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A Bunch of Men Will Likely Take Over After Brazil's First Female President Is Ousted

Michel Temer, Brazil’s interim president after the impeachment of Dilma Rousseff, took office Thursday, and announced a new cabinet — without one single woman in it.

by Eva Hershaw
May 12 2016, 5:18pm

Photo by Leonardo Muñoz/EPA

Less than three hours after the Brazilian Senate voted for the suspension of president Dilma Rousseff, vice president Michel Temer officially assumed the position as interim president of Latin America's largest country.

Backed by a small group of political allies, the 75-year-old Temer signed a document sent by Senate President Renan Calheiros, without fanfare or ceremony.

Rousseff addressed the nation outside the presidential palace for what will likely be the last time, saying she was "proud to be the first woman elected as the president of Brazil".

Her comments came shortly after Temer released the list of ministers who would make up his interim government. For the first time since the 1974-1979 presidential term, the list included not a single woman. President Lula da Silva, by contrast, had 11 female ministers, while Rousseff had 15.

The announcement was met with disbelief by many Brazilians who fear the interim government led by Temer will not represent the interests of women or other minority groups.

"[The lack of women] has a symbolic dimension, but it also says a lot about what kind of public policies could come from such a non-diverse group," wrote Manoela Miklos, a columnist who focuses on women's issues in the Brazilian newspaper Folha de São Paulo.

On the eve of the Senate vote, Rousseff referenced the ongoing struggle for gender equality in the country.

"I feel that I have been the victim of an injustice," she said Tuesday night, speaking at a conference on women's politics. "But I am a victim like so many Brazilian men and women, especially the women...we are victims with a will to fight."

Temer is expected to address the nation later Thursday, but has wasted little time in preparing his prospective government in past weeks.

Related: President Rousseff's Likely Impeachment Will Push Brazil to the Right

After the impeachment vote in the Senate, the conservative politician announced that a government under his control would reverse many of the programs implemented by the last two Workers' Party administrations. In addition to cutting spending on social programs and pension funds, he intends to remove protections for workers that conservatives have criticized as hindering investment.

It is yet to be seen what kind of political support Temer is able to rally as the interim president of a nation crippled by compounded economic and political crises. Dilma supporters have been protesting for weeks during the process that led to her impeachment, saying a reversal of the leftist policies of the Rousseff and Lula administrations would have devastating effects for the country's poor and working class.

All of Brazil's major political parties have been implicated in a sweeping corruption scandal, called Lava Jato or Car Wash, in which bribes were allegedly paid in exchange for inflated contracts with the state-run oil company Petrobras.

Temer has not been investigated in connection with the probe, though he has been named by witnesses in the case. He also oversaw Petrobras during the height of the corruption scandal, and approved the questionable accounting measures that were used as justification for Rousseff's impeachment.

As Rousseff finished her speech, supporters applauded while she departed the presidential palace. They chanted "Temer out!" and carried signs denouncing the interim president as a corrupt, disloyal replacement for Rousseff, a president elected less than two years ago with 54 million popular votes.

Related: Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff to Face Trial After Senate Votes to Impeach Her

Follow Eva Hershaw on Twitter: @beets4eva