Thursday, May 19, 2016

"Coup" in Brazil?

Former President Rousseff of Brazil, denounced her impeachment as a “coup.” I am not an expert on Brazil's internal politics but it does appear that there are coup-like characteristics as "businesses and investors hail change" within country, as reported by The Wall Street Journal:
Rogerio Jelmayer and Jeffrey T. Lewis (2016, May 13). Businesses and Investors Hail Change. The Wall Street Journal, A6.
“Business interests are cheering the new leadership in Brazil following the suspension of President Dilma Rousseff, whom many blame for the deep recession and crumbling finances in Latin America’s largest economy”

Rousseff was replaced by Michel Temer, who “already has heartened investors by assembling a market-friendly economic team led by former central bank head Henrique Meirelles, the country’s new finance minister”
The new finance minister, Meirelles, has an interesting history.  According to Wikipedia, he began work in 1974 at BankBoston, where he stayed on for 28 years.  BankBoston’s board appointed him to attend the Advanced Management Program at Harvard Business School in 1984. Upon completion of the program in July 1984, he returned to Brazil as newly appointed president of BankBoston in Brazil.

BankBoston merged with Fleet Financial Group in 1999. Meirelles was appointed president of FleetBoston Financial’s Global Banking

He became a central banker in 2003, as President of Brazil’s Central Bank. Appointed by President Lula, Meirelles served in this capacity until 2010.

In 2004 FleetBoston was acquired by Bank of America (

Although appointed by Lula, Meirelles was no socialist, according to multiple accounts. Here are a couple of examples, the first of which indicates that Meirelles failed to appoint anyone on the left generally while serving as Central Banker, an indicator of Lula's political tradeoffs:
Benjamin Dangl. Dancing with Dynamite: Social Movements and States in Latin America. 2013. ReadHowYouWant (January 21, 2013)

“The PT [Workers Party] depended on alliances with right-wing parties, and Lula appointed right-wing, neoliberal cabinet members, most infamously international corporate banker Henrique Meirelles as the president of the Central Bank. Meirelles had been previously in charge of FleetBoston Financial Group in the US, and he appointed an economic team that included neither leftists nor PT members. P. 179
The second source, from the World Socialist Web Site (which often runs very well written analyses, in my opinion), describes the new government's appointees as entirely right wing:

Bill Van Auken. May 14, 2016. With Rousseff Ousted, Vice President Assembles Right-Wing Government in Brazil. World Socialist Web Site,

The cabinet assembled by Temer is a collection of reactionaries and pro-business figures...  
...Perhaps the most significant figure in the new cabinet is Henrique Meirelles, who will take the post of finance minister, directing the austerity drive. Social welfare will reportedly be placed under his remit, indicating the government’s intention to make radical changes. The role of Meirelles underscores the fundamental continuity between the new right-wing government and the PT administration that preceded it.

A former CEO of Bank of Boston, Meirelles was appointed head of Brazil’s central bank when the PT first came into office under the presidency of former metalworkers union leader Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva. His appointment was a signal to both Brazilian and foreign capitalists that they had nothing to fear from the socialist rhetoric of the PT. Lula had proposed that Rousseff bring Meirelles into her administration, even as vice president.

In her own speech delivered Thursday morning, Rousseff denounced the impeachment as a “coup” and insisted that she was guilty of no crime.
Its hard for me to assess whether impeachment in Brazil represents a neoliberal coup or not, but constitutive elements seem in place.

John Perkins' discussion of his book, Confessions of an Economic Hitman, outlines those constitutive elements:

1 comment:

  1. A very serious coup. Part of neoliberal agenda.bthey will almost certainly privatise all the national monuments and parks in the us and the wilderness areas. All for the love of money for the very few. Things getting real nutty.


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