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Happy 77th Birthday to Michel Temer 37th President of Brazil born September 23, 1940

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Michel Miguel Elias Temer Lulia (Portuguese pronunciation: [miˈʃɛw miˈɡɛw eˈliɐs ˈtemeɾ luˈliɐ]; born 23 September 1940) is a Lebanese-Brazilian lawyer and politician who is the 37th and current President of Brazil. He took office on 31 August 2016, after the impeachment and removal from office of his predecessor Dilma Rousseff. He had served as Vice President since 2011 and as Acting President since 12 May 2016, when Rousseff was suspended while she faced an impeachment trial.[1] At the age of 75, he is the oldest person to assume the office.

The 31 August 2016 vote of 61–20 meant that Temer succeeded her to serve out the remainder of Rousseff’s second term, ending 1 January 2019. In his first speech in office, Temer called for a government of “national salvation” and asked for the trust of the Brazilian people.[2] He also signaled his intention to overhaul the pension system and labor laws, and to curb public spending.[3]

Early life and education[edit]

Born in Tietê, São Paulo, Temer is the son of Nakhoul “Miguel” Elias Temer Lulia and March Barbar Lulia, Maronite Catholic Lebanese immigrants who came to Brazil in 1925.[4][5] His parents, along with three older siblings, immigrated to Brazil from Btaaboura, in Northern Lebanon, to escape famine and instability due to World War I. In Brazil, his parents had five more children, and Temer is the youngest. Temer does not speak fluent Arabic, but is able to discern the topic of a conversation in that language.[6][7][8]

As a child, Temer dreamed of becoming a pianist. However, there were no piano teachers in his city.[9] As a teenager, he wanted to be a writer.[10] After failing chemistry and physics classes in his first year of high school, he gave up the “curso científico,” which prioritized hard sciences and math. In 1957, he moved to São Paulo to finish high school in the ” curso clássico”, composed mainly of subjects in the humanities and languages.

In 1959, like his four older brothers he joined the Law School of the University of São Paulo, graduating in 1963.[11] In his freshman year, he became involved with politics by becoming a treasurer of the school’s students’ union. In 1962, Temer ran for the presidency of the union, but was defeated by 82 votes.[11]

Temer stayed neutral before the 1964 coup d’état.[10] With the beginning of military rule, he moved away from politics. In 1974, he completed a doctorate in public law at the Pontifical Catholic University of São Paulo (PUC-SP).

Michel Temer’s parents both hailed from Btaaboura, a small village in northern Lebanon whose population is entirely Antiochian Greek Orthodox, an ancient Christian denomination. But he was raised in Brazil within the Catholic mainstream and later confirmed his affiliation as a Roman Catholic.[12]

Academic career[edit]

In 1968, Temer began teaching constitutional law at PUC-SP, where he also taught civil law and was director of the postgraduate department and of the Brazilian Institute Of Constitutional Law as well as a member of the Ibero-American Institute of Constitutional Law.

Publications[edit]

Temer published four major works in constitutional law. His most famous book is Elements of Constitutional Law, published in 1982, which sold over 240,000 copies.[13] The book focuses on the organization of the Brazilian state, especially on the separation of powers.

His 2006 book Democracy and Citizenship highlighted the relevance of law and included some of his speeches as a federal deputy. In his works, he showed himself to be a supporter of parliamentarism and a political recall system, while opposing economic interventionism and tax increases.[14]

However, he considered himself a writer only in 2013, when he published Anonymous Intimacy, a book of poems. It consists of 120 poems, many of which were written on napkins during his plane trips between São Paulo and Brasílla.[14] Temer said writing poems helped him recover from the “barren arena of legislative politics”.[15]

Political career[edit]

Beginning in 1987 Temer served six consecutive terms in the Chamber of Deputies,[16] and on three separate occasions served two-year terms as president of the Chamber (1997–1998, 1999–2000 and 2009–2010).[4] Temer was also a member of the 1988 constituent assembly, which promulgated the current Constitution of Brazil.[4] He became chairman of the Brazilian Democratic Movement Party (PMDB), the largest party in Brazil.[16]

Temer was the second Vice President of Lebanese origin, after José Maria Alkmin. His family originates from the town of Btaaboura in Koura District, near Tripoli in northern Lebanon.[17][18]

Investigations[edit]

Temer with former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden at the Itamaraty Palace in Brasília, 11 October 2013.

According to official government cables published by Wikileaks, Temer provided information to the U.S. Embassy in Brazil in 2006.[19] Temer is described as gaining the loyalty of lower class Brazilians by strengthening social programs and opposing Lula da Silva.[20] The report has the status “sensitive but unclassified” with Temer stating that Lula da Silva “might finally begin to heed his friends on the left” and would “be led away from the orthodox macro-economic policies that have dominated his first term”.[20]

Role in the impeachment process against Dilma Rousseff[edit]

In 2015 and 2016, Temer was involved in controversy as Dilma Rousseff’s impeachment process unfolded. In December 2015, Temer sent a letter to the president complaining about his distance from government decisions. The letter began with the Latin proverb “Verba Volant, Scripta Manent” (spoken words fly, written words remain). Temer described the communication as a “personal” unburdening about various complaints against the president. He said Rousseff had made him look like a “decorative” vice president, not an active one, despite having been invited to support her government several times in the dialogue with Congress, a role he only accepted in 2015.

