Dilma Rousseff, the woman first elected president of Brazil in 2011, was removed from office Wednesday by a 61-20 vote of the upper house of the nation's 81-seat congress. How it happened is a tale for our time, with corrupt oligarchs, pilfered public monies, massive corruption and what those benefitting from it are willing to do, misdirection on two continents (one being ours), and obfuscation by corporacratic media. In just one indictment that's off the beaten track, a former Petrobras refining head was arrested for taking $400 million from the company "to make political donations.
The story is complete with official American spying against a friendly foreign president and her cabinet ministers, and concurrently, against one of the 30 largest corporations in the world, which that president once headed—as revealed in disclosures by whistleblower Edward Snowden.
There's even the oddity of a two-part impeachment. One vote removed her office, the second vote guaranteed her right to seek any public office immediately. It's representative of a lot of this.
The Strange Role of American Corporate Media
We'll begin with the curious, perhaps predictable, fact of how differently global media and U.S. corporate mainstream media reacted to the news. One was immediate and thorough in its reporting, the other lagged for hours, then parsed, spun, equivocated and minimized.
As the vote count revealed the results, foreign-based cable TV news in America broke-in to current news and public affairs programming with special coverage. If you were watching BBC World, RT, or France 24, all with U.S. TV and web programming in English, you got the news immediately. Moreover, extensive analysis began right away from experts in Brazilian economics, culture, and socio-politics, worldwide. It was cogent, comprehensive, and could be thoroughly comprehended, all without hyperventilation or hyperbole. No Chris Matthews-style yelling, no Rachel Maddow teensy-weensie cutesiness, no insipidly stupid CNN attempts at the sophomorically knowledgeable when the Shinola can was empty, and no smug Fox pontificators.
It's not a "Brazilian thing." Not at all. Machiavelli is alive and well and he doesn't spend all his time destroying the rain forest.
The latter can't even be argued. Because if you were watching the U.S. stalwarts of cable news—CNN, MSNBC, or Fox—you didn't know anything had happened in Brazil since the Olympic torch went out. Viewers of all three U.S.-based cable news outlets were experiencing a very different tableau in transition. One by one, several hours of speculative babbling about Trump's trip to Mexico was switching to yet another campaign stump speech from Hillary Clinton in some barely-full community college faculty lunchroom. Though it was desperately needed by scenes that would have been mercifully ended, and thoroughly warranted by the magnitude of what they were ignoring, there was no interruption for the news from Brazil. No blaring trumpets, no giant screen banner for "BREAKING NEWS!!!"—they don't use the exclamation points, but they might as well, when they do it. But they didn't do it. They supplied -- well, since we just lost Gene Wilder, we'll invoke one of his Willy Wonka signature lines—they supplied, "(!)—NOTHING!"
Of course, Fox had to prove it doesn't follow Hillary around like a puppy dog, so it went to a huge block of commercials, then cut into her speech "in progress." Over on CNN and MSNBC, the puppy, in full tail wag, was munching his daily ration of H-arrow biscuits.
The rest of the world was well into learning about something momentous. Not only that one of the world's largest democracies had just had its president toppled, but intelligent conversation by knowledgeable people about how and why it had happened.
Thus we'll pause for the inevitable questions: whether this is just another case of the ratings-driven business of profit-before-purpose? Whether America's cable news indulges Americans' notorious ethnocentrism, because "foreign" anything—except terrorist attacks and missing airliners—does not, cannot, and never will interest us? (Probably because their high-speed trains and free health care as a right of citizenship annoys us and makes us jealous.) Cable news execs must believe that. Just as they believe the myth of their entitlement to ever larger corporate-consolidated hegemony.
So we'll ask the questions they won't. Starting with this one: Ever heard of Petrobras?
