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Brazil Senate opens impeachment trial against Rousseff

The impeachment trial of Brazil’s first woman president Dilma Rousseff got underway on Thursday with high expectations that the suspended leader of Latin America’s biggest economy will be sacked within days.

The Senate trial was opened by Supreme Court president Ricardo Lewandowski half-an-hour late in the blue-carpeted chamber at 9:30 am. The proceedings in the capital Brasilia were considered almost sure to result in Rousseff, 68, being found guilty of cooking the budget books to mask the depth of economic problems during her 2014 reelection campaign.

If she is removed from office, her former vice-president turned rival Michel Temer will be sworn in to serve until 2018, shifting Brazil to the right after 13 years of leftist rule under Rousseff’s Workers’ Party. Rousseff, who was tortured and imprisoned by the 1970s dictatorship for membership in a Marxist urban guerrilla group, swore to resist what she calls a coup. 

“We will fight to reinforce democracy in our country with the same force that I fought against the military dictatorship,” she told supporters in Brasilia on Wednesday.

The trial will climax Monday when the president, who was suspended from office in May, addresses the Senate herself for the first time. A vote is then expected within 48 hours, with a two-third majority of the 81 senators required to bring Rousseff down.

Senator Raimundo Lira, a Temer ally and strong backer of impeachment, said senators “have already made up their minds and I don’t think there will be any change at the vote.” 
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