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Brazilian Senators Less Sure About Rousseff's Removal

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Brazil's Senate must decide whether to remove suspended president Dilma Rousseff from office. Now, some lawmakers are reconsidering their opinions about the embattled president.
Brazil's Senate must decide whether to remove suspended president Dilma Rousseff from office. Now, some lawmakers are reconsidering their opinions about the embattled president.

Increasing political problems in Brazil have weakened efforts to oust suspended President Dilma Rousseff.

It appeared that Brazil’s Senate would vote to remove Rousseff from office after the lower house voted to suspend her in May. She is accused of breaking budget rules before her re-election in 2014.

However, a series of resignations and mistakes have raised doubts in some lawmakers. The problems appear to support Rousseff’s claim that she is a victim of a coup, or an attempt to seize power by a small group.

One undecided senator, Cristovam Buarque, told Reuters, “The presidency will be decided by two or three votes.”

Former Brazil striker and current senator Romario in the Brazilian Federal Senate in Brasilia.

Former Brazil striker and current senator Romario in the Brazilian Federal Senate in Brasilia.

Last week, the Senator Romario de Souza Faria, the former soccer star known simply as Romario, stepped down from the impeachment committee.

News media reported that Romario said he was no longer sure he would vote to remove Rousseff from office.

Missteps by the government of temporary president Michel Temer have increased doubts. Temer has appointed a cabinet of all white males. Groups around the country criticized the move.

Also, the investigation into Brazil’s state-owned oil company Petrobras continues to hurt the temporary government.

Brazil's acting President Michel Temer, right, talks with his Economy Minister Herinque Meirelles.

Brazil's acting President Michel Temer, right, talks with his Economy Minister Herinque Meirelles.

Reuters news agency reports that a government lawyer has requested the arrest of four top members of Termer’s Brazilian Democratic Movement Party, the PMDB. The party has the largest number of lawmakers in Brazil’s legislature.

The investigation has centered on illegal payments from Petrobras to members of Rousseff’s Workers Party. But it has affected officials of the temporary government that replaced Rousseff’s.

Members of Temer’s team to improve the economy have stepped down because of the release of secret audio recordings. The country’s Planning and Transparency ministers resigned last month.

The Senate trial takes place as Brazil prepares to host the 2016 Summer Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.

However, temporary president Temer’s attempt to get a verdict in the trial in July, rather than August, failed on Monday, according to Reuter’s news service.

That means the verdict could come in the middle of August as the games are taking place.

The country also is battling a public health crisis. The Zika virus, linked to a serious birth defect and a disease of the nervous system, has been declared a worldwide health emergency.

The World Health Organization has warned pregnant women not to travel to places where Zika has been detected, including Brazil. The country is also considering emergency loans to Rio de Janeiro and two other states because of serious financial deficits.

I’m Mario Ritter.

Mario Ritter adapted this report from Reuters and AP materials. Kathleen Struck was the editor.

Words in This Story

impeachment n. the process of approving a trial to remove an official from office

coup n. an attempt to seize power by a small group

missteps – n. actions taken that are considered mistakes

transparency -- n. see through, clear

verdict – n. a judgement made by a jury or legal body

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