Petrobras: Part One
"Name the biggest oil company in the world. ExxonMobil? British Petroleum? Royal Dutch Shell? In fact, the 13 largest energy companies on Earth, measured by the reserves they control, are now owned and operated by governments. Saudi Aramco, Gazprom (Russia), China National Petroleum Corp., National Iranian Oil Co., Petróleos de Venezuela, Petrobras (Brazil) and Petronas (Malaysia) are all larger than ExxonMobil, the largest of the multinationals. Collectively, multinational oil companies produce just 10% of the world's oil and gas reserves. State-owned companies now control more than 75% of all crude oil production."
So wrote the Wall Street Journal in May, 2010.
We can take issue with the WSJ's characterization of the biggest oil giants as all "owned and operated by governments," since there is a lot of quasi-government in there, and plenty of private-sector hands in the cash register. Meantime, dear reader, you did note that Petrobras—in Brazil, which is 57% publicly-owned—is among those thirteen oil/gas giants that are bigger than all the U.S. multinationals you've ever heard of.
In fact, Petrobras is one of the 30 biggest businesses in the world. Majority-owned by the state, Petrobras is a major source of revenue for the Brazilian government. In the past few years, Petrobras is developing the biggest oil discoveries of this century, which are in a pre-salt region deep under the Atlantic. And they're using U.S. taxpayer money to do it. We'll get to all that. It all effects the impeachment.
Dissent, Manipulation, Impeachment
There's plenty to keep in mind as we examine what happened in Brazil, why U.S. mainstream media is reticent to cover it, the nature of the coverage American media does present, what's really behind the how and what happened, and why there's cause to ask if it was an impeachment or a coup.
Juliana Moura Bueno, Brazilian lawyer, former director of the nation's leading human rights organization and a leading activist, offered an especially thorough explanation on France 24 of the basis and fallacies of the impeachment charges used to bring down Dilma Rousseff:
"President Rousseff was charged with authorizing expenditures not passed by the congress. In fact, the Brazilian constitution of '88 makes provision for that. The president can go forward and make the authorization as long as the amount does not exceed the previous year's authorization [that the congress did make]. Then it's up to congress to block it, or it goes into effect. That's what Rousseff did," explained Bueno, and "they impeached her for exceeding her constitutional budgetary authority. It was a set-up, and they had no basis to find her in the wrong."
As for Dilma's political opponents, those who prevailed in the impeachment? Bueno explained, "The way Brazil's parliamentary system works, you are elected, you form a majority, and you propose your program. If you are unable to pass your program, you step down. Rousseff had pledged that she would step down if her Workers Party agenda could not be adopted. It was heavy on reforms, because that was what the people were demanding. It passed. And because of their own corruption, some in government became terrified by the idea of reforms."
Switching from what had brought the impeachment to the insincerity of those who enacted it, Bueno said, "Now, you have the people and powers who have done this. They have taken-over, they have been working hard to do this, to take over, to stage this coup. And where are their programs, where are their proposals for reforms the people were demanding? They have none! They simply wanted power, for their own interests and purposes. Will they resign if they cannot pass programs? Ha! They have no programs!"
Clearly, there is someone with a program. At least enough of a program to seize and consolidate power. That is Vice President Michel Temer. We'll cover his role as we examine the chronology of the impeachment.
It should be obvious this isn't a straightforward relationship of a corrupt power grab by someone in charge. It's not like Richard Nixon and Watergate, where even a president's own party had to desert him when revelations of abuse of public office became undeniable and everyone else had to maintain the appearance of integrity. This is no way comparable with the Bill Clinton impeachment where the charges were limited to lying under oath about extramarital affairs inside the White House. Think astronomical sums of money. Think oily. Slippery. The overinflated value of toxic black gold from the world's oil patches, including Brazil.
Rousseff celebrated the chance to root out the predators and parasites. "It's the first time we have ever had a concrete investigation into corruption in Brazil, in either the public or private sectors," she said, seeing that the Petrobras scandal could have the power "to change Brazil forever."
Business Insider's reporter who got that quote in 2014 added, "She should know. She's being investigated herself."
