News / Americas

    Brazil's Rousseff Focuses on Economy in Face of Impeachment

    FILE - In this Oct. 6, 2014 file photo, Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff listens to a question during a campaign news conference at the Alvorada Palace, in Brasilia, Brazil.
    FILE - In this Oct. 6, 2014 file photo, Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff listens to a question during a campaign news conference at the Alvorada Palace, in Brasilia, Brazil.
    Associated Press

    With her job on the line, Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff is spending January developing an economic plan she hopes will restore faith in her leadership and weaken looming impeachment proceedings against her.

     The once-popular successor of former President Luiz Inacio "Lula'' da Silva has fallen so far that it's unclear whether she can recover. And she'll have little room to maneuver once Congress reconvenes in Brasilia in February: Her approval ratings hover in the single digits, both friendly and hostile lawmakers are restive and Latin America's largest economy is expected to continue contracting in 2016.
     
    "Dilma will have one month with no major problems blowing up in Brasilia to come up with a plan to revive a faltering economy,'' said Claudio Couto from Brazilian think tank Fundacao Getulio Vargas. "The key is to bring some confidence back.''
     
    That confidence has been shaken by a series of ballooning crises over the past year. Major scandals, some of which touch Rousseff, have combined with tanking commodity prices to slam the economy, which has suffered credit-rating downgrades, a sharp currency devaluation and 10-percent annual inflation.
     
    "I can't wait to stop hearing bad news from Brasilia,'' said Gabriela Malvezzi, a 28-year-old psychologist in Rio. "I don't even turn on the TV anymore. All that I wanted was for 2015 to end.''
     
    Nelson Barbosa, who took over as finance minister in December, is expected to propose a stimulus package and fiscal reforms over the next several weeks.
     
    Ideas being floated include infrastructure projects, tax breaks for home purchases and a car-swap program to encourage buying new vehicles. Some are proposing a tax on banking transactions and a reform of the country's pension system to keep workers in the job market an additional five years. Depending on the sector, women now can retire between 50 and 55 years old, while men can do the same between 55 and 60.
     
    Pension reform is sure to draw the ire of Rousseff's base. But analysts say she must show she is serious about tackling spending, and that she has little to lose.
     
    "Let's say she tries something and it doesn't work. So what?'' said Peter Schechter, director of the Atlantic Council's Adrienne Arsht Latin America Center. "Does that mean she goes from 8 percent to 7 percent approval ratings?''
     
    Regardless of what Rousseff proposes, Congress may not go along. The Workers' Party has only 59 of the 513 members of the lower house and traditionally has passed legislation by forming coalitions with other large blocs, which may find little incentive to work with the president now.
     
    It's also unclear whether even reforms can slow the tidal wave of bad economic news. Layoff announcements, from sugar mills to steel factories, are a daily occurrence. Even Wal-Mart, one of the largest supermarket chains in Brazil, said it would close 30 stores in January.
     
    A wild card is lower house Speaker Eduardo Cunha, Rousseff's long-time nemesis who has led the impeachment movement based on allegations that her administration used state-run banks to fill budget gaps. Rousseff has denied wrongdoing.
     
    Cunha has said no new bills will be voted on until lawmakers decide on the makeup of the commission to consider impeachment. If the commission allows a full-chamber vote, Rousseff's opponents will need a two-thirds majority to temporarily oust her while it moves to the Senate.
     
    But Cunha has his own problems: He has charged been with accepting millions of dollars in bribes for building contracts in a graft scandal involving state-run oil company Petrobras, allegations he strongly rejects.
     
    Attorney General Rodrigo Janot has requested that Cunha be arrested and removed from office, which will be decided by the Supreme Court.
     
    Analysts are also closely watching Vice President Michel Temer, head of the large centrist Democratic Movement party, who has not voiced support for Rousseff over her potential impeachment. He has said he'll spend January giving lectures and traveling, widely interpreted as signs that he no longer wants to be part of Rousseff's government.
     
    "Dilma is between a rock and a hard place,'' said Christopher Garman of the Eurasia Group. "And if you have inaction, the economic crisis will deepen.''
     

