspicious when they know black Americans mostly vote Democrat.

    If there was a lot of fraud then maybe it would be worth passing such restrictive measures despite the fact they reduce voting by citizens, but most evidence actually shows there is little 'in person' voting fraud; rather most of the fraud is associated with absentee balloting.

    I was going to write about immigration too, but I've run out of space.

    Nov 27th, 2016 - 03:44 pm 0
  • Hepatia

    So, what more can we say but, “#ForaTemer”.

    Nov 28th, 2016 - 04:12 am 0
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