How a Christian bloc helped oust Brazil's president

Evangelical politicians were among the most vocal opponents of Dilma Rouseff and her party's social programs.

The impeachment of Dilma Rousseff, the first female president of Brazil, has been accurately described as a farce. Brazilian theologian Leonardo Boff termed it “the impeachment of an innocent president.” Soci­ologist and philosopher Michael Löwy called it a pseudo-legal coup, with many elements resembling the 1964 coup d’état, which led to a dictatorship lasting for 21 years.

The reelection of President Dilma (as she is known in Brazil) in 2014 revealed a political divide. From the moment of her reelection, powerful sectors of Brazilian society decided that they would not wait for another election and began to work to regain political control from Rous­seff’s Workers’ Party (Partido dos Trabal­hadores). Rousseff’s predecessor, PT leader Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, had expanded social programs, which lifted 36 million people out of poverty and into the middle class. In response, an opposition alliance was formed involving members of the private sector, traditional political figures, and the mainstream media. Leading newspapers and the television network Globo (one of the most powerful media empires in the world) devoted considerable time and space to reporting on widespread corruption associated with Rousseff and the PT.

Operation Car Wash, an investigation into corruption initiated in 2014 by the Federal Police of Brazil (it was named after a gas station and car wash operation allegedly used for money laundering), selectively leaked information to the media and became a political instrument used to chastise Rousseff’s party and its allies. Though politicians from opposition parties have appeared in the investigation, only PT politicians and their allies have been sent to jail. Yet at no moment did Dilma’s administration intervene in the investigation. And despite their freedom to scrutinize her administration, investigators were un­able to find evidence that Rousseff was involved in any act of corruption.