Brazil’s New President Returns the Offense: Coup-mongers Are Those Against the Constitution

Protest against Temer in São Paulo by Rovena Rosa In an address broadcast countrywide on radio and television, Brazilian President Michel Temer pledged to “put Brazil back on track,” implement reforms in the pension system, and called on Brazilians to help pull Brazil out of what he termed a “severe crisis.”

The speech was recorded after Dilma Rousseff’s impeachment was sealed by the Senate. In it, Temer says he was taking office as president after a “democratic and transparent decision” made by Congress.

In his five-minute statement, Michel Temer justified a few measures taken while he was still acting president, like the bill establishing a ceiling for public spending.

“I am aware of the size and weight of the responsibility I bear on my shoulders. And I say that because the country was handed over to us mired in a severe economic crisis: the unemployed total close to 12 million, and the deficit in public accounts [US$ 52.46 billion]. My commitment is that of recovering the vigor of our economy and put Brazil back on track,” the president said.

Protest against Temer in São Paulo by Rovena Rosa

Without a pension reform, “the government would be unable to pay retirees,” he argues.

Temer advocated the modernization of labor laws, mentioned the adjustment in the Bolsa Família poverty relief initiative as an example of the expansion of social programs and said the success of the Olympic Games brought back the self-esteem of Brazilians “before the whole world.”

The president once again argued for the pacification of the country, and pledged to negotiate with “all sectors of society.”

“We stand challenged by present and future. We must not look ahead with eyes turned to the past. My only goal — and I face it as a matter of honor — is to hand over to my successor a reconciled and pacified country on a growing trend — a country that fills its nationals with pride. Order and progress always walk together. We are convinced that we will make Brazil a better place together. Believe it.” Temer concluded.

Demonstrations

During the address, protests were marked by shouting, honking, and whistle blowing in some districts in Brazil’s capital city, like Asa Norte, in the central region of Brasília.

In São Paulo, students’, feminist and other social movements staged a demonstration outside the São Paulo Museum of Art (MASP) against Dilma Rousseff’s impeachment, calling for the ouster of President Michel Temer. Further down Paulista Avenue, pro-impeachment protesters celebrated Rousseff’s removal with cakes and champagne.

Protests were also reported in other capital cities, like Recife (Pernambuco), and Belo Horizonte (Minas Gerais).

Cabinet Meeting

Late in the afternoon, shortly after swearing in in Congress, President Michel Temer urged his ministers not to waver in their commitment to government ideas and not to hesitate in shielding it from accusations that Dilma Rousseff’s ejection from office was a coup d’État.

After the first meeting with his cabinet started, Temer declared that any sort of division in his Congress coalition is “unacceptable,” adding that “if [someone] is government, [they] must be government.”

Standing next to his ministers, the president said he felt excited to have been welcomed “with such enthusiasm” in Congress, and requested that the coup thesis be refuted.

“Coup-mongers are those who stand against the Federal Constitution. We are not proposing a rupture with the constitution. We are discreet to the utmost. We have never rebutted words concerning our government, our conduct. But we’re not having any of that any longer,” he stated, also pointing out that his team “has absolute elegance,” but “firmness is necessary.”

Temer admitted there was a “minor squabble” in the government coalition during the vote on Rousseff’s impeachment, when senators decided she was to retain her political rights.

He said, however, that it represents no defeat for his administration, but stressed that allied senators decided to back the decision “having made no consultation.”

Temer reiterated that his allies must not take any actions which may “discredit” the government’s conduct. “I’m making it crystal clear to set the example and show that this attitude will not be tolerated. If there are people who don’t want the government to function, all right. May they declare themselves against the government,” he affirmed.

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