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sexta-feira, 29 de março de 2019

Jair Bolsonaro’s Southern Strategy - Jon Lee Anderson (New Yorker)

Se Bolsonaro tivesse uma "estratégia meridional, como argumenta Jon Lee Anderson, da New Yorker, isso representaria um enorme progresso, pois significaria que haveria algo, ainda que minimamente racional, em lugar do caos criado pela famiglia Bolsonaro, com três zeros igualmente caóticos dividindo o trabalho para atrapalhar o governo, um na política externa, outro na interna e um terceiro sabe-se lá com quem exatamente, pois os vínculos com as milícias criminosas é o que foi reportado pela imprensa.
Ou seja, ainda falta um enorme progresso para que se chegue a um arremedo de estratégia.
Por enquanto, o que se tem é um "esquecimento" providencial de coisas do passado, das quais se encarregou de lembrar Jon Lee: “I would prefer that my son die in an accident than show up with some guy with a mustache.” 
Mas Anderson também parece minimizar a gigantesca corrupção do regime lulopetista: 
[Lula's] administration did little to diminish Brazil’s tradition of corruption, and not enough to reduce crime or develop industry,...". 
De fato, Lula foi o maior mafioso quadrilheiro de toda a história do Brasil, o maior ladrão do hemisfério, um psicopata megalomaníaco.
Paulo Roberto de Almeida

The New Yorker, April 1, 2019 Issue
Jair Bolsonaro’s Southern Strategy
In Brazil, a budding authoritarian borrows from the Trump playbook.

Jair Bolsonaro promises prosperity and order. His critics fear tyranny.

 Illustration by Bráulio Amado; photograph by Simon Dawson / Bloomberg / Getty

The authoritarian leaders taking power around the world share a vocabulary of intolerance, insult, and menace. Jair Bolsonaro, who was elected President of Brazil on promises to end crime, right the economy, and “make Brazil great,” has spent his career gleefully offending women, black people, environmentalists, and gays. “I would be incapable of loving a homosexual son,” he has said. “I would prefer that my son die in an accident than show up with some guy with a mustache.” As a national legislator, he declared one political rival, Maria do Rosário, “not worth raping.” Immigrants are “scum.” The United Nations is “a bunch of communists.” He supports the torture of drug dealers, the use of firing squads, and the empowerment of a hyper-aggressive police force. “A policeman who doesn’t kill,” he has said, “isn’t a policeman.”
On New Year’s Day, Bolsonaro was inaugurated in the capital city of Brasília. Standing in the back of a Rolls-Royce Silver Wraith convertible, he waved at crowds of supporters, and they shouted back, “The captain has arrived!” “The legend!” Bodyguards trotted alongside the car, flanked by uniformed cavalrymen on elegant white horses. Bolsonaro is sixty-four, tall and slim, with sharply parted dark hair and heroically bushy eyebrows. His third wife, Michelle, stood next to him, waving at the masses.
After the inaugural ceremony, Bolsonaro gave a speech outside Planalto, the Presidential palace; huge video screens magnified his image for tens of thousands of supporters. Many wore Brazilian flags draped over their shoulders and T-shirts featuring the outline of Bolsonaro’s face, in the style of the movie poster for “The Godfather.” At the ceremony, Bolsonaro had spoken broadly of the need to “unite the people.” Now, addressing his most fervent supporters, he could relax. He said that he had come to free them from the scourge of socialism—an allusion to his left-leaning predecessors Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva and Dilma Rousseff, who had governed from 2003 to 2016. “Our flag will never be red,” he said. “It will be red only if we need to bleed over it.” The crowd took up a chant: “Never red!”
A former Army captain, Bolsonaro served seven undistinguished terms in the Chamber of Deputies, Brazil’s highest legislative body, representing four different political parties. Over twenty-seven years, he delivered some fifteen hundred speeches and introduced more than a hundred and fifty bills, but only two passed—one exempting computer equipment from taxation and another approving a controversial cancer drug. Mostly, he spoke on behalf of the armed forces, even calling for a restoration of the repressive military dictatorship that governed Brazil from 1964 to 1985. In one interview, he discounted the idea that democracy could bring order and prosperity: “You’ll only change things by having a civil war and doing the work the military regime didn’t do. . . . If a few innocent people die, that’s all right.”
Like many autocrats, Bolsonaro came to power with a suddenness that alarmed the élites. He had run a low-budget campaign, consisting mostly of a social-media effort overseen by his son Carlos. At events with supporters, he posed for selfies making a gesture as if he were shooting a machine gun. He promised to “reconstruct the country”—and to return power to a political right that had been in eclipse for decades. In the inaugural ceremony, he vowed to “rescue the family, respect religions and our Judeo-Christian tradition, combat gender ideology, conserving our values.”
Afterