Brazil’s new interim president, Michel Temer, held his first official Cabinet meeting on Friday, vowing his new team would try to rescue the country’s plunging economy at a moment of profound political confrontation.
The gathering at government headquarters followed a chaotic day that saw the Senate vote to impeach President Dilma Rousseff, suspending her from office and abruptly ousting nearly her entire government — a move she branded “a coup.”
CCTV’s Stephen Gibbs has this report on the Latin American reaction.
Latin America\'s reaction the the political crisis in BrazilCCTV's Stephen Gibbs has this report on the Latin American reaction.
Temer moved quickly to announce his new team, whose star appears to be Finance Minister Henrique Meirelles, widely respected for serving as Central Bank chief during the boom years from 2003 to 2010.
Temer promised to support the widening investigation into corruption at the state oil company that has ensnared leading politicians from a variety of parties and even implicated Temer himself — as well as several members of the new Cabinet.
His choice of ministers has raised criticism for its makeup: All its members are middle-aged or elderly white men — a particularly sore point in this majority non-white country. Six women, including one black, were included in the 39 members of Rousseff’s Cabinet when she began her second term last year.
Temer made a bid for peace with Rousseff, offering his “institutional respect” for the suspended leader, who continues to live in the presidential residence even as her replacement holds down the government offices.
“This is not a moment for celebrations, but one of profound reflection,” he said. “It’s urgent to pacify the nation and unify the country. It’s urgent for us to form a government of national salvation to pull this country out of the serious crisis in which we find ourselves.”
Rousseff has warned that Temer plans to dismantle government social programs that benefit around one-fourth of the Brazilian population. He insisted the programs would be maintained and “perfected” under his leadership.
But his choice to lead the Social Development Ministry, Osmar Terra, acknowledged that could be tough.
“What President Michel is proposing is that those programs be the most sheltered (from cuts). But if the budget hole is very big, we’ll see,” he said. “The country is bankrupt.”
The economy has been predicted to contract nearly 4 percent this year after an equally dismal 2015, and inflation and unemployment are hovering around 10 percent, underscoring a sharp decline after the South American giant enjoyed stellar growth for more than a decade.
Temer, the longtime leader of the centrist Democratic Movement Party, had been Rousseff’s vice president as part of a coalition of convenience that broke down under the strains of economic woes and corruption scandals. He is known less for a specific ideological stance than for its skill at backroom deal making.
The scandal at Petrobras revealed deep-seated corruption that cuts across the political spectrum in Brazil and has entangled top officials from the Workers’ Party and the opposition alike as well as top businessmen.
Temer has been implicated by witnesses in the scandal, but he has not been charged. The impeachment drive’s main motor, former House Speaker Eduardo Cunha, has been charged in the scandal and was suspended last week as speaker over allegations of corruption and interfering with justice.
Several of Temer’s Cabinet appointees have been hit with corruption charges and other allegations.
The acting president pledged that the investigation will continue unfettered. “It deserves to be followed closely and protection against any interference that could weaken it,” he said.
Mary Brigid McManamon discusses impeachments around the globe
For a bigger understanding of impeachments around the world, CCTV America’s Asieh Namdar spoke with Mary Brigid McManamon, law professor from the Delaware Law School.
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Interim government prepares to dispense austerity
Brazil may be even deeper in the red than first thought. That’s the warning from the country’s new government on its first full day at work.
Interim President Michel Temer has replaced Dilma Rousseff while she’s suspended pending trial for alleged budget mismanagement.
His priority is getting the country’s debts under control. CCTV America’s Paulo Cabral reports.
Follow Paulo Cabral on Twitter @PCabralReporter