Dilma Rousseff, Brazil’s recently deposed president, calls it a coup. Many, perhaps most, of the countries in the Organization of American States call it is a coup. Even the men who helped carry out the coup admit, in a secretly recorded conversation, that what they were doing was effectively a coup, staged to provide them immunity from a corruption investigation.
But the United States doesn’t think that the blatantly naked power grab that just took place in Brazil—which ended the Workers’ Party’s 13-year control of the presidency, installed an all-white, all-male cabinet, diluted the definition of slavery, lest it tarnish the image of Brazil’s plantation sector (which relies on coerced, unfree labor), and began a draconian austerity program—is a coup.
It’s democracy at work, according to various Obama officials.
Last week, Washington’s representative to the OAS, Michael Fitzpatrick, rejected accusations that the Obama administration held Venezuela, whose government has long been at odds with the United States, to a different standard than it does the newly installed Brazilian regime, which is fast putting into place economic policies favored by Washington and Wall Street. In Brazil, Fitzpatrick said, “there is a clear respect for democratic institutions and a clear separation of powers. In Brazil it is clearly the law that prevails, coming up with peaceable solution to disputes. There is nothing comparable between Brazil and Venezuela. It is in the latter where democracy is threatened…. We don’t believe that this is an example of a ‘soft coup’ or, for that matter, a coup of any sort. What happened in Brazil complied perfectly with legal constitutional procedure and totally respected democratic norms.”
Others in the administration have stayed on point. The State Department said that it was “confident Brazil will work through its political challenges democratically in accordance with its constitutional principles.” Obama, a White House spokesman reported, “has faith in the capabilities of the democratic institutions of Brazil to hold up against political turbulence.”