Temer campaigning with Dilma Rousseff in 2010.

The letter was commented on and mocked in Brazilian social media, with images depicting the vice president as a Christmas decoration, making fun of his use of Latin, and photos purporting to show the president laughing as she read the missive, among many other things. The president’s office had no immediate comment on the images,[21] but Rousseff condemned him as a traitor to her administration.[22]

In April 2016, an audio file of Temer was leaked to the media. In it, Temer speaks as if the impeachment process had already ended and he was the new president.[23] “I don’t want to generate false expectations,” Temer said on the recordings, which were first published by Folha de S. Paulo on 23 May. “Let’s not think that a possible change in government will solve everything in three or four months.”

The leak came just hours before a special lower house committee was scheduled to vote whether to back the request to impeach the president, generating complaints and accusations of treachery and lack of support from a vice president conspiring against the elected president. Temer alleged it was sent incorrectly to a WhatsApp group of his party’s representatives in Congress.

First impeachment attempts[edit]

Eduardo Cunha (left) at a press conference with fellow PMDB member Renan Calheiros (middle) on 21 May 2015.

As investigations following Operation Car Wash grew, allegations against members of the Brazilian Democratic Movement Party (PMDB) began to arise. In December 2015, impeachment proceedings toward Temer were filed, though his fellow party member, President of the Chamber of Deputies Eduardo Cunha, blocked the movement and instead allowed impeachment proceedings against President Rousseff.[24]

After a Supreme Court judge, Judge Mello, ruled Cunha’s actions wrong, he suggested that Temer should face impeachment proceedings.[24] Another attempt to impeach Temer[25] began with the decision on 6 April 2016, by the president of the Chamber of Deputies, Eduardo Cunha, to form a commission for termination analysis of liability for crime offered by attorney Mariel M. Marra. Four other requests for impeachment were presented to Cunha.[26]

Cunha, who was third in line for the presidency behind Temer, faced scrutiny for alleged money laundering uncovered in Operation Car Wash.[24] On 5 May 2016, Cunha was suspended as speaker of the lower house by Brazil’s Supreme Court due to allegations that he attempted to intimidate members of Congress, and obstructed investigations into his alleged receipt of bribes.[27][28]

On 17 May 2016, Marcos Aurélio allowed the impeachment request to enter the agenda of the Supreme Federal Court plenary session.[29]

Acting President[edit]

Vice President Temer holds his first cabinet meeting as Acting President at the Planalto Palace, 13 May 2016.

In the early hours of 12 May 2016, the Federal Senate voted to accept Rousseff’s impeachment and Temer became acting president under the rules set of the Brazilian Constitution, for a maximum of 180 days while the Senate decided whether to convict Rousseff and remove her from office, which would make Temer President for the remainder of her term, or to acquit her of crimes of responsibility charges and restore her presidential powers. Temer is awaiting a decision from the Supreme Federal Court to start an impeachment process against him.

On his first day as acting president, Vice President Temer appointed a new cabinet, reducing the number of ministries from 31 to 22. Women’s rights and Afro-Brazilian rights activists criticized the fact that all of the appointed ministers were white men, for the first time since 1979.[30][31]

On 2 June 2016, Temer was declared ineligible to run in the 2018 election.[32]

President of Brazil[edit]

Michel Temer during his inauguration in the National Congress, 31 August 2016.

Temer with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Hangzhou, China, 2 September 2016. China is Brazil’s largest commercial partner.[33]

Temer succeeded her Rousseff as President of Brazil on 31 August 2016. His term finishes on 31 December 2018.[34] The vice-president position became vacant, and the President of the Chamber of Deputies acts as the first constitutional substitute during his term.[35]

In October 2016, the Constitution of Brazil was amended by deputies[36] to cap public spending, effectively frozen for twenty years, adjusted for inflation only. This measure was the subject of both praise and criticism among the Brazilian middle-class.[37]

In November 2016, Marcelo Calero, Temer’s former Minister of Culture, resigned, stating that Temer had pressured him to help an ally, government secretary Geddel Vieira Lima, who had invested in a development that was being delayed by a heritage preservation measure by allowing construction to go ahead in spite of said measure. Vieira Lima resigned on 25 November 2016, and opposition leaders stated that they would seek President Temer’s impeachment over this incident.[38] Temer denied the corruption allegations but admitted talking to Calero about the project.[39]

In December 2016, Marcelo Odebrecht confirmed paying bribes to President Temer.[40]

In March 2017, Temer decided to move to the vice-presidential palace again. He had recent problems with the Brazilian Historical Heritage Institute due to the architectural changes he made to the Presidential Palace.[41][42] In an interview to the Brazilian news magazine Veja he mentioned he could not sleep in the “ample rooms” and questioned the possibility of ghosts.[43][44][45][46][47][48]

On 28 April 2017, trade unions called for a general strike against the pension and labor reforms proposed in his government,[49] which failed in many points, especially because the lack of interest of most of the population. Except in state capitals and major cities, in which there were shutdowns of various public services, in most places the strike was restricted to marches, or simply nothing happened[50].

