The First Report Team
On October 26th, 2014, Dilma Rousseff stepped up to the podium looking out at the people of Brasilia, Brazil. After a narrow runoff victory by a vote margin of less than 4%, Rousseff’s speech was not to celebrate, but to convince the other half of her country’s people that she was still worthy of leading them. Having hosted the Brazil World Cup that same year, Rousseff was feeling the pressure more than ever; she was in the spot light of both her people, and the world.
Much went wrong since her peak in 2011, when she received the Woodrow Wilson award for public service and was inducted into the Council of Women World Leaders. By 2014, Brazil was a far cry from its early 2000’s status as one of the world’s next great emerging markets. Droughts were hammering the country’s agriculture and water supplies, while rumblings of economic slowdown in key trading partners such as China presented a dismal outlook for future of oil, Brazil’s most cherished export.
Rousseff was heavily vested in oil, herself. Having served as chairwoman of the oil giant, Petrobras, between 2003 and 2011, many citizens suspected her of foul play in deal-making and financial reporting on both the company’s and the Brazilian government’s behalf. Adding more fuel to the public relations fire, the federal ‘Operation Car Wash’ was now in full swing and looking into Brazilian crime. The operation began as an anti money laundering campaign, but was now investigating corruption between Petrobras and Rousseff’s administration.
Fast-forward two years, and Rousseff’s promise to fix Brazil has failed. The country's currency fell in value by almost 50% relative to USD since 2013, while its government bonds have skyrocketed. Ms. President, herself, is about to enter the 9th circle of political hell as both Brazil’s congress and Senate have found her guilty of ‘fiscal pedaling’, an accounting trick in which Rousseff allegedly cooked her country’s books to appear as if Brazil had a budget surplus while it ripped-off domestic banks.
As Rousseff awaits her fate in the final impeachment trial, another politician has taken the reigns of the administration. Michel Temer has been the acting president since Rousseff stepped down on May 12th, 2016. Serving as Rousseff’s Vice President, Temer is also suspected to be connected to the crimes that Operation Car Wash is investigating, and public approval of him is low. His latest cabinet appointee, Fatima Palaes, vouched to “glorify the name of the lord in congress”- a quote that doesn’t ring well with many voters.
Temer is a dealmaker, and is known in Brazil to form strong coalitions, particularly with Brazil’s most prominent political party, the PMBD. The party recently withdrew from the current coalition after a feud between Temer and Rousseff. Although the PMBD has just created an outline for Brazil’s economic reform policy, it is unlikely that the party will see its suggestions manifest into policy.
When the torch for Brazil’s Summer Olympics lights in Maracana Stadium on August 5th, Rousseff and Temer will once again stand front and center on the world stage. Brazil’s actions in the coming months could either portray the country as a reformed and recovering nation, or show the world they are stuck in a rout for the long run.