On the eve of Rousseff impeachment trial, PR war waged over former Brazilian leader
Pro-Rousseff protesters occupy a concert hall, impeachment supporters take to social media
In an abandoned music hall, in the dark, about 20 people live in tents amid old beer cans, artists posters and other detritus of concerts past. They've been here since the beginning of August, since they got kicked out of the last place they occupied.
"The opposition was unhappy with (Dilma)Rousseff's victory in the 2014 election," Brito says. "And ever since then they've been trying to bring her down."
Rousseff to be tried by Senate
The final phase of Rousseff's impeachment — the endgame of a process that began late last year — starts four days after the Olympic Games ended, when the trial session starts in the Senate on Thursday. Rousseff herself will only take the stand the following week on Aug. 29.
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The trial's expected to last until the 31st, and if two-thirds of the senators vote for impeachment, as is widely expected, Rousseff will be permanently removed from office and barred from running for the next eight years.
Now, with Rousseff's fate hanging in the balance, both sides are making a last attempt to change public opinion any way they can.
Supporters like Brito believe Rousseff's transgressions — moving money around to mask her government's budget deficit — are fairly minor compared to the scandals that have seen more than half the Senate investigated or charged.
That's why the music hall is covered in graffiti accusing interim president Michel Temer of orchestrating a "golpe;" the process of impeachment, Brito says, is "a parliamentary coup."
"Our left says it was a coup! It was a coup d'état," he says, mockingly, to a Dutch couple he stopped as they were sightseeing.
Santos is one of four young men who are shooting a video for social media, asking foreigners what would happen if their head of state got caught fiddling with the numbers.
Jail for fudging the figures
"They would go to jail for sure," the Dutch man says.
"Certainly," echoes his wife.
That was the answer Santos was looking for.
And on this both sides generally agree — the impeachment process so far has been legal and constitutional.
"Right now we see the end of the fight and the Brazilian people won," Santos says. "And definitely this is like a very nice, democratic way to end the 'Brazilian spring.'"
Temer's government called 'racist'
"It's a racist government," he says. "As a black Brazilian, I'm very worried. We're going to be hurt the most by this, not just by the Temer government but by what could come after it."
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Barroso opens up a massive, tattered sheet of paper torn from a flip-chart easel and spreads it over the old DJ's table at the back of the concert hall. It's covered in phone numbers: more contacts for the next protest. The next call-to-action is imminent.
If Rousseff is impeached, he says, these occupiers will be demanding new elections, to prevent Temer from consolidating power. He's already begun, Barroso says — earlier this month Temer transferred control of Brazil's intelligence agency to the military.
I ask Brito how long she plans to live in that dark concert hall.
"We don't leave, until Temer leaves," Brito says.
Or, much more likely, until they're kicked out.