Latin America's 'Pink Tide' Ebbs to New Low in Brazil
...Brazil's Senate has convicted Rousseff.
Giant Brazil was a leader in the regional movement, providing two of its most emblematic presidents: Rousseff and her once hugely popular predecessor, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.
They brought radical street cred from the bad old days in Latin America.
She was an urban guerrilla jailed and tortured by the military regime installed after Brazil's 1964 coup. He was a rabble-rousing steelworker who helped lead the fight for democracy.
But they also brought business-friendly economic policies to blend with revolutionary social programs.
Lula took office in 2003 with a mission to turn Brazil into a middle-class powerhouse driven by consumer spending.
He was lucky to arrive just in time for the emerging markets boom, when demand from a ravenous China fueled soaring prices for the region's oil, minerals and other commodities.
When he handed over to Rousseff after two terms, economic growth stood at 7.5 percent. More than 29 million Brazilians had escaped poverty.
But it all came crashing down.. for the entire region, which is facing its second year of recession this year.
"Clearly the commodity dependency remains greater than some people thought," (William) LeoGrande, (a political scientist at American University in Washington) said.
Rousseff is charged with using unauthorized state loans to plug budget holes. Unofficially, she is taking the blame for Brazil's worst recession in 80 years and a multi-billion-dollar corruption scandal at the state oil company Petrobras.
Lula, still seen as potential comeback material in 2018, faces corruption charges in the scandal and risks watching the election from jail.
Some supporters say the Workers' Party (PT) turned too pink for its own good, cozying up to parties that wanted only the keys to the government pork barrel, and forgetting its roots.
The PT "slowly alienated its base, stopped training new leadership, allied with centrist and right-wing parties to guarantee 'governability' and had leading party figures involved in corruption," Jose Oscar Beozzo, a Brazilian leftist theologian, told AFP by email.
The party "was devastated by pragmatism and alliances," said the openly critical PT veteran Tarso Genro, who served in Lula's cabinet.
Despite Rousseff's argument that her impeachment is a "coup," the region has come a long way since the Cold War, when coups meant tanks in the streets.
The good news for the left in the new democratic era, he added, is that the right has never proved any better at managing economic crises.
"All of the center-right parties and right-wing parties that are benefiting from the collapse of the left everywhere in Latin America themselves suffered a similar collapse a decade ago," he said.
"Democracy is a wonderful thing."