Dilma Rousseff’s impeachment trial is snapping Brazil back to post-Olympics reality

Reality check.
Reality check.
Image: AP Photo/Eraldo Peres
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The Rio 2016 Olympics are over, and despite all the doubts leading up to the games, Brazil pulled them off in dignified fashion. The events ran smoothly. The country’s men’s soccer team even managed to walk away with its first gold medal, beating rival Germany no less. And the Aug. 21 closing ceremony turned out to be a spectacular party.

But Brazilians are now waking up with a nasty hangover. The first item on a long list of reality checks: Dilma Rousseff’s impeachment trial, which is set to begin on Aug. 25. The suspended president is accused of doctoring the national budget to make its deficit appear smaller.

Brazilians were less than psyched  (link in Portuguese) about the Olympics before they began, but the games ended up offering a much-welcomed respite from daily challenges faced in a country wrestling with both political and financial stresses. Even though the country’s economy appears to have hit bottom, Brazilians are still dealing with rising unemployment and falling household incomes, as well as the fallout from the decay among Brazil’s political class.

The lawmaker who launched the impeachment campaign against Rousseff is himself being investigated for corruption, and has been suspended from his post as lower house speaker. More than half the members of the senate are either under investigation, or face some kind of charges.

Rousseff’s trial is also a symbol of how far Brazil has fallen since her mentor, former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, won Rio’s Olympic bid in 2009, back when Brazil’s economy was booming. He now faces obstruction-of-justice charges for allegedly hampering a corruption investigation.

Lula denies any wrongdoing, and Rousseff is expected to do the same when she testifies on Aug. 29, but her chances of survival are small. Earlier this month, impeachment supporters in the senate garnered 59 votes to indict her, five more than they need to officially oust her.

Against that backdrop, Brazilians have developed a bad case of Rio 2016 withdrawal, which has become a hashtag on social media.

“This is how I woke up,” tweeted one Olympics fan, above. Another, below, expressed a similar sentiment.

Some felt anxiety when they turned on their TV to find no sports.

The city of Rio tried to cheer up its residents, pointing out that the Paralympics are around the corner.  They start Sept. 7.

If they turn out as expected, they’re bound to make Brazilians more depressed. Ticket sales have been lackluster, forcing major budget cuts.