The fallout from former Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff's impeachment on Wednesday began almost immediately, as now-official President Michel Temer kicked off a neoliberal agenda and leftist Latin American governments recalled their ambassadors to protest what they said was an attempt to stifle populism and peace.
Brazil's Senate voted 61-20 to oust Rousseff on charges of using loans from public banks to cover budget deficits, ending more than 13 years of progressive governance by the Workers' Party. In response, the leaders of Venezuela, Ecuador, Bolivia, and El Salvador withdrew their ambassadors in Brazil.
"This coup d'etat isn't just against Dilma. It is against Latin America and the Caribbean. It is against us," said Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro. "This is an attack against the popular, progressive, leftist movement."
El Salvador also released a statement that warned Rousseff's ouster "represented a serious threat for Latin America's democracy, peace, justice, development, and integration."
And the Cuban Ministry of Foreign Affairs said it "strongly rejects the parliamentary and judicial coup d'état perpetrated against President Dilma Rousseff," adding, "What happened in Brazil is another expression of the offensive of imperialist forces and the oligarchy against the revolutionary and progressive governments of Latin America and the Caribbean which threatens the peace and stability of nations."
Meanwhile, as Brazilians expressed anger over Rousseff's impeachment and about the country's economy, Temer signaled he would push ahead with a far-reaching conservative agenda focused on privatization and cuts to social welfare programs.
The New York Times reports:
Amid the anger and economic turmoil, Mr. Temer is vowing to push ahead with a range of politically risky economic reforms, including privatization of public companies, limits on public spending, and an overhaul of a pension system that currently allows Brazilians to retire at an average age of 54.
[....] "Temer's government is requesting sacrifice from the population, but has pushed for wage increases for public servants who already enjoy job stability," said Marcos Lisboa, the president of Insper, one of Brazil's top business schools.
The Cuban ministry also critically noted that most of the senators who voted to impeach Rousseff are themselves under investigation for corruption, while there was virtually no evidence implicating Rousseff.
In fact, Temer himself, who previously served as Rousseff's vice president and became leader without a single vote being cast, will be unable to run in the next election because he was found guilty of violating campaign finance rules.
As The Nation reported in late August:
A recent report by the Public Prosecutor’s office found that Rousseff is not guilty of any crime. In contrast, many of the pro-coup deputies are under indictment for political corruption which has engulfed about 60 percent of the members of the lower house. Temer himself, for example, is accused of accepting 1.5 million reals (about $430,000) in bribes from a construction company doing business with the Brazilian oil giant Petrobras. A series of leaked wiretap recordings have also revealed that some of Rousseff's main rivals conspired with the Supreme Court to oust her and stall the corruption investigations.
Pulitzer-prize winning journalist Glenn Greenwald, who is based in Brazil, told Salon after the impeachment, "It's both sad and infuriating to watch a young, vibrant democracy abandon the fundamental principle—the people who decide who leads them—and install a right-wing faction that has been repeatedly rejected by voters, and which is both unelected and unelectable."