Ousted Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff: I was the victim of a coup

Key Points
  • In a speech in New York, Rousseff calls impeachment a "parliamentary coup"
  • Her impeachment marked the end of 13 years of rule by the left-of-center Workers Party
  • Brazilian stocks posted best yearly performance since 2009 last year
Former Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff speaks during a media conference at Uruguay's Frente Amplio party's headquarters in Montevideo, November 4, 2016.
Andres Stapff | Reuters

Former Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff vigorously defended herself and her administration during an appearance in New York, characterizing her impeachment as a "parliamentary coup."

"This was not something that happened by surprise. It had a clear goal — to stop the political class from being victims of investigations for their own corruption," Rousseff said Tuesday night at Columbia University in New York.

Rousseff was removed on Aug. 31 amid a massive corruption scandal and an economic crisis that crippled Latin America's largest country.

Brazil had been an economic stalwart in the region just a few years before Rousseff's impeachment, buoyed by surging oil prices. But the collapse in the crude market, coupled with a corruption scandal at state-run Petrobras, led to millions of Brazilians flooding the streets in protest of Rousseff's presidency.

Rousseff was accused of altering official budget figures and using funds from state-run banks to cover up the actual condition of Brazil's faltering economy as she ran for re-election in 2014.

"No one is saying we did not commit mistakes. We did. It would be absurd and presumptuous to come before you and say we were an administration that committed no mistakes," she said.

But "we won four elections," Rousseff said. "The Brazilian people knew what they were voting for. But this wasn't in line with the individuals who led the coup."

Her impeachment marked the end of 13 years of rule by the left-of-center Workers Party and left Latin America's largest economy in the hands of conservative Michel Temer.

Investors cheered the regime change in Brazil, as the country's Bovespa stock index posted its best one-year performance since 2009 last year. The index is up nearly 7 percent this year.