Ernesto Samper, secretary-general of the Union of South American Nations, told teleSUR in an exclusive interview that Dilma Rousseff remained "the legitimate leader" of the Brazilian people and maintains "democratic legitimacy" by virtue of having been re-elected in 2014.
During a press conference Thursday, Samper said that the decision of the Brazilian Congress to initiate an impeachment trial against President Dilma Rousseff was “compromising the democratic governability of the region in a dangerous way.”
“What has happened in Brazil, is a parliamentary political majority is challenging the citizens' majority that expressed themselves in a clear way in favor of Rousseff,” said Samper referring to the 2014 re-election of President Rousseff.
He stopped short of calling the impeachment trial of Rousseff a rupture of democratic order, which would have triggered the possible suspension of Brazil from the regional bloc.
He added that the efforts by Brazilian politicians to oust Rousseff via impeachment were of “a political character” and criticized the lower chamber for failing to provide Rousseff with room to defend herself.
Samper called on the upper chamber, which will now preside over her trial, to respect due process.
“In this new phase, we ask that the right to defense for President Rousseff be guaranteed,” said Samper.
The secretary-general of UNASUR said it was “not their place to comment on the interim government (of Michel Temer)."
During an earlier event Wednesday, Samper said the greatest risk to governance in the region were groups who “engage in political work without political responsibility.”
The impeachment effort against Rousseff was largely driven by political, media, and economic elites in Brazil.
The support of the Globo media conglomerate was essential in stirring up support for impeachment, providing disproportional coverage of corruption allegations against members of the Workers' Party and granting widespread media attention to right-wing rallies calling for Rousseff's ouster.
Elements of the country's judiciary—including Sergio Moro, the judge who is presiding over the investigation into a corruption scandal—played a lead political role, which Rousseff's supporters said were inappropriate for a judge.
The country's Supreme Court also refrained from intervening and stopping the coup plot, despite the fact that Rousseff was being put on trial without having been found guilty of any crime.
The impeachment effort against the ousted Brazilian president is based on allegations she manipulated budget accounts, a deed committed by most of her predecessors and by some of the very senators who voted for impeachment efforts to proceed.
The UNASUR chief previously warned that a potential impeachment scenario would set a "dangerous" precedent by criminalizing standard government budget management practices.