Brazil's Rousseff slams 'fascist' attempts to remove her

Brazil's Rousseff slams 'fascist' attempts to remove her, says crisis should be resolved democratically

Photo by: AP
Photo by: AP

Brazil’s President Dilma Rousseff speaks during a visit to ground infrastructure works for Geostationary Satellite Operation Defense and Strategic Communications for the 2016 Olympic Games, in Brasilia, Brazil, Wednesday, March 23, 2016.

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff on Thursday condemned the "fascist methods" of opponents seeking her ouster and said the country's current political crisis would leave a "scar" if not resolved democratically.

In an interview with several foreign media groups, Rousseff said she was being pressured to resign because her rivals wanted "to avoid the difficulty of removing -- unduly, illegally and criminally -- a legitimately elected president from power".

The leftist leader earlier this week ruled out stepping down despite mass protests and impeachment proceedings in Congress.

In the interview with The Guardian, The New York Times, Le Monde, El Pais and Argentina's Pagina 12, Rousseff said any attempt to remove her without legal basis would represent a "coup".

"I am not comparing the coup here to the military coups of the past, but it would be a breaking of the democratic order of Brazil," she said, in comments reported by the Guardian.

She said any such move would "leave a deep scar on Brazilians' political life".

Rousseff, an ex-guerrilla tortured under Brazil's military dictatorship, said she was in favour of protests because she was from "a generation in which if you opened your mouth you could go to jail".

She emphasised, though, that the estimated three million people who protested against her in the largest rally so far represented less than two percent of Brazil's population.

Demonstrators call for the impeachment of Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff and protest the naming of former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva as her new chief of staff, at Planalto presidential palace in Brasilia, Brazil, Wednesday, March 16, 2016.

The impeachment case is based on accusations that Rousseff doctored the government's accounts to boost public spending during her 2014 re-election campaign and hide the depth of a recession last year.

She denies her actions were illegal or different from standard practice in previous administrations.

Her opponents are also seeking to link her to a multi-billion-dollar corruption scandal at state oil company Petrobras, but investigators have not accused her and she vehemently denies involvement.

With her coalition splintering amid the crisis, Rousseff called former president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva to the rescue last week, naming him her chief of staff.

Demonstrators march alongside large, inflatable dolls depicting Brazil's former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva in prison garb and current President Dilma Rousseff dressed as a thief, with a presidential sash that reads "Impeachment".

But the move blew up in her face when the judge heading the Petrobras investigation, Sergio Moro, released a wire-tapped phone call suggesting the appointment was really aimed at saving the ex-president from arrest on corruption charges.

"Violating privacy breaks democracy because it breaks the right of every citizen to a private life," she said, banging the table as she made her point, the Guardian reported.

The interview came as the United Nations office on women's rights in Brazil criticised "sexist political violence" in the campaign to oust Rousseff, the country's first female president.

"Why do they want me to resign?" she asked in the interview. "Because I'm a woman, fragile. I am not fragile. That is not my life".

In a parallel statement, the United Nations office on women's rights in Brazil said that President Dilma Rousseff has been the victim of "sexist political violence" by opponents seeking to oust her.

"No political disagreement or protest can justify the trivialisation of gender violence -- a patriarchal and misogynous practice that invalidates human dignity," Nadine Gasman, head of UN Women in Brazil said.

Gasman called on Rousseff's opponents to "safeguard democracy and the rule of law."

Despite ongoing protests calling for Rousseff's impeachment, thousands of others demonstrated Thursday night in support of the embattled president.

Organisers of the march in Sao Paulo, which is Brazil's biggest city and financial capital, said about 30,000 people joined in, while police estimated 17,000.

TRTWorld and agencies