02:16 - Source: CNN
Brazilian President Rousseff vows to fight impeachment

Story highlights

Brazil's first female president: "Strong component" of sexism in impeachment battle

Impeachment motion against President Dilma Rousseff now goes to Senate

Rousseff is accused of breaking budgetary laws to cover shortfall in Brazil's deficit

CNN —  

Reiterating she is a victim of an attempted coup, Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff on Tuesday defended fiscal practices that her critics say should get her impeached.

And, prompted by a reporter’s question, the country’s first female president said a “strong component” of sexism was behind efforts to oust her.

There’s a belief some have, Rousseff said, that “women must be nervous, feel pressure.”

“I am not this way. I’m not nervous. I’m not hysterical.”

Rousseff is accused of breaking budgetary laws by borrowing from state banks to cover a shortfall in Brazil’s deficit and pay for popular social programs. She repeatedly stressed those practices were common in her country.

The Folha de Sao Paulo newspaper conducted an analysis and, citing figures from the country’s Central Bank, alleged that Rousseff took the practice much further than her predecessors.

Rousseff said her political opponents who crave power are driving attacks against her.

An impeachment motion, which Brazil’s lower house of Congress approved Sunday, will go to the Senate. If a majority approves it there, Rousseff will have to step down for 180 days to defend herself in an impeachment trial. She could be suspended as early as May, three months before the Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro start.

“There is no legal basis for that impeachment,” she said, adding, “There is no evidence of corruption against me.”

She called herself the “victim of half-truths.”

On Monday, Rousseff vowed to battle for her political survival.

“I will fight, like I have always done in my life. … I am sure that we will have the opportunity to defend ourselves in the Senate,” she told reporters.

That means Rousseff could be suspended as early as May. That would be about three months before the Summer Olympics kick off in Rio de Janeiro, an event that was supposed to showcase Brazil as a rising power on the global stage.

“I want to let you know when you are suffering an injustice or a coup like this you have several options,” she said. “When you have dignity, the only way out is to resist.”

Rousseff was tortured during the country’s military dictatorship.

She has been asked if her struggle from that time is comparable to what she’s going through now, she said.

There was “no way,” she said, to compare the experiences.