The essence of the Rousseff administration's investigation of Petrobras and government corruption was dubbed "Operation Car Wash" by investigators, and that was quickly adopted in Brazilian media and conversation. Get rid of the unsightly oily grime. Make things sparkle so you could be proud. In a large country with vast distances where car ownership remains an aspiration for many, it's interesting imagery. Winning the hearts and minds of the people took more twists and turns than the crash-laden Olympic cross-country bike race course.
Public disgust with all levels of Brazil's government has long been, and remains, high, with many believing this was a coup. Couple that to the entrenched sense that corporate connections with politicians amount to outright ownership at all levels in public office, elected and appointed. Pay-for-play, purchased influence, preferential treatment or punitive handling of foes, donations and contributions in return for licenses, approvals, exclusive rights of operation or access to exploit vast geographic areas -- all are represented in innumerable investigated offenses, though they go unprosecuted because of the web constructed by powerful offenders to protect their shares of pilfered cash. It may just sound third-world. But remember that Brazil is resource-rich, and its oil company is bigger than ExxonMobil.
Petrobras: Part Two
Not all roads lead to Petrobras, Brazil's ostensibly state-owned oil company, but you need to use those roads to get anywhere. Dilma Rousseff headed that company before running for public office. Hold on—we'll get to that in a moment. It's not something that can be left hanging to twist in the wind that, Rousseff headed that incredibly corrupt, rat maze of an enterprise. It's far more complicated and where this goes is not at all predictable.
Rousseff had been a political prisoner of the 1964-1985 military dictatorship, and she was tortured by them. When the dictatorship was brought down, the Brazilian constitution of '88 brought a full return of structured democratic government. Along with it came fame for the talented, intelligent, strong woman who had fought the generals. But, in another crazy twist, Brazil's return to civil authority meant that all the people and influences of that brutal junta were not imprisoned. They weren't even removed from their military positions.
Rousseff's Road to Impeachment
Background, alone, isn't always the determinant. After all, Teddy Roosevelt, FDR, and the Kennedy brothers were all raised as members of the patrician class, and they are pillars of the progressive movement. For Dilma, it wasn't birthright, and she'd even been a political prisoner. But heading Petrobras would have been the ultimate cushy job for many.
Elected president in 2011, former oil minister Dilma Rousseff had presented herself as the philosophical heir of Brazil's earlier beloved President Luis Inancio Lula da Silva, under whom tens of millions of Brazilians had come out of poverty. There was even a popular image of da Silva in hard hat and work clothes, in a Petrobras-esque setting, epitomizing "The New Brazil."
Rousseff, consciously emulating her idol, immediately began to shake things up with a comprehensive array of social programs, and things suddenly got better for 31 million of Brazil's people. But forces she couldn't control were not with her. It was just as Brazil's boom was coming to an end amidst global economic changes, including cheaper commodities and cheaper labor in Southeast Asia, an increasing shift to solar and wind energy, and new technology that was making more efficient solar panels much cheaper.
Rousseff understood oil. But this wasn't just oil. Extraction of a variety of natural resources—often horrendously destructive extraction—had fueled creation of oligarchs and plutocrats in Brazil, as elsewhere, as people who had been and were continuing, with a sense of entitlement, to remove themselves from the needs of working people and the poor. If you're thinking mysterious Bilderbergers, that's not it—Brazilian corruption was operating behind thin lace curtains.
Over 1,000 Swiss bank accounts holding over $800 million are currently blocked because of disclosures of looting of the nation's assets by powerful politicians and patricians. That is one result of a national investigation of government corruption undertaken by Rousseff's administration. Those frozen bank accounts don't simply indicate where things went wrong for the country: they are representative of where the investigation went wrong. As it began to uncover shenanigans by major politicians in Brazil's congress, powerful forces caused things to take a sudden turn. The broad examinations that were finding fat-cat politicians behind every tiny bush simply stopped. The investigation was redirected. It became a contrived ride down the narrow and twisted neck of a funnel, dumping everything on a single point.
Suddenly, it was all about investigating Rousseff.
