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As Bernie Sanders Condemns “Coup” in Brazil, Why Have Obama & Clinton Been So Silent?

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Earlier this month, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders strongly denounced the impeachment of Brazil’s democratically elected president. In a statement posted on his Senate website, Sanders laid out his position as “calling on the United States to take a definitive stand against efforts to remove Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff from office.” He added, “To many Brazilians and observers the controversial impeachment process more closely resembles a coup d’état.” We speak to The Intercept’s Glenn Greenwald in Rio.

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This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: Earlier this month, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders strongly denounced the impeachment of Brazil’s democratically elected president. In a statement posted on his Senate website, Sanders laid out his position as, quote, “calling on the United States to take a definitive stand against efforts to remove Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff from office,” unquote. He added, “To many Brazilians and observers the controversial impeachment process more closely resembles a coup d’état.” So talk about the timing of Bernie Sanders’ statement, the content of his statement. And then, Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump, have they weighed in, and also President Obama?

GLENN GREENWALD: So, it’s been fascinating to watch, because originally the perception of this process was shaped by Brazil’s domestic media, which is an oligarchic media. They’re owned by a tiny number of extremely rich families, all of whom are united against the Workers’ Party and in favor of impeachment. Reporters Without Borders, the global media group, said that these media organizations were not acting as journalists; they were agitating against democracy in pursuit of the interests of their owners. And so, the perception originally was that this was the people rising up against a corrupt government. But as more people started looking at what was happening in Brazil, as more international journalists who aren’t beholden to these domestic interests started reporting on it, international opinion started radically changing. Just this weekend, Le Monde, the largest and most influential paper in France, one of the most influential in the world, denounced impeachment. They said if it’s not a coup, it’s a farce. You have international transparency groups, as you referenced earlier, denouncing it; the Organization of American States, members of the European Parliament, the British Parliament, and now Senator Sanders. So you see this growing awareness of what’s actually taking place in Brazil, this attack on democracy.

I do think it’s a little disturbing because, unfortunately, throughout the campaign that he ran, foreign policy was a very, you could say, ignored, but certainly deprioritized, part of Bernie Sanders’ challenge to Hillary Clinton. Even though her foreign policy needed so many objections and questions and attacks, he seemed to have very little interest in it. Now that he’s done, he’s willing, I guess, to be a little bit freer about commenting on foreign policy. And so it’s kind of a case of better late than never, but I wish that statement had been issued a lot earlier.

The United States government has been remarkably silent about what’s taking place in Brazil, for the obvious reason that they got caught in the 1960s having participated in and helping to plan the coup against the left-wing, democratically elected government. After vehemently denying for years that they were involved, documents surfaced showing that they were critical participants in that coup and in also supporting the military dictatorship that followed. And so, Brazilians are very sensitive about whatever role the United States might be playing in their internal affairs. And so, the president and the State Department have been very kind of muted about what it is they’re willing to say. But the United States government, for decades, has always preferred right-wing governments to left-wing governments in Latin America. They’ve certainly proven that over and over. As I said earlier, the right-wing faction that is now taking power in Brasília wants to become subservient again to the United States. And so I think it stands to reason that President Obama, Hillary Clinton and the rest of the State Department and Pentagon, to the extent they care, are pretty happy about the developments that have taken place here in Brazil, in terms of a government that wasn’t elected but that is much more favorable to American interests.

AMY GOODMAN: Glenn Greenwald, we’re going to break and then come back to this discussion, both what’s happening in Brazil, the aftermath of the Olympics, the—you starting your own Intercept in Brazil with a group of people covering Brazilian politics. We’re talking to Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Glenn Greenwald. We’ll be back with him in a moment.

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