Since the Brazilian Senate voted to impeach President Dilma Rousseff last month, the country of Brazil has made a sharp turn to the right (politically). Millions of Brazilians have taken to the streets in protest of the impeachment proceedings (calling them an administrative coup) and demanding that democracy be restored to their nation.
Below are 12 things you should know about what is happening in Brazil now.
1. Of all the major players involved in the impeachment proceedings, one of the few not facing criminal charges is Dilma Rousseff.
2. The main architects of impeachment actually said on a phone call – out loud! – that they plotted the impeachment to take the focus off their own pending legal trials for corruption.
3. Despite her low polling numbers, Dilma was reelected in 2014 with more than 50 percent of the vote.
4. The majority of those voting in favor of impeachment did so in the name of God or their families, giving a sign of the rising power of the religious right-wing and evangelicals in a historically Catholic nation.
5. Since his appointment, President Temer has installed an all-white and all-male cabinet. He considered bringing on one woman to head the ministry of Human Rights, but she was controversial because of having voted against access to abortion for rape victims. He then decided to fold the ministry of Human Rights.
6. Seven cabinet members – including Temer himself – are under investigation for corruption. Three have been forced to resign in less than two months, including the anti-corruption minister.
7. In one of his first – and shrewdest – moves, Temer gave members of the judiciary a hefty raise. These are the judges who will rule on his corruption charges as well as impeachment appeals.
8. The crisis is about democracy. A right-wing faction that has lost the last four elections has planned over a period of time to engage in parliamentary procedures to oust the democratically elected (if currently unpopular) president in order to enact policies that did not win at the ballot box.
9. Since the administrative coup, the policies put forward by the interim president have gutted the social programs favored by the majority of Brazilians (per democratic elections) and replaced them with business-friendly neoliberal schemes.
10. Temer has eliminated the Ministry of Women, Racial Equality and Human Rights; the Ministry of Agricultural Development; and the Ministry of Science has been folded into the Ministry of Communications. And in a stroke of the absurd, the new Health Minister has no background in medicine, and the new agricultural minister is an agribusiness soybean tycoon.
11. Since assuming the office of president Michel Temer has been convicted of violating election laws and is therefore banned from running for any political office for the next eight years.
12. Popular movements in Brazil – including farmers, unions, artists, women, students and others – have filled the streets in the millions to say: No to the Coup, Yes to Democracy. We will fight.