THE Archbishop of Brazil, the Most Revd Francisco de Assis da Silva, has expressed his support for the President, Dilma Rousseff, after more than two-thirds of a hostile and corruption-fuelled congress voted to impeach her.
President Rousseff, of the Workers’ Party, is battling to save her presidency less than halfway through her mandate, after the lower house of Brazil’s parliament accused her, last month, of manipulating government accounts to fill budget holes.
The majority of the more than 150 deputies who voted against her are implicated in criminal activity, but protected by their status as MPs. The house speaker and instigator of the impeachment process, Eduardo Cunha, who is an Evangelical conservative, has himself been accused of corruption and lying.
Archbishop Assis da Silva said in an interview with the Anglican Mission agency Us. last week that he is continuing to support Ms Rousseff and her party in their efforts to improve the welfare of the poor, and reduce the number of families living below the poverty line.
“What we are seeing is the emergence of a political alliance between Brazil’s wealthy elite and Christian conservatives in an attempt to stop social advances for the poor. These people are opposing legislation that supports women and education for all.”
He went on: “I find it shocking that MPs are using the name of God to justify their attempts to impeach President Rousseff. They are trying to give a religious justification for their attempts to block social-welfare initiatives being put forward by the President.”
The right-wing opposition, backed by Christian fundamentalists, secured its motion to remove the elected head of state by 367 to 146. The case will be considered by the upper house later this month.
Among the yes voters were Paulo Maluf, who is accused of conspiracy, and Nilton Capixaba, who is accused of money-laundering. Casting his vote against the President, Silas Camara, who is under investigation for falsifying documents and embezzling public funds, was reported to cry out: “For the love of God, yes!”
President Rousseff, who came to power in 2003, and is the first woman to hold office, is expected to be suspended while the charges — which she denies — are pending. “I am a victim of a plot,” she told press in New York, last month.
The Anglican Episcopal Church of Brazil has said that the vote was motivated by political opposition to “social policies that have changed the lives of millions of Brazilians in recent years”, and not by evidence of unlawful conduct.
It has also acknowledged that “the impeachment is steered by political leaders, many of which are being investigated for corruption, [and] are well-known defenders of the business sector, which historically has benefited from public funds.”
A former a trade-union leader in Brazil, the Revd Joabe Cavalcanti, who now serves as a trustee for Us., said: “We are witnessing an attempted coup by right-wing politicians who represent the interests of Brazil’s wealthy minority and want to put a stop to social welfare for the poor.”
On Wednesday, President Rousseff’s predecessor and mentor, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, was also implicated in the political crisis, after reports that he has been charged with bribing a former executive at Petrobras, the state-run oil company at the centre of Brazil’s largest ever corruption investigation.