The United States must stand up for democracy in Brazil and demand that its political crisis be resolved with new elections, U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders said in a statement Monday.
"I am deeply concerned by the current effort to remove Brazil's democratically elected president, Dilma Rousseff," Sanders, the runner-up to Hillary Clinton in the race for the Democratic Party's presidential nomination, said in the statement. "To many Brazilians and observers the controversial impeachment process more closely resembles a coup d'etat."
Rousseff, elected in 2014, was removed from office in May after the Brazilian Senate voted to move forward with an impeachment process. Rousseff is accused of manipulating state budgets ahead of her re-election to cover up a deficit, though unlike many of her critics she herself is not accused of personal corruption. Rousseff was replaced by her vice president and former ally, Michel Temer, who a Brazilian court has barred from standing in an election for the next eight years due to his "dirty record" in past contests.
Temer's interim government has been criticized for lacking democratic legitimacy as he and his all-white, all-male Cabinet pursue a neoliberal policy of austerity. Several of his ministers have been forced to resign due to allegations of corruption, and leaked audio tapes show Temer allies sought to remove Rousseff in order to thwart a major investigation into corruption surrounding the state-owned oil company, Petrobras.
"After suspending Brazil's first female president on dubious grounds, without a mandate to govern, the new interim government abolished the ministry of women, racial equality and human rights," Sanders noted in his statement.
"The new, unelected administration quickly announced plans to impose austerity, increase privatization and install a far right-wing social agenda." Coming as Brazil hosts the 2016 Summer Olympics, and on the eve of a Tuesday vote in Brazil's Senate to push forward with impeachment, Sanders' statement calls on the U.S. government to not sit idly by as democracy is undermined in South America.
"The effort to remove President Rousseff is not a legal trial but rather a political one," Sanders said. "We must stand up for the working families of Brazil and demand that this dispute be settled with democratic elections."