Suspended Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff called the impeachment a ‘coup’, the result of a fraudulent process that ignores the 54 million people who voted for her, but vowed to keep fighting hours after on early Thursday, the Senate voted in favor of her impeachment trial.
“I confess, I never imagined it would be necessary to fight against a coup in my country,” Rousseff said in a speech to the nation. “Our democracy is young, made by struggle, made by deaths, it doesn’t deserve this.”
The move suspends her from office and sends the country deeper into political and economic disarray less than three months before the Rio Olympics. The vote passed 55-22 after more than 20 hours of debate by senators.
Rousseff, Brazil’s first female president, denies breaking any fiscal laws. Yet polls show a majority of Brazilians support impeaching her and the vote appears to be equally a referendum on her stewardship of the country’s moribund economy.
It took Rousseff less than an hour to make two speeches slamming the vote: One to reporters inside the presidential palace, and one to crowds outside after she was kicked out.
“I’m the victim of a great injustice,” Rousseff told cheering supporters. She delivered a fiery speech from a podium set up outside the Planalto Palace– stopping several times to ask people around her to move so she could see the crowd.
She shook hands with onlookers, kissed a baby and hugged people afterward. All the while, she decried the impeachment proceedings as a betrayal and an injustice. The effort, she argued, is the latest in a string of moves by her opponents ever since she took office.
“My government was the target of non-stop sabotage,” Rousseff said. “The objective was to stop me from governing and therefore allow an environment inviting the coup.”
“I have made mistakes, but I have not committed any crimes. I am being judged unjustly, because I have followed the law to the letter,” she said.
Rousseff vowed to keep fighting efforts to impeach her, within the law, and called for her supporters to join her.
“Destiny has reserved many challenges for me. … Some of them seemed impossible to overcome. I have suffered from torture, I have suffered from sickness, and now I suffer from the pain of injustice,” she said.
“What is more painful now is injustice. I am victim of a political farce. But I won’t give up. I look back and I see all we have accomplished. I look forward and I see all we still need to do.”
Since Rousseff will be suspended for up to 180 days that means she could be on the sidelines, fighting for her political future, when the Olympics come to Brazil in August.
Michel Temer is now Brazil’s interim president. As Rousseff spoke, her one-time vice president posted a photo on his official Twitter account of the moment when he took power. Rousseff retains her title as president by law, but she will not be fulfilling the duties of that office.