Brazil’s interim government dismissed criticism by leftist countries in Latin America, including Venezuela, Cuba and Bolivia, over the impeachment process of Dilma Rousseff, who was suspended as president by the senate.
The leftist president of El Salvador on Saturday added to the regional pressure on Brazil, saying that he would not recognize the interim government and recalled his ambassador, claiming there had been “political manipulation” in Latin America’s biggest country.
The bickering, not rare between leftist leaders and more conservative governments at a time when much of the region is moving to the right, comes as centrist Michel Temer, Rousseff’s vice president, assumes Brazil’s presidency and scrambles to pull the economy out of its worst recession since the 1930s.
Rousseff, after five months of impeachment proceedings, now faces a senate trial over irregularities in her government’s budget. The trial could take up to 180 days and is expected to lead to her definitive ouster.
In a statement Friday evening, Brazil’s foreign ministry said it “emphatically rejects” neighbors “allowing themselves to opine and propagate falsehoods over internal political process in Brazil.”
In a separate statement, the ministry, headed by José Serra, a prominent former senator and presidential candidate, criticized the head of Unasur, a South American regional bloc. Ernesto Samper, Unasur’s secretary general, earlier had questioned the validity of Rousseff’s suspension.
After Brazil’s strongly-worded statements Friday, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, who is also struggling with economic problems and a push to remove him from office, asked his ambassador to Brazil to come home to discuss the tensions.
Maduro is among leaders, including Rousseff herself, who have condemned her suspension as a “coup”.
Rousseff, who is spending the weekend with family in the southern Brazilian city of Porto Alegre, has said she could appeal to regional organizations in efforts to discredit the impeachment process. Thus far, however, she has complied with all procedures related to her suspension.
On Saturday, mainstream Brazilian media made light of the statements by leftists in the region, especially the Socialist government of Venezuela and Communist-run Cuba.
“Who are Cuba, Venezuela, Ecuador, Bolivia and Nicaragua to teach about democracy?” wrote Eliane Cantanhede, a prominent columnist for the Estado do S. Paulo newspaper. “Cuba?! Venezuela?!”
(Reporting by Paulo Prada in Rio de Janeiro, Christine Murray in Mexico City and Gerardo Arbaiza in San Salvador and Alexandra Ulmer in Caracas; Editing by Alistair Bell)