Impeached Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff appeared at the Brazil Conference at Harvard and M.I.T. last weekend, warning listeners that Brazil’s democracy was at risk from far-right supporters of the country’s prior military dictatorship. In an interview with The New York Times’ Ernesto Londoño, Rousseff spoke at length about the aftermath of being impeached, Brazil’s future, and the “eminently anti-woman government” that took power after her ouster.
Rousseff had endured an impeachment process in which more than 150 politicians implicated in crimes but protected by their status as members of parliament voted for her removal from office — including the man who led the impeachment process, Eduardo Cunha, who was recently sentenced to 15 years in prison for corruption and money laundering.
One far right politician, Jair Bolsonaro, dedicated his vote to impeach in honor of Carlos Brilhante Ustra, the head of the Doi-Codi torture unit during the dictatorship era. Rousseff, a former guerilla fighter, had been among those tortured by the dictatorship.
Speaking with Londoño, Rousseff described the impeachment process as a “coup,” and suggested that the present course of Brazilian politics represented “an even bigger threat” to her than “the physical threat of being jailed and tortured” during the dictatorship. Noting that her successor, President Michel Temer, had immediately appointed a cabinet composed entirely of “white, wealthy old men,” Rousseff suggested there had been a “very misogynist element in the coup” against her.
“They accused me of being overly tough and harsh, while a man would have been considered firm, strong,” said Rousseff. “Or they would say I was too emotional and fragile, when a man would have been considered sensitive. I was seen as someone too obsessed with work, while a man would have been considered hard-working … I was called a cow about 600,000 times.”
The Q&A with Rousseff is a fascinating one and she goes on to discuss several other topics, including what she sees as the country’s greatest cause for concern.
Read the full story at The New York Times.