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Saturday, May 8, 2021

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Former Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff spoke at SDSU as part of the Provost's Distinguished Lecture Series. Former Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff spoke at SDSU as part of the Provost's Distinguished Lecture Series.

Former Brazilian President Speaks at SDSU

The first female president of Brazil, Dilma Rousseff, discussed democracy in the South American country.
By Cory Marshall

In front of what San Diego State University Provost Chukuka S. Enwemeka said was the largest crowd ever to attend his Distinguished Lecture Series, former Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff defended her political record and discussed the civil unrest currently unfolding in South America's largest country.

Rousseff served as Brazil's first female president from 2011-2016. In 2016, she was impeached by the National Congress for allegedly violating a budgetary law.

Her impeachment and the political environment that led  to her removal from office remained a theme throughout her lecture. Rousseff argued there was no basis for her impeachment and said those behind her ousting are responsible for the current state of government in Brazil.

During her talk, Rousseff  also denounced the jailing of her predecessor, former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva’s (2003-2010), on corruption-related crimes. Despite his imprisonment, Lula da Silva is a frontrunner in the country’s upcoming presidential election. Many members of San Diego's Brazilian community attended the event, some to protest Rousseff's comments and others to support her.

The lecture was part of a joint venture between SDSU and the University of California, San Diego. Stanford University and University of California, Berkeley also hosted separate speaking engagements as part of Rousseff’s California visit.

"Given our longstanding commitment to academic learning, discussion and discourse, it was an honor to welcome President Dilma Rousseff to SDSU. Her visit presented a unique opportunity for our students, faculty and staff to hear, firsthand, from an individual at the forefront of Brazil's contemporary politics and political history," said Enwemeka.

Before becoming president, Rousseff was Brazil's minister of energy and then chief of staff to President Lula da Silva. The Rousseff government continued the previous administration's labor and social programs and initiated policies to reorganize the Brazilian economy in the face of strong resistance. Rousseff recently announced she would run for a position in Brazil's senate.

The event was co-sponsored by SDSU's  J. Keith Behner and Catherine M. Stiefel Program on Brazil. Established in  2014, it is an endowed interdisciplinary and international program intended to expand knowledge of Brazil among faculty and students on campus as well as in the greater San Diego community.

The Provost's Distinguished Lecture Series provides transformational learning experiences for undergraduate and graduate students and promotes academic excellence by allowing the campus community to hear from and interact with prestigious dignitaries, researchers, scholars, and artists. Past lecturers include SDSU alumnus and Costco co-founder Jim Sinegal; SDSU alumnus and Newbery Medal winner Matt de la Peña; and Nobel Laureate Richard Schrock.