Rousseff, the woman of the people, the great populist who had evoked the beloved da Silva, partially saw it coming. She tried to respond to Brazil's recession in a manner the powerfully rich—now her mortal foes—would accept. With inflation at ten percent, she followed the standard economic demand of the rich. She invoked austerity. And that wave of populist support she had been riding from the struggling, the just-barely getting ahead, and the poor finally being helped? It collapsed.
Her opponents seized their opening. They charged her with financial misdeeds. At one point, she was even charged with skimming 3% off the top of all Petrobras contracts to finance her reelection campaign, and she was slow to deny it. For the poor whose financial crutches had been ripped away in her flip-flop embrace of austerity, charging her with financial misdeeds sounded like fine retribution. At least it did before realities set in.
Vice President Michel Temer and his Olympic Moment
The country's congress temporarily removed Rousseff from office. They rushed to do that before the Olympics, depriving her of the world stage where sympathy, support, and attention to the realities of what was, in fact, a coup, would have restored her to favor. That move placed her and the country in limbo, with Brazil's constitutional authority placing vice president Michel Temer in a caretaker role. He was supposed to quietly hold that responsibility pending the outcome of her impeachment -- what we would call her impeachment trial.
Instead of behaving with solemn, quiet grace and dignity, as any political consultant would have advised, Temer showed no temerity. He was something of a Napoleon. Not being from Rousseff's party—which is something that can happen under Brazil's election system—Temer busily began firing the heads of all the nation's key cabinet ministries and replacing them with his people (think U.S. cabinet-level Secretaries fired and replaced by a sitting vice president).
Even those who had become disenchanted with Rousseff couldn't help but take notice. It took no time for a "Never Temer" movement to take hold, whether or not the masses were ready to bring Dilma back.
At the Olympics, it came time for Temer, representing the host nation, to speak at the opening ceremonies. Broadcast around the world, he got five seconds into his intended speech and gave up amidst a sea of Brazilian booing. Two and a half weeks later, all protocols were violated when he refused to risk appearing at the closing ceremony. He should have been the one to pass the Olympic flag to Japan, the next host nation.
Much of what has happened since impeachment was initiated in May is a study in the arrogance of wealth and power, proving an inability or unwillingness to understand the needs of the people.
It Gets Strange
If unprosecuted nefarious militarists inclined toward juntas seem impossible to reconcile with civil governments engaged, 30 years later, in deficit spending for social programs—programs run by a president who had been an industrialist from a corrupt enterprise after being a tortured prisoner, and before ascending a corrupt political system and trying to reform it—money is the key. Money from destructive extraction. Petrobras money. A lot of it. Money that flows along predictable channels based on entrenched corruption, circulating like blood feeding hungry cells before gravitating into the hands of a surprising number of very rich corrupt Brazilian oligarchs, working on being full-fledged plutocrats.
That's because they're good at what they do. In 2009, despite the Brazilian oil company's staggering wealth, they secured money from the Obama administration to finance Petrobras' offshore oil drilling off the Brazilian coast, in one of the planet's biggest undeveloped oilfields.
Thanks to that aid, two billion in U.S. taxpayer dollars would fund development of Brazil's Tupi oil field in the Santos Basin near Rio de Janeiro.
That's not all. In fact, it's one of the places where we see intrigue involving the U.S. government. Brazil's planning minister confirmed that it was White House National Security Adviser James Jones who met in August, 2009, with Brazilian officials to talk about the loan, reported the Wall Street Journal. The WSJ was concerned with its crocodile tears that our money could drill in the ocean there, but not here, and that became their focus.
They missed the major point. The "White House National Security Adviser," meeting to set up money for oil field development? Not someone from the Department of Energy, or USAID, or the U.S. Export-Import Bank?
Then It Gets Stranger
In September, 2013, a revelation burst forth that the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) appeared to be spying on Brazilian oil company Petrobras. There were documented "accusations that NSA is conducting intelligence-gathering operations that go beyond its core mission of national security," as reported in The Guardian."
