In daily verbal broadsides, Brazil’s president, Dilma Rousseff, and her political allies claim that the attempt to impeach her is a “coup d’état”. It is an emotive statement that moves people beyond her governing Workers’ Party (PT) and beyond Brazil. Her supporters held rallies on March 31st, the same day that in 1964 Brazil’s army took power in the last actual military coup the country suffered. “We are here in unyielding defense of democracy,” Chico Buarque, a singer and writer, told the crowd in Rio de Janeiro.
Ms Rousseff argues that she has not committed a “crime of responsibility” and that her impeachment is therefore illegal. There is no evidence that she is personally corrupt. Unlike her lead accuser, Eduardo Cunha, the Speaker of Congress’s lower house, neither she nor her family have Swiss bank accounts or Panamanian offshore companies. Many of her would-be impeachers are accused of taking bribes in the scandal centered on Petrobras, the state-controlled oil company. The administrative crime of which she is accused—a piece of fiscal trickery—is a technicality, her defenders say.