By Maria Paz Salas
SANTIAGO, Chile (AA) – A leaked telephone conversation is adding to speculation that Dilma Rousseff was removed from office in Brazil by a coup.
Newly installed Minister of Planning and Development, Romero Jucá, is recorded saying that Rousseff’s exit would be the best way to stop a major corruption investigation that is centered on state-run oil company Petrobras.
In excerpts of the conversations that were revealed by the Folha de Sao Paulo newspaper, Jucá, who was a Senator at the time, tells Sergio Machado, former president of the Transpetro oil and gas company, that “we must change the government to stop the bleeding.”
Both men are being investigated in the Operation Car Wash corruption probe of Petrobras. Jucá is one of the strong men of interim President Michel Temer and is tasked with restructuring the budget amid the country’s worst economic crisis since the 1930s.
It is unclear who made the secret recordings in March – just weeks before an impeachment vote against Rousseff was held in Congress. In the conversations, the men suggest a “a national pact” to stop the investigations, according to transcripts.
Juca´s lawyer, Antonio Carlos de Almedia Castro, acknowledged the discussions took place but said there was nothing illegal on the recordings because they were speaking “in general” on the matter.
The revelations are a new scandal for Temer, who took leadership of the country after the Senate decided to suspend Rousseff for six months in order to continue with a political trial that could permanently remove her from office.
Rousseff is accused of violating fiscal rules to mask budget issues in the lead up to the 2014 presidential elections. She has maintained that what she did has been done by many politicians, not only in Brazil but around the world. She also has said that the trial against her is a coup.
Temer, who is also under investigation in a corruption probe, was Rousseff’s vice president was a vocal advocate for her removal.
Since taking office, mass demonstrations have been held against his rule.
The latest polling figures show Temer with just 2 percent support.