The rest of global media made quite a story of the release of more files from U.S. whistleblower Edward Snowden. Not so much in U.S. media. Brazilians saw it first on their country's most influential current affairs/TV news program, "Fantástico." Following the broadcast, confirming documents were released on Brazil's Globo network.
It got more embarrassing when the report showed NSA's intelligence-gathering operations "go beyond its core mission of national security—often cited as the key distinction between the agency and its counterparts in China and Russia," as "The Guardian" saw it. The story continued that the revelation "further strain(ed) ties between the U.S. and Brazil ahead of a planned state dinner for president Dilma Rousseff at the White House," that October.
U.S.-Brazil relations had "already been muddled by the earlier release of NSA files showing the U.S. agency intercepted Brazilian communications and spied on Rousseff and her aides," and had "monitored the phone calls and emails of Rousseff and her aides, as well as Mexico's president Enrique Peña Nieto," though a lot of other U.S.-based media had missed that part, too.
The "Fantástico" program, "The Guardian" reported, said "the espionage posed questions about whether the information would be used to benefit the competitiveness of companies in the U.S. and its close allies. The presenters noted that many top-secret US intelligence documents are categorised as FVEY (five eyes) relating to the national agencies entitled to see them: US, UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand."
The show "included speculation by experts and former Petrobras directors on the industrial secrets that the U.S. might want to acquire, including deep-sea drilling technology."
Which makes you wonder if the Obama administration had funded the Brazilian company's development of that vast offshore oil field because U.S. companies had persuaded the government that it needed to spy in their behalf to learn how to actually do it.
From Boom to Bust: Just Add Corruption and Stir
In November, 2014, "Business Insider" did a revealing feature titled, "Petrobras is Brazil's Shame". A similar piece received newspaper distribution through Reuters, as ”Brazil's Massive State-Owned Oil Company Has Become a National Nightmare." The stories detailed the arrests, during the five-day period before it was published, of 24 rich and powerful Brazilians, with more warrants still outstanding, all for charges of corruption involving their relationships with Petrobras. In the month prior to the story, the value of Petrobras had fallen 35%. That turned Brazil's stock market into a whipsaw, and the value of the nation's currency had hit a nine-year low. The country had spent months watching things get worse and regretting it had won the 2016 Olympics with most facilities still to be built. Corruption hearings before the lower house of Brazil's congress on April 30, 2014, had even featured questions about the purchase of a refinery in Pasadena, Texas. The farther the investigators from President Rousseff's administration looked, the more they found. The $58.9 billion oil and gas company—its value at the time after that 35% dive—had been analyzed the previous December by Forbes, which had assessed, "What Are the Chances of Brazil's State-Owned Oil Giant Petrobras Going Bankrupt? 32%, to Be Precise." In fact, Petrobras' then CEO, Maria das Graças Silva Foster, was one of Forbes’ current "Most Powerful Women" of 2013, as was Roussseff. Petrobras, founded in 1953, was approaching its 60th anniversary as 2013 ended, and its market capitalization had dropped 45% in the three years since its peak in 2010, from $196.21 billion to $103.9 billion. During that the same period, Petrobras’ debt soared over 2.5 times before earnings, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA), totaling $112.4 billion as of June 30, 2013—17% more than a year earlier. Net debt, or debt minus cash and marketable securities, was $79.6 billion, resulting in the company’s sudden downgrading by Moody’s from concern that fuel subsidies and huge investment commitments would cause its 2013 debt to grow until at least 2015. (These numbers are from Forbes, which is solid on the monetary aspects.) The Forbes piece asked, "But why has Petrobras... gone from heaven to hell at the very moment when it is announcing some of its biggest oil discoveries, including those in its Libra field, whose estimates for production were recently updated to as much as 12 billion barrels, twice previous estimates?" The story answered its question, "Simply put, for Petrobras — as for any other oil company out there in the world, and Brazil’s own bankrupt OGX is an example of that — more oil means more investments and debt. Considering that Petrobras also has the world’s largest corporate spending program, valued at $237 billion, it also means more trouble." In December, 2013, Forbes couldn't have known how rapidly things would change, but in a sense, Petrobras was something of a harbinger of what everyone knew would eventually happen to overtake global oil prices. Overproduction would collide with growing global realization that fossil fuel consumption drives runaway global climate change, nations would sign treaties to reduce and reverse it, and green energy would at last become cost competitive. Though you still won't see the conservative financial journals acknowledge that part. Instead, Forbes offered their partial explanation, consistent with their usual boogeyman: "One of the reasons behind this tragic reverse in fortune is, of course, related to the problem of price control in Brazil," wrote Forbes. they concluded, "Due to the government’s intervention in gas prices, which have been frozen to control Brazil’s spiraling inflation (currently at 6%), Petrobras buys oil at a price higher than the price it can be sold for in the country." But the signs of unmanageable trouble—ubiquitous since Rousseff launched investigations into corruption and found it everywhere, along with gross mismanagement at Petrobras -- were not publicly obvious before she took office in 2011. That's evident in business and investment journals glowing accounts of Petrobras, whose stock value had peaked in 2010.
