In her first address after Brazil’s Senate overwhelming vote to impeach her, President Dilma Rousseff was defiant and confident that she will be vindicated. As she has throughout the country’s political crisis, she maintained that she and her government have done nothing wrong.
“There is no crime I have committed,” Rousseff told a roomful of reporters and supporters. “This is not an impeachment, it’s a true coup.”
She added, “[My opponents] are trying to take by force what they couldn’t win at the ballot.”
On Thursday morning the Senate voted 55-22 in favor of starting a political trial against the 68-year-old leader, Brazil's first female president, for her alleged mishandling of the federal budget. Critics said she used accounting tricks to hide ballooning deficits and bolster an embattled government.
The socialist president, forced to step aside as Vice President Michel Temer takes over during the judicial proceeding, said repeatedly “I have committed no crime.”
She added, “They are treating as if they were crimes legitimate acts by my government, that all my predecessors employed.”
Afterward, she went outdoors and addressed a larger crowd of supporters. “This is a tragic day for our young democracy,” she told them.
During the press conference, Rousseff referred to her past fighting a military regime in the 60s and being a victim of torture.
“I suffered from torture then,” Rousseff said, “and now I suffer from injustice. I never thought that I’d have to fight against another coup in my country.”
Toward the end of her statement, she sounded a call to action, and to optimism.
“I am confident that the people will say ‘No’ to this injustice,” Rousseff said. “We need to keep ourselves organized, united and at peace. Victory depends on all of us. Together, we will show the whole world how strong democracy in Brazil truly is.”