Rousseff, Dilma

Rousseff, Dilma jēlˈmä ro͞oˈsĕf [key], 1947–, Brazilian political leader, b. Belo Horizonte. The daughter of a Bulgarian immigrant lawyer and a Brazilian teacher, she was trained as an economist and studied at the Federal Univ. of Rio Grande do Sul (grad. 1977). An early opponent of Brazil's military dictatorship, she joined the leftist opposition in the mid-1960s and subsequently joined a guerrilla group. She was captured in 1970, tortured, and imprisoned for nearly three years. After her release and recuperation, she attended graduate school in economics; from 1986 on she held a variety of appointed posts in Brazil's city and state governments. In 2000 she joined the Worker's party (PT). She served (2003–5) in President da Silva's cabinet as energy minister, after which she was (2005–10) his chief of staff. An accusation of attempting to influence an investigation of José Sarney's family nearly derailed her career in 2009, but she weathered the charges and became the PT's 2010 candidate for president. Strongly backed by the popular da Silva, whose policies she pledged to continue, she won the election after a runoff. In 2014 she was reelected by a narrower margin, again after a runoff. Rousseff is Brazil's first woman president; the presidency is her first elected office. Her second term was soon marred by recession and inflation and by a major corruption investigation involving government officials, Petrobras (the national oil company), and others (including prominent opposition politicians). In 2016, however, opposition and former coalition legislators voted to open an impeachment trial against her, accusing her of having used an illegal accounting measure to hide the size of the government deficit, and she was removed from office after a senate trial. Rousseff herself was charged in 2017 with being involved in the corruption scandal associated with Petrobras.

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