Mrs. Rousseff’s political career began in the mid-1980s as one of several left-wing activists who fought the neoliberal boom. In the 1990s, she joined the Communist Party of Brazil. When Lula Rousseff, one of her three sons, moved to work at Vale — the largest steelmaker in the world — Dilma Rousseff became active in the landless campesino movement.
When she left the Communist Party in 2006, she moved back to work in Lula’s Workers’ Party. She was appointed by Mr. Lula as minister of energy and mines and served in that position until 2011. As a minister, she became known for her colorful and sharp language. She said that Brazil needed to develop more and more dependable nuclear energy to reduce its reliance on foreign oil. She also criticized Brazil’s military for demanding funds from the public in order to fund the 2014 World Cup. During her tenure as minister, Vale won some $38 billion in contracts in a bidding process that her political opponents said had been flawed.
She was elevated to the cabinet position of Solicitor General, taking over the position that was in the midst of being filled by Sergio Moro, who is now leading the judicial investigation into the Petrobras corruption scheme.
In 2016, she was appointed as vice president when Mr. Lula Rousseff was forced to step down. The impeachment, however, ended her own political career.