President Dilma Rousseff faces a political crisis as a Supreme Court Justice has blocked her Cabinet appointment and the majority of Brazilians support her impeachment.
On Friday, Justice Gilmar Mendes blocked the appointment of former president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva after he was sworn in as Rousseff’s chief of staff. The decision permits a federal judge to continue the investigation against da Silva.
Rousseff’s opponents say she is trying to help da Silva, her one-time mentor. Under Brazilian law, cabinet-level members cannot be investigated, charged or jailed except with the authorization of the Supreme Court.
The president has insisted the appointment is not linked to da Silva’s legal problems. She says da Silva would help put the country back on track economically. She also says he could help fight attempts to oust her over accusations of financial mismanagement.
Officials are investigating Rousseff and her Workers' Party for their part in the corruption scandal at state oil company, Petrobras.
Prosecutors said more than $2 billion was paid in bribes and other funds by construction and engineering companies in exchange for inflated Petrobras contracts.
Both Rousseff and da Silva have repeatedly denied any wrongdoing. But Rousseff has seen her popularity drop sharply.
Support for Rousseff’s impeachment
A new poll released on Sunday showed strong support for Rousseff’s impeachment.
The poll says 68 percent of Brazilians surveyed want lawmakers to impeach Rousseff.
The effort to impeach the president moved forward last week when the Parliament’s lower house created a special commission to look into accusations of financial mismanagement.
Nearly two weeks ago, an estimated 3 million people took to the streets in nationwide anti-government demonstrations. Protests also took place Thursday in Brasilia and Sao Paulo, where demonstrators showed dolls of da Silva in black-and-white prison stripes.
Brazil faces more problems beyond the Petrobras corruption investigation.
The country is the center of the worldwide spread of the Zika virus, which scientists say can lead to birth defects. And it is facing a recession while preparing for the Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro in August.
This report was adapted from AP and Reuters stories by Mario Ritter. Hai Do was the editor.
Words in This Story
injunction –n. an order from a court requiring that some action take place or be stopped
impeachment –n. charging a public official with a crime done in office
public figure –n. a public official or someone known to the public because of their profession
overstep –v. to go beyond what is correct or permitted