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                                                                                    Saturday 16 April 2016

Brazil’s lower house begins presidential impeachment debate 

JENNY BARCHFIELD                 Brazil’s Attorney General Jose Eduardo Cardozo, backed by posters behind that say in Portuguese                                    Petrobras, as well as other
Associated Press                 “Impeachment without a crime is a coup,” defends Brazil’s President Dilma Rousseff during a de-                                    schemes.
BRASILIA, Brazil (AP) — The      bate on impeaching her in the Chamber of Deputies in Brasilia, Brazil, Friday, April 15, 2016.                                     On Friday, a report in the
lower chamber of Brazil’s                                                                                                                                           respected Estado de S.
Congress on Friday be-                                                                                                                     (AP Photo/Eraldo Peres)  Paulo newspaper quoted
gan a raucous debate                                                                                                                                                plea bargain testimony as
on whether to impeach            that isn’t a crime?” Junior                                                                                                        suggesting Cunha had re-
President Dilma Rousseff, a      told the body.                                                                                                                     ceived more than $4 mil-
question that underscores        Solicitor General Jose Edu-                                                                                                        lion in bribes as part of a
the deep polarization in         ardo Cardozo contended                                                                                                             Rio de Janeiro port reno-
Latin America’s largest          exactly that, warning law-                                                                                                         vation project tied to the
country and most-powerful        makers in his impassioned                                                                                                          August Olympics. The re-
economy.                         speech before the cham-                                                                                                            port said Ricardo Pernam-
If lawmakers approved the        ber that because Rousseff                                                                                                          buco Junior, of the Carioca
measure in a vote slated         hadn’t committed any                                                                                                               Engenharia construction
for Sunday, it gets sent to      crime, her impeachment                                                                                                             company, told investiga-
the Senate, where an im-         would constitute an act                                                                                                            tors the company paid
peachment trial could take       of “violence without prec-                                                                                                         Cunha 1.5 percent of the
place, prompting the presi-      edent” against democracy                                                                                                           deal in kickbacks. The re-
dent’s suspension from of-       and the Brazilian people.                                                                                                          port included spreadsheets
fice.                            “Violence has been com-                                                                                                            that appeared to show the
The atmosphere in the            mitted against the demo-                                                                                                           company funneled pay-
lower Chamber of Depu-           cratic state,” Cardozo                                                                                                             outs amounting to more
ties was electric, as Rous-      shouted, gesticulating wild-                                                                                                       than $4 million to Cunha
seff’s critics festooned         ly.                                                                                                                                through several accounts
themselves with yellow and       Flanked by supporters                                                                                                              abroad. q 
green ribbons and bran-          holding signs showing the
dished placards reading          constitution being ripped
“Impeachment Now!”               apart, Cardozo insisted the
Lawmakers backing im-            whole process was an act
peachment allege Rous-           of personal vengeance
seff’s administration violat-    against Rousseff by the
ed fiscal rules, using sleight   house Speaker Eduardo
of hand accounting in a          Cunha.
bid to shore up public sup-      The driving force behind
port. However, many of           the impeachment, Cunha
those pushing for impeach-       has been implicated in the
ment face grave accusa-          so-called Car Wash probe
tions of corruption them-        into corruption at Brazil’s
selves, prompting Rousseff       state-run oil company
and her supporters to de-
cry the whole process as a
bold-faced power grab by
her foes.
Rousseff’s defenders in-
sist she did nothing illegal,
pointing out that similar ac-
counting techniques were
used by previous presi-
Miguel Reale Junior, author
of the impeachment peti-
tion, said Rousseff’s maneu-
vering directly led to the ills
plaguing the recession-hit
nation today, such as high
inflation and the Brazil-
ian real’s precipitous slide
against the U.S. dollar in re-
cent months.
“Are you going to tell me
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