BY DONARI YAHZID ’19
On Oct. 25, 2017, the Brazilian Congress voted against sending President Michel Temer to trial for his charges of obstruction of justice and corruption. Congress’ decision to rule in President Temer’s favor will only bring further political instability to Brazil.
Ninety-seven percent of the population was in support of Temer’s conviction, yet only 233 members of Congress voted in favor of a trial, well under the necessary 342 votes, according to U.S. News. To survive the congressional vote, Temer conceded policy and spending limitations, such as lowering fines for environmental damages and attempting to loosen the definition of slave labor. The population was not surprised that Temer’s overt influence on legislators swayed the final vote.
Members of Temer’s party stated that it was necessary to vote in-line with their party’s preferences, regardless of their personal opinions, according to the Washington Post. Others stated that Brazil could only find stability if they kept Temer in office. The common agreement among these members, however, was the negotiation with Temer prior to the voting.
The results of the vote neglect the population’s political interest, and endorse acts of impunity within Brazil’s governing body. Much of Brazil’s growing instability derives from the state’s lack of accountability for higher officials involved in the massacres of indigenous peoples, corruption within big businesses and imposition of military police within favelas. Congress’ decision to dismiss Temer’s criminal charges further exonerates the state’s tolerance of political corruption.
Moving forward, there is hope that Temer will live out his term quietly. Compared to his August hearing, Temer secured fewer votes in October, according to the New York Times, which may imply a decline of his influence on Congress. Citizens are frustrated with the government’s politics, and are not shy to publically voice their opinions, as seen in protests against political corruption in 2014 and 2016.
The national acceptance of impunity in Brazil only reinforces the inequalities faced by members of minority groups and poor communities. Civilians cannot afford for their legislators to tolerate blatant acts of corruption. So as Congress looks to a new year, it should remember who it is charged with serving: Brazil’s citizens.