Brazilian President Refuses to Resign After Corruption Accusations
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Brazilian President Refuses to Resign After Corruption Accusations

Brazil's "Iron Lady" comes under fire but claims there is not enough evidence to justify an impeachment.

Brazilian President Refuses to Resign After Corruption Accusations

In 2011, Brazil elected its first female president, Dilma Rousseff. In the 60s and 70s, when Brazil was ruled by a military dictatorship, Rousseff joined the left-wing resistance and was arrested and tortured. She has been nicknamed the country's "Iron Lady" for her refusal to be politically lenient, particularly when it comes to cases of corruption. In fact, one of the main reasons she projected to such political prominence was because her political history was largely free of corruption, unlike other politicians around her.

However, Rousseff has recently come under fire for allegations of political and economic corruption. Specifically, her cabinet was accused of receiving commission out of contracts with the state-run oil company, Petrobras, in order to buy political support. Rousseff has not directly been implicated in the corruption scandal, and she denies having any knowledge of it. She has also been accused of using state funds to boost public spending during her re-election campaign two years ago. In response, she accused her opponent's political party of causing a crisis that contributed to one of the largest recessions Brazil, the largest Latin American economy, has ever faced.

A formal impeachment process started in December 2015, but was rapidly shut down by the nation's supreme court. Calls for her resignation continue, but Rousseff maintains that "resignation is a voluntary act," and that she, as a democratically elected leader, refuses to step down when there is not enough evidence to support an impeachment or a voluntary resignation.

Accusations of Brazilian politicians mishandling funds or being involved in corruption scandals are not new. Rousseff's predecessor, Luiz Inacio Lula de Silva (commonly referred to as just "Lula"), is currently being tried for laundering the state's money for personal spending, namely a luxury penthouse in an expensive resort. However, Lula's supporters believe this is merely a move by his opposition to tarnish his reputation, as opposed to factual claims. Rousseff has also expressed support, claiming that she would be "proud to have [Lula] in her government."

Like the United States, a presidential term in Brazil is 4 years long. However, unlike the United States, a president can serve as many terms as she or he can be elected for, so long as it is not more than two consecutive terms. This means that after her term ends in 2018, Rousseff will have to step down for at least 4 years. While this may seems like a short time to wait, those who oppose Rousseff's presidency continue to work towards her impeachment, and at the very least, lessening her political strength in the current system.

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