Brazil President Temer boycotted by Latin American countries at UN summit


In a sign of protest against his rise to power, six Latin American countries' delegations walked out of the assembly hall Tuesday at the United Nations as Brazilian President Michel Temer prepared to speak at the summit. The delegations of Ecuador, Costa Rica, Bolivia, Venezuela, Cuba and Nicaragua walked out of the auditorium as Temer began his address.

"It is common practice when one wants to send a strong signal of rejection," said Ecuadoran Foreign Minister Guillaume Long, who was among the diplomats that left.

President Michel Temer, who came to power following a widely condemned parliamentary coup against ex-President Dilma Rousseff, turned on Brazil's first women leader amid her political woes. Temer took office on August 31 after the impeachment over accounting irregularities of elected president Dilma Rousseff, whose supporters said Brazil's right-wing forces had staged a bloodless coup.

But Temer, addressing the UN General Assembly, said that the impeachment took place "with the most absolute respect of the constitutional order."

The move showed the world "there can be no democracy without the rule of law with the standards applicable to all, even the most powerful," he said. "Isolated wills do not prevail, but rather the will of institutions, under the careful oversight of a pluralistic society and a totally free press," he said.

Temer said that he was committed to a "path of fiscal responsibility and social responsibility" for Brazil, whose once-steady economic growth rates have been whittled by softening prices for its commodity exports.

As expected, he said that Brazil on Wednesday would become the latest major economy to ratify the Paris global accord on climate change, bringing the agreement closer to coming into force.

Brazil, one of the world's most biodiverse countries, "is an environmental powerhouse, one that has an uncompromising commitment to the environment," Temer said.

President Temer was sworn in as president after replacing Dilma Rousseff who was impeached. The Brazilian Senate voted 61-20 to convict the country's first female president, Dilma Rousseff, of allegedly illegally using money from state banks to bankroll public spending. The vote ended 13 years of progressive Workers Party rule. Temer will remain president until 2018 unless a fresh election will hold in the country.

Thousands of Brazilians hit the streets on September 5 to protest against Michel Temer's government. On the seventh day of protests, a record number of 50,000 came out in Sao Paulo. After Temer's swearing in on Wednesday, hundreds of youths took to the streets of Sao Paulo, smashing shop windows and hurling rocks at riot police, who responded with tear gas. Temer played down the scale of the protests when he spoke to reporters on the sidelines of the G20 summit.

Meanwhile, after Rousseff's ouster, Brazilian prosecutors filed corruption charges against her predecessor and mentor, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, accusing him of a pay-to-play scheme at state oil company Petrobras.

Former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva must stand trial on charges of money laundering and corruption, a Brazilian judge ruled Tuesday. Judge Sergio Moro said there is enough evidence to start a judicial process against Silva, his wife and six others in a widening corruption probe centered on the country's huge state-run oil company, Petrobras.

Prosecutors have called Silva the "maximum commander" of the Petrobras graft scandal that has rocked Brazil. Prosecutors allege that billions of dollars in bribes were paid to win inflated contracts from the company. The judge's decision had been expected after prosecutors charged Silva last week.

Silva on Tuesday called the accusation a "farce, a big lie and a great spectacle."

The Petrobras investigation began more than two years ago and has led to the jailing of dozens of businessmen and top politicians. But the judge's decision on Tuesday is taking the case to a new level, analysts said.

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