For the second time in its 188 years of existence, the Brazilian Senate has expelled a member. The first time this happened was in the year 2000 when senator Luiz Estevan form the Federal District was thrown out after being involved in a multi-million dollar fraud in the construction of a building – a labor court building in São Paulo.
Another senator, Renan Calheiros from the Alagoas PMDB party, was actually tried in 2007, but was found not guilty of misconduct.
On Wednesday, July 11, by a vote of 56 to 19, the Senate expelled senator Demóstenes Torres, who represented the state of Goiás as a member of an opposition party, the DEM.
When he was expelled, however, he was no longer a member of any political party – a common maneuver in these cases where the politician avoids being expelled from his political party by resigning.
Demóstenes was accused of using his mandate in favor of a businessman from his home state. The businessman is Carlos Augusto de Almeida Ramos, aka Charlie Waterfall (Carlinhos Cachoeira).
One of the many controversial aspects of the case is that although the discussion of the expulsion motion was open and public, the vote on the expulsion was secret. There is a movement underway to put an end to all secret votes in the congress.
In the floor discussion, five senators spoke, all in favor of expulsion and an end to the secret vote.
Senator Humberto Costa from the PT of Pernambuco, who herded the expulsion motion through the Senate (“relator”), emphasized that it was necessary to expel Demóstenes Torres because he had lied about his relationship with Charlie Waterfall, participated in a criminal organization and actively sought to protect Charlie Waterfall from Federal Police investigations.
Demóstenes Torres’ seat in the Senate will now be taken by his substitute (“suplente”), businessman Wilder Pedro de Morais, who is presently the state secretary of Infrastructure in Goiás. He is also the former husband of Charlie Waterfall’s present wife.