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It’s impeachment season in Brazil

. Sep 17, 2020
impeachment season brazil Rio de Janeiro State Congress building. Photo: FP

It has become a cliché to say that the pandemic has precipitated processes that already existed. For Richard N. Haass, president of the Council of Foreign Relations, “Covid-19 will not so much change the basic direction of world history as accelerate it.” In the case of Brazilian politics, this accelerated history means a faster process of political degradation. On September 17, a grand total of three separate impeachment proceedings will be voted on by legislators — which could result in the ousting of two state governors and one mayor.

To borrow from Tolstoi, every administration close to impeachment is crumbling in its own way. So we break down what is at stake here.

</p> <figure class="wp-block-image size-large"><img loading="lazy" width="660" height="400" src="https://brazilian.report/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/impeachment-crivella-witzel-moises.jpg" alt="impeachment crivella witzel moises" class="wp-image-49771" srcset="https://brazilian.report/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/impeachment-crivella-witzel-moises.jpg 660w, https://brazilian.report/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/impeachment-crivella-witzel-moises-300x182.jpg 300w, https://brazilian.report/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/impeachment-crivella-witzel-moises-610x370.jpg 610w, https://brazilian.report/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/impeachment-crivella-witzel-moises-600x364.jpg 600w" sizes="(max-width: 660px) 100vw, 660px" /><figcaption>From left to right: Wilson Witzel, Carlos Moisés, Marcelo Crivella</figcaption></figure> <h2>Suspended Rio Governor Wilson Witzel</h2> <p>Of all high-profile politicians facing impeachment, none looks more doomed than Rio de Janeiro&#8217;s suspended Governor Wilson Witzel. He is accused of siphoning funds from the state&#8217;s Covid-19 emergency budget and launder kickbacks through his wife&#8217;s law firm.</p> <p>Back in June, lawmakers opened impeachment proceedings in an <a href="https://brazilian.report/newsletters/brazil-daily/2020/06/11/impeachment-process-against-rio-governor-wilson-witzel/">unprecedented 69-0 vote</a> against Mr. Witzel, showing how politically weak the Governor has become. His suspension also deprives him of his ability to distribute patronage which can be so persuasive in such situations.</p> <p>At this point, a committee of 25 state lawmakers will decide whether or not to start an impeachment trial against Mr. Witzel — and anything other than a green light would be a shocker.</p> <hr class="wp-block-separator"/> <p><em>UPDATE: The committee unanimously voted for the impeachment process to continue, in yet another sign of Mr. Witzel&#8217;s lack of political support.</em></p> <hr class="wp-block-separator"/> <p>Mr. Witzel&#8217;s <a href="https://brazilian.report/podcast/2020/09/09/explaining-brazil-podcast-rio-de-janeiros-descent-into-hell/">downfall is set to be as meteoric as his rise</a>. In Rio&#8217;s 2018 gubernatorial race, he went from unknown candidate to winner in a matter of days, riding the conservative wave headed by Jair Bolsonaro. But after presenting himself as a possible challenger in the 2022 presidential election, relations between the two soured.</p> <h2>Rio de Janeiro Mayor Marcelo Crivella</h2> <p>Marcello Crivella has proven to have many political lives. Despite overseeing an administration deemed as &#8220;<a href="https://brazilian.report/power/2019/12/19/rio-de-janeiro-catastrophe-under-mayor-marcelo-crivella/">catastrophic</a>&#8221; by almost everyone, he has escaped four impeachment requests — the last of which was <a href="https://www.poder360.com.br/brasil/camara-do-rio-rejeita-impeachment-e-mantem-crivella-prefeito/">voted down just two weeks ago</a>.</p> <p>This time around, Mr. Crivella is accused of running a corruption ring inside City Hall, using evangelical churches (he is a preacher ) to launder the embezzled money.&nbsp;</p> <p>City councilors will vote on whether or not to kick-off an impeachment process, but despite the ongoing criminal investigation against the mayor, he is set to dodge impeachment yet again. Mr. Crivella is likely to limp his way into the November election, when he will ask for a new four-year term.</p> <hr class="wp-block-separator"/> <p><em>UPDATE: In a 24-20 vote, city councilors rejected the impeachment request, with six abstentions. </em></p> <hr class="wp-block-separator"/> <h2>Santa Catarina Governor Carlos Moisés</h2> <p>Conservative Governor Carlos Moisés is accused of fiscal irresponsibility, for granting wage bumps to state prosecutors without authorization from lawmakers.</p> <p>The impeachment process against him, as a matter of fact, is at a later stage than those of Messrs. Witzel and Crivella. A report recommending his ousting has been approved by a special committee, and now a roll call vote will seal his fate.</p> <p>It will take 27 of the State Congress&#8217; 40 members to remove Mr. Moisés.</p> <hr class="wp-block-separator"/> <p><em>UPDATE: Santa Catarina lawmakers voted in favor of opening impeachment proceedings against Carlos Moisés. Now, a committee formed by five lawmakers, five state judges, and the president of the Santa Catarina Court of Justice will have five days to analyze the accusations against the governor.</em> </p> <hr class="wp-block-separator"/> <p>

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Débora Álvares

Débora Álvares has worked as a political reporter for newspapers Folha de S.Paulo, O Estado de S.Paulo, Globo News, HuffPost, among others. She specializes in reporting on Brasilia, working behind-the-scenes coverage at the Executive, Legislative, and Judiciary branches of government.

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