Attempt Reform, Pay the Consequences
Rousseff's Workers Party had been in power for 13 years. They had, under her leadership, proposed a ten-point reform program. They encountered Brazil's VP Michel Temer, who, as the leader of the opposition party, immediately pledged to block the reforms. But there's no question Rousseff fought for reforms. In addition to "Operation Car Wash" and all the revelations it produced, there was more. In 2014, her administration published the first examination of human rights abuses by the military junta. In fact, the investigation named culprits in abuses committed against Brazil's citizens from 1946 to 1988, with special attention to the dictatorship years of 1964 to 1985. “Brazil deserves the truth,” said Ms. Rousseff, speaking both as president of the nation and a torture victim. She "cried upon receiving the report," as "The Economist" noted in its story at the time. That delay in uncovering many shocks and unpleasant truths, and the fact that it took Rousseff and her unique background to finally break the silence, is also part of why all this is so complicated. The economist noted, "For a country whose recent presidents all suffered at the hands of the military regime that ruled from 1964 to 1985, Brazil has been awfully slow to probe that dark chapter of its history. Dilma Rousseff, the incumbent, was tortured. Her two immediate predecessors, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva and Fernando Henrique Cardoso, were respectively jailed and forced into exile. On December 10th, after nearly three years of sleuthing, the National Truth Commission presented its report..." It's worth a closer look at the solid reporting in that 2014 story in "The Economist."Describing the Rousseff administration's landmark document on the decades of Brazil's human rights abuses, the Economist reported:
"The 4,400-page publication stands out among similar efforts in other countries. It names 377 individuals as responsible for 434 political murders and disappearances. They include all eight military presidents and the top brass, as well as minions who carried out their orders. Their crimes were deliberate acts of policy, not occasional excesses, the report makes clear.
"Most culprits are either dead or in their dotage. Under an amnesty law enacted in 1979 (to benefit exiled dissidents) few will face trial. The commission hopes its report will prompt a rethink of the amnesty, which falls foul of human-rights treaties. But for now, symbolism must suffice. While no substitute for justice, admits José Miguel Vivanco of Human Rights Watch, a New York-based lobby group, “it is a start”.
"The decision to name and shame is not unprecedented: El Salvador did so in 1993. In Brazil’s case it is easier, because the wait has been so long."
__________ Nothing could offer a more stark contrast than the get-out-of-jail-free card granted those who had tortured Brazil's citizens, and removal from office of the president who dared reveal official abuses.
