Suspended Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff defends herself as impeachment trial begins

Monday, August 29, 2016 - 16:00

Suspended President Dilma Rousseff told the Senate on Monday the future of Brazil was at stake in her impeachment trial as her conservative opponents were using trumped-up charges to oust her and roll back the social advances of the past 13 years.

The leftist leader, appearing before the Senate to defend herself in a process expected to remove her from office this week, said Brazil's economic elite and political opposition had sought to destabilize her government since her 2014 re-election.

Rousseff denied charges of breaking budgetary rules and denounced the nine-month impeachment process that has paralyzed Brazilian politics as a plot to overthrow her and protect the interests of Brazil's privileged classes, including the privatization of public assets such as massive subsalt oil reserves.

"What we are about to witness is a serious violation of the Constitution and a real coup d'etat," Rousseff said.

She warned that a conservative government would slash spending on social programs, undoing the gains of the past decade in the fight against poverty.

"The future of Brazil is at stake," she said.