Second impeachment attempt[edit]

On 17 May 2017, secretly taped recordings leaked by O Globo, a leading national newspaper, reveal the President discussing hush money pay-offs with Joesley Batista, the businessman who runs the country’s biggest meat-packing firm JBS,[51][52][53][54] prompting talk of trying again to impeach him.[55][56] On Wednesday 24 May 2017, while thousands of angry demonstrators marched towards Congress demanding Temer’s resignation and immediate direct presidential elections, President Temer sought to suppress a revolt within his own party.[57]

Temer with Vladimir Putin at the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow, 20 June 2017.

Overwhelmed by protests, Temer deployed federal troops to the capital.[58][59] Many photographs and testimonials taken during the protest show police violence, and officers shooting at demonstrators during the manifestation.[60] President Temer’s refusal to resign is making him increasingly unpopular and has provoked not only a political stalemate but also uncertainty, plunging the country into crisis and amplifying the worst recession in its history.[61][62][63]

On 9 June 2017, the Brazilian Superior Electoral Court voted 4–3 to acquit Temer and Rousseff of alleged illegal campaign funding in the 2014 election, thus allowing him to stay in office.[64][65] Former Odebrecht vice-president Marcio Faria da Silva said in testimony given as part of a plea bargain that Temer asked him at a meeting to arrange a $40 million payment to Temer’s party, the Brazilian Democratic Movement Party (PMDB). Faria said he met with Temer at his law office, and that speaker of the lower house Eduardo Cunha and Congressman Henrique Eduardo Alves were also present. The payment represented a 5% commission on a contract Odebrecht was seeking with the state-run oil company Petrobras, Faria said. Supreme Court Justice Luiz Edson Fachin made this and other testimony public, and ordered an investigation of more than 100 politicians implicated in bribes and kickbacks at state-run companies, particularly Petrobras.[66]

Temer and Donald Trump during the 12th G20 summit in Germany, 8 July 2017.

Criminal charges[edit]

On 26 June 2017, Temer was charged by Prosecutor-General Rodrigo Janot with accepting bribes, and Janot delivered the charges to the Supreme Federal Court.[67] The lower house must vote on the charges, which stem from allegations that he took $5 million in return for clearing up JBS tax problems and facilitating a loan. Temer still has the support of Rodrigo Maia, who replaced Cunha as speaker of the lower house, and has the power to accept or shelve a petition for impeachment. Temer is thought to have the votes to remain in office, but to be vulnerable to a loss of support if repeated votes become necessary. Temer twice changed his justice minister in 2017.[68][69] The federal police have recommended that Temer also be charged with obstruction of justice.[67] Funding reductions have forced the Federal Police (PF) to dismantle the workgroup, leaving some investigations incomplete, and Justice Minister Torquato Jardim tried, unsuccessfully, to change PF leadership. A series of legislative initiatives focus on amnesty and changes to the code of criminal procedure.[70]

In June 2017 Temer’s approval rating stood at 7%, the lowest for any president in more than thirty years.[68] DataPoder 360 released a poll June 21 which was conducted June 19-21 and showed an approval rating of 2%. [71] In a survey conducted by the IBOPE institute between 24th and 26th July, 81% of Brazilians favored the indictment of the President. [72] However, although the allegations President Temer faces are much more serious than those of his impeached predecessor, Dilma Rousseff, on 2 August, lawmakers in the lower house in Congress voted not to refer the case against the scandal-plagued President to the supreme court, which has the power to try him. Observers and the population state that the move to shield Temer only further undermines the credibility of Brazil’s political and electoral system. [73] [74] [75]

Deforestation of the Amazon rainforest[edit]

In August 2017, Temer has abolished an Amazonian reserve the size of Denmark in Brazil’s northern states of Pará and Amapá.[76]

Awards and decorations[edit]

Selected awards: [77]

Award or decoration Country Year Note
DNK Order of Danebrog Grand Cross BAR.png Grand Cross of Dannebrog  Denmark 1999 Contribution to the arts, sciences or business life or for those working for Danish interests
PRT Order of Prince Henry - Grand Officer BAR.png Knighthood of the Order of Prince Henry (Grand Officer)  Portugal 1998 Exceptional and outstanding merit for Portugal and its culture
Red ribbon bar - general use.svg Legion of Honor  France 1998 French highest order of merit.

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