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Brazil's Congress Considers Impeaching President Dilma Rousseff


We're also tracking impeachment proceedings against the president of Latin America's biggest country. NPR's Lourdes Garcia-Navarro reports on Dilma Rousseff's fight for her political life.

LOURDES GARCIA-NAVARRO, BYLINE: So these are the battle lines. On one side, you have the Speaker of Brazil's lower house of Congress, Eduardo Cunha. He's immensely powerful but politically wounded. He's being investigated for bribery and corruption related to a massive scandal at the state oil company here. Yesterday, he announced he was allowing the impeachment proceedings against Rousseff to go forward with these words.

EDUARDO CUNHA: (Speaking Portuguese).

GARCIA-NAVARRO: "It gives me no pleasure to take this action, and there's no political motive behind it," he said.

On the other side, there is the president, and Rousseff took to the airwaves almost immediately to accuse Cunha, the Speaker, of using impeachment to stop her government's investigation into his alleged illicit activities.

PRES DILMA ROUSSEFF: (Speaking Portuguese).

GARCIA-NAVARRO: "I would never accept or agree to any type of bargain," she said, "even less with those who threaten the independent work of the democratic institutions of my country, who try to impede justice from being done and who offend the moral and ethical principles that should govern public life," she said.

BRIAN WINTER: It's basically a shootout at the OK Corral at this point. And it's political chaos in Brazil, it's unclear who's going to come out of it, you know, dead, wounded - who's going to escape unharmed.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: That's Brian Winter, the vice president at the Council of the Americas. He says Rousseff is accused of cooking the federal books to mask big budget holes. Rousseff, in her statement, vehemently denied any wrongdoing yesterday, and Winter says the case against her is weak.

WINTER: You know, there's nothing serious and criminal against her at this point.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Still, Rousseff has single-digit approval ratings and an economy headed to deep recession, so she doesn't have a lot of political capital. Carlos Lopes is an analyst with Instituto Analise, and he says it's not clear how this will end.

CARLOS LOPES: (Speaking Portuguese).

GARCIA-NAVARRO: "She's going to have to defend herself," he says, "and she's going to have to battle it out in Congress to derail or stop the impeachment process." Which means - in a country with a crashing economy and a host of other problems - things just got even bumpier for Brazil. Lourdes Garcia-Navarro, NPR News, Rio de Janeiro. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Lulu Garcia-Navarro is the host of Weekend Edition Sunday and one of the hosts of NPR's morning news podcast Up First. She is infamous in the IT department of NPR for losing laptops to bullets, hurricanes, and bomb blasts.