Dilma Rousseff of Brazil insists that she would not resign even as momentum builds in Congress for her ouster. She described the efforts to remove her from office as “lacking legal foundations,” and lashed out at Eduardo Cunha, the speaker of the lower house of Congress, who has been plagued with scandals of his own.
In a defiant tone, she said the Rousseff impeachment proceedings were put into motion by Cunha as a way of deflecting attention from his own legal troubles over charges of bribery and money laundering, according to The Guardian. “Why do they want me to resign?” Rousseff, Brazil’s first female president, asked in the interview.
“Because I’m a woman, fragile. I am not fragile. That is not my life.” She said that investigators should leave no stone unturned in examining her actions. Asked whether she would accept a vote to impeach her, Rousseff, 68, said, “We will appeal with every legal method available.”
The Brazilian president appeared to be digging in her heels for what may be a protracted battle, offering heated responses to an array of questions posed by journalists from international news organizations in an interview that lasted more than an hour.
Dilma Rousseff, who narrowly won re-election in 2014, also denied that her two presidential campaigns had received any illegal financing. Her campaign strategist, João Santana, has been arrested and accused of receiving millions of dollars in illegal payments in offshore accounts.
Rousseff is striking back at her opponents at a time when her government has come under intense pressure over an economic crisis, corruption scandals and her nomination of her mentor and predecessor as president, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, to join her cabinet as chief of staff.
The nomination of Lula da Silva, 70, the most towering figure in the governing Workers’ Party, set off a national firestorm, because the post would give him broad legal protection as prosecutors seek his arrest in connection to a graft investigation involving giant construction companies.
Dilma Rousseff defended her nomination of Lula da Silva in the interview, saying, “Lula is my partner,” and citing the value of his talents for political negotiation at a time when her government is under intense stress. She brushed away complaints that the appointment would shield him from legal scrutiny, saying he would still be answerable in Brazil’s highest court after he joined her cabinet.
Sixty-eight percent of Brazilians are in favor of impeaching Rousseff, according to a new opinion survey by Datafolha, one of Brazil’s leading pollsters. The poll, conducted in 2,794 interviews on March 17 and 18, has a margin of error of plus or minus two percentage points.