    You May Like

    Video Obama Remembers Fallen Troops for Memorial Day

    President urges Americans this holiday weekend to 'take a moment and offer a silent word of prayer or public word of thanks' to country's veterans

    Upsurge of Migratory Traffic Across Sahara From West to North Africa

    A report by the International Organization for Migration finds more than 60,000 migrants have transited through the Agadez region of Niger between February and April

    UN Blocks Access to Journalist Advocacy Group

    United Nations has rejected bid from nonprofit journalist advocacy group that wanted 'consultative status,' ranking that would have given them greater access to UN meetings

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trendi
    X
    May 27, 2016 5:57 AM
    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trend

    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Reactions to Trump's Success Polarized Abroad

    What seemed impossible less than a year ago is now almost a certainty. New York real estate mogul Donald Trump has won the number of delegates needed to secure the Republican presidential nomination. The prospect has sparked as much controversy abroad as it has in the United States. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Drawings by Children in Hiroshima Show Hope and Peace

    On Friday, President Barack Obama will visit Hiroshima, Japan, the first American president to do so while in office. In August 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city to force Japan's surrender in World War II. Although their city lay in ruins, some Hiroshima schoolchildren drew pictures of hope and peace. The former students and their drawings are now part of a documentary called “Pictures from a Hiroshima Schoolyard.” VOA's Deborah Block has the story.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese Rapper Performs for Obama

    A prominent young Vietnamese artist told President Obama said she faced roadblocks as a woman rapper, and asked the president about government support for the arts. He asked her to rap, and he even offered to provide a base beat for her. Watch what happened.
    Video

    Video Roots Run Deep for Tunisia's Dwindling Jewish Community

    This week, hundreds of Jewish pilgrims are defying terrorist threats to celebrate an ancient religious festival on the Tunisian island of Djerba. The festivities cast a spotlight on North Africa's once-vibrant Jewish population that has all but died out in recent decades. Despite rising threats of militant Islam and the country's battered economy, one of the Arab world's last Jewish communities is staying put and nurturing a new generation. VOA’s Lisa Bryant reports.
    Video

    Video Meet Your New Co-Worker: The Robot

    Increasing numbers of robots are joining the workforce, as companies scale back and more processes become automated. The latest robots are flexible and collaborative, built to work alongside humans as opposed to replacing them. VOA’s Tina Trinh looks at the next generation of automated employees helping out their human colleagues.
    Video

    Video Wheelchair Technology in Tune With Times

    Technologies for the disabled, including wheelchair technology, are advancing just as quickly as everything else in the digital age. Two new advances in wheelchairs offer improved control and a more comfortable fit. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Baby Boxes Offer Safe Haven for Unwanted Children

    No one knows exactly how many babies are abandoned worldwide each year. The statistic is a difficult one to determine because it is illegal in most places. Therefore unwanted babies are often hidden and left to die. But as Erika Celeste reports from Woodburn, Indiana, a new program hopes to make surrendering infants safer for everyone.
    Video

    Video California Celebration Showcases Local Wines, Balloons

    Communities in the U.S. often hold festivals to show what makes them special. In California, for example, farmers near Fresno celebrate their figs and those around Gilmore showcase their garlic. Mike O'Sullivan reports that the wine-producing region of Temecula offers local vintages in an annual festival where rides on hot-air balloons add to the excitement.
    Video

    Video US Elementary School Offers Living Science Lessons

    Zero is not a good score on a test at school. But Discovery Elementary is proud of its “net zero” rating. Net zero describes a building in which the amount of energy provided by on-site renewable sources equals the amount of energy the building uses. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, the innovative features in the building turn the school into a teaching tool, where kids can't help but learn about science and sustainability. Faith Lapidus narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora

    More Americas News

    'El Chapo' Lawyers Split on Extradition Case

    Lawyers can't agree on staving off extradition to US

    Colombia Rebels Release Three Journalists

    All three, including a Spanish correspondent working on a story about coca growers, were released Friday

    WHO Dismisses Changing Summer Olympics for Zika

    WHO says canceling or postponing the Olympics will not alter the international spread of Zika virus

    Global Growth the 'Urgent Priority', G-7 Leaders Conclude

    A final statement of addressed broad issues facing the global economy while glossing over a difference of opinions among leaders over fiscal stimulus

    Diplomat Found Dead in El Salvador

    Body of Panama's honorary consul is found in vehicle in San Salvador, with a gunshot wound to the head

    In Colombia, Abortion Is Legal but Denied to Many Women, Advocates Say

    Colombia, a nation of 48 million people, allows abortion in cases of rape, incest, fetal malformation, if the fetus is at risk and if the health, both physical and mental, of the mother is at risk