Michel Temer became Brazil’s acting president in May when the Senate confirmed it would take up impeachment charges against President Dilma Rousseff, who is facing accusations of mishandling government funds. Temer was the one who oversaw the country during the 2016 Rio Olympics and, after Brazilian lawmakers impeached Rousseff, will remain its head of state until 2018 when a new presidential election takes place.
Rousseff was removed Wednesday from power, with lawmakers voting to impeach her, according to the Washington Post.
Temer is a 75-year-old law professor who served six consecutive terms in the Chamber of Deputies, Brazil’s lower lawmaking chamber, and has been called “chief and vice chief of a coup” against Rousseff.
Here is what you need to know about Temer:
1. Temer’s Presidency (So Far) Has Been Considered More Conservative Than Rousseff’s Leftist Administration
When Temer was named acting president, he filled his cabinet with white men, which, as opponents point out, hasn’t been done in decades. It’s part of a shift, they say, to a more conservative government than Rousseff’s, who was a former guerilla fighter with Marxist politics.
He shrunk the cabinet and looked to appoint people to cabinet positions that have angered liberal groups, according to the New York Times. Temer was also pressured to privatize state-held companies and cut public spending, according to the Times.
Rousseff was Brazil’s first female president — and the first to be impeached.
2. ‘The Most Powerful Lebanese Person Alive,’ Tener is the Youngest Son of Lebanese Immigrants
Tener was born in Brazil to Lebanese parents who left the Middle East for South America in the 1920s. He is the youngest of eight children.
In a 2014 profile, Executive Magazine called him the “Most Powerful Lebanese Person Alive.” According to Temer, he recalls a conversation with Lebanese President Michel Sleiman, in which the Lebanese president told him “you are more president of Lebanon than me as you have eight million, we have five million!”
3. Temer Was An Informant for U.S. Intelligence, WikiLeaks States
WikiLeaks, the document-leaking whistleblower website, revealed Temer was an embassy informant for U.S. intelligence.
In 2006, WikiLeaks showed, Temer had discussions with the U.S. about that year’s elections and the former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva.
Because of Temer’s position and his way of providing information to the U.S., it has been suggested that the impeachment of Rousseff has allies in Washington, D.C., according to Mint Press News.
4. Temer Was Formally Convicted of Violating Election Laws & Can’t Run For Office
The Intercept’s Glenn Greenwald reported in June that Temer can’t run for office for eight years after violating election laws for spending more of his personal money than the law allows.
Temer has also been named in two plea bargains associated with the Lava Jato investigations, where top-ranking officials in the state-run oil company have been accused of a kickbacks scheme. As the BBC points out, however, Temer is not under direct investigation.
As past president of the Brazilian Democratic Movement Party — separate from Rousseff’s Workers’ Party — Temer prided himself in forming coalitions with the presidents, the BBC reported. But that same party has been under scrutiny, tied up in past scandals with both the Senate and House speakers.
5. Temer Called for ‘Unity’ While His Predecessor Called Him ‘Chief of a Coup’
Temer was sworn in as Brazil’s acting president after the Senate affirmed impeachment charges against Rousseff. In his declaration to Brazilians, Temer said citizens should “Trust in the values of our people and in our ability to rebuild the economy,” the BBC reported.
Reuters reported Temer called for “national salvation” under his government.
“It is urgent we calm the nation and unite Brazil,” he said, after a signing ceremony for his incoming cabinet. “Political parties, leaders, organizations and the Brazilian people will cooperate to pull the country from this grave crisis.”
But Rousseff, who fought as a guerilla in revolutionary 1970s Brazil, saw it differently.
“I never imagined that it would be necessary to fight once again against a coup in this country,” Rousseff said.
Rousseff called Temer and the lower house speaker Eduardo Cunha “chief and vice chief of a coup.”