Certainly, it could all be as simple as the old adage about "whose ox is getting gored," considering the shocking sums of money involved. Brazil's congress likely had enough votes to dispose of anyone who threatened their gravy train of corruption. The unnerving revelations had kept going until stopped by impeachment. But it was abundantly clear that shocking amounts of missing money pointed not only at theft and embezzlement and unbelievably incompetent management, but at political corruption on a scale no one could imagine. For example, in March, 2014, former Petrobras refining head Paulo Proberto Costa was arrested for taking $400 million from the company "to make political donations." You have to wonder, "Political donations for what?" So, if the rich crooks protecting their old, established gravy trains is the entire story, then the many remaining loose ends and inconsistencies are rather hard to swallow. Dilma Rousseff was impeached by a vote of 61 to 20. Strangely, the impeachment was divided into two parts. A second vote went 42 to 36 in Rousseff's favor. Had it gone the other way, it would have blocked her from holding any public office for the next eight years, the maximum penalty available against an office holder outside of criminal charges. Perhaps leaving the door open is a safety valve for public pressure. "The whole impeachment strategy is a high risk one in a time of great economic uncertainty in Brazil," concluded one French journalist. Just as with the defeated Bernie Sanders movement, the winning status quo is nevertheless disoriented and concerned. The newest thing in Brazil is a collection of small, new, left-wing parties and some evangelical parties, who are collectively gaining ground against the entrenched old establishment parties. As in the U.S., what these newbies have in common—third parties, in our parlance—across their philosophical differences, is disgust at entrenched corruption and a sense that change is absolutely needed. Change, starting with throwing-out everyone who's on the take in public office. Even to the extent that voting for a candidate with an abhorrent philosophy trumps accepting a corrupt candidate put forth by an established party? In Brazil, the people, demanding a new election, are answering yes. There are more similarities in the assorted and nebulous "other factors" that many see as motivators, even hidden causal factors, in a coup disguised as an impeachment. Some will make comparisons of Rousseff's rejection of corruption and outrage at odious foreign influences with Britain's Brexit vote. For those looking for hidden hands of globalist hegemony, there are plenty of clues in published accounts before impeachment was begun. In addition to everything explored in this feature story, here are two more sets of quotes to stimulate thought and debate. First, in "The Guardian" from 2013:
"Fears that the U.S. – and its British ally – have used 'national security' to justify infringements on individual rights were strengthened last month when [Guardian journalist Glenn href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/sep/09/nsa-spying-brazil-oil-petrobras"] Greenwald's partner, the Brazilian, David Miranda, was detained at London's Heathrow Airport under UK anti-terrorism laws, after the British government had consulted with the US."
(You may recall that Edward Snowden gave a top secret NSA file to Glenn Greenwald.)
"This disquiet is likely to spread to new sectors of society with evidence that the NSA is targeting the state-run Brazilian company that has access to many of the country's most valuable natural assets."
And the Wall Street Journal in 2010:
"The financial crisis and global recession have made it much more difficult for those who believe in free-market capitalism to make their case to those who don't. China's strong economic rebound, America's high unemployment and financial volatility in Europe have all cast doubts on the free-market model.
"U.S. policy-makers might respond to these challenges by building new barriers to foreign investment, particularly from state-owned companies. This could provoke a nationalist backlash within some of these emerging-market countries. As their share of global markets grow, countries that rely on state capitalism to extend their economic and political influence may begin to do business almost exclusively with one another, at the expense of multinational companies.
"The U.S., European Union, Japan, Canada and Australia are likely to find common cause over the next decade in protecting themselves against the worst effects of this trend. Countries that favor state capitalism will do more business with one another. These two economic blocs will compete for better political and trade relations with states like India, Brazil and Mexico, which have elements of both models. These are the rivalries that will shape the next generation in international politics."
My take, having researched this since May, when impeachment started?
Dilma Rousseff had pushed social reform policies that extreme capitalists regarded as socialism. That brand of extremists also always demands that any business or industry in which they invest, or from which they derive profit, must be entitled to "freedom from regulation." Petrobras, despite its 57% government ownership, has been the poster child for a completely unregulated company. As with another dangerous figure—avowed democratic socialist and pro-regulation, pro-return-to-Glass-Steagall, anti-oligarch, tax-the-rich—Bernie Sanders, it's too risky not to bring down such champions of the nanny state.
Thus, it's not a "Brazilian thing." Not at all. Machiavelli is alive and well and he doesn't spend all his time destroying the rain forest.