A third Latin American country has pulled its ambassadors from Brazil after the Congress moved to suspend democratically elected President Dilma Rousseff last week. Calling the investigation into Rousseff's alleged budget mismanagement a coup, Ecuador has followed Venezuela and El Salvador and Ecuador in freezing diplomatic relations, condemning the impeachment process and backing Rousseff, Telesur reported Wednesday. They join five other Latin American nations that have expressed concerns about the suspension but stopped short of removing their ambassadors: Bolivia, Chile, Cuba, Nicaragua and Uruguay.
Michel Temer, Brazil's vice president, is serving as acting president while Rousseff is investigated by lawmakers, prompting accusations from leftist governments that he is working with the U.S. to oust her, Telesur reported. So far only Argentina’s new, conservative government of President Mauricio Macri has publicly backed Brazil's new right-wing government. Argentina said in a statement it “respects the institutional process” in Brazil and trusts that the result will “consolidate the strength of Brazilian democracy.”
Rousseff was suspended temporarily last week and now faces an impeachment trial. The suspension could last several months. Brazil is also reeling from a slate of other woes, including confronting the Zika virus, which can cause birth defects, and growing unrest over unpopular budget cuts amid the worst recession since the 1930s. Meanwhile the Summer Olympics in Rio are fast approaching.
"This is going to be a real mess. The combination of all these factors at once is unbelievable," Alexandre Barros, a Brasilia-based consultant, told the Associated Press. "Everybody is unhappy with the situation, but nobody knows what to do."
Matias Spektor, a professor of international relations at FGV university in Brazil and an expert on U.S.-Brazilian relations, told Slate in an article published Wednesday that the impeachment trial reflects the Rousseff administration's failure to defend itself amid widespread accusations of corruption against her and various other leaders in the government, including Temer and the speaker of the House.
"This was not a coup; this was a process that was approved by an elected parliament, it was sanctioned by the Supreme Court. The Rousseff administration had plenty of time and opportunity to make its case, and what was found was that several crimes were committed. It was a messy process and it looks very ugly because the people now in power are accused of corruption as much as the people who have been booted out. But this is in no way a coup," he said. "The reason she fell was political. She lost political support. She presided over the largest recession in the last 80 years. She was also unlucky to be in power when the largest corruption scandal ever in the country broke, implicating many people in her administration."