Call It a 'Coup': Leaked Transcripts Detail How Elite Orchestrated Overthrow in Brazil

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Call It a 'Coup': Leaked Transcripts Detail How Elite Orchestrated Overthrow in Brazil

Revelations detail 'national pact' between government, military, and oil executives

Activists demonstrate against Brazil's interim President Michel Temer and in support of suspended President Dilma Rousseff in Sao Paulo, Brazil, on May 17, 2016. The banner reads "Dilma stays, Temer out" (Credit: Reuters/Nacho Doce)

Activists demonstrate against Brazil's interim President Michel Temer and in support of suspended President Dilma Rousseff in Sao Paulo, Brazil, on May 17, 2016. The banner reads "Dilma stays, Temer out" (Credit: Reuters/Nacho Doce)

Confirming suspicions that the ouster of Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff is, in fact, a coup designed to eradicate a wide corruption probe, Brazil's largest newspaper on Monday published damning evidence of a "national pact" between a top government official and oil executive.

It is unclear how Folha de São Paulo obtained the transcripts of the 75-minute phone conversation between the newly-installed Planning Minister Romero Jucá, a senator at the time, and former oil executive Sergio Machado. But the discussion reportedly took place in March, just weeks before Brazil's lower House voted to impeach the democratically-elected Rousseff.

Both Jucá and Machado were targets of an ongoing internal investigation known as Operation Car Wash, which sought to expose money laundering and corruption at the state-controlled oil company Petrobras, which allegedly accepted bribes in exchange for contracts.

The transcripts, according to Intercept reporting, reveals "explicit plotting" between the two, who "agree that removing Dilma is the only means for ending the corruption investigation," as well as reported collusion with some of Brazil's "most powerful national institutions," including officials in the military and Supreme Court. 

Summarizing the report, Intercept journalists Glenn Greenwald, Andrew Fishman, and David Miranda write:

The crux of this plot is what Jucá calls “a national pact” – involving all of Brazil’s most powerful institutions – to leave Michel Temer in place as President (notwithstanding his multiple corruption scandals) and to kill the corruption investigation once Dilma is removed. In the words of Folha, Jucá made clear that impeachment will “end the pressure from the media and other sectors to continue the Car Wash investigation.”

Miranda, among others, had suspected that such a motive was behind the ouster. But on Monday he and his colleagues declared the transcripts were "proof that this had nothing to do with preserving Brazilian democracy and everything to do with destroying it."

And while the political crisis in Brazil has been widely reported in mainstream press as an "impeachment," Greenwald, Fishman, and Miranda argue that the new reporting gives ample credence for news outlets to refer to it as a "coup." Pointing to some of the most damning aspects of the transcripts, they write:

The transcripts contain two extraordinary revelations that should lead all media outlets to seriously consider whether they should call what took place in Brazil a “coup”: a term Dilma and her supporters have used for months. When discussing the plot to remove Dilma as a means of ending the Car Wash investigation, Jucá said the Brazilian military is supporting the plot: “I am talking to the generals, the military commanders. They are fine with this, they said they will guarantee it.” He also said the military is “monitoring the Landless Workers Movement (Movimento dos Trabalhadores Rurais Sem Terra (MST)),” the social movement of rural workers who support PT’s efforts of land reform and inequality reduction and have led the protests against impeachment.

The second blockbuster revelation – perhaps even more significant – is Jucá’s statement that he spoke with and secured the involvement of numerous justices on Brazil’s Supreme Court, the institution that impeachment defenders have repeatedly pointed to as vesting the process with legitimacy and to deny that Dilma’s removal is a coup.

Jucá on Monday confirmed the authenticity of the transcripts but said his comments were taken out of context.

Meanwhile, demonstrators camped outside the home of Interim President Temer after a protest on Sunday organized by Frente Povo Sem Medo, a coalition of Brazil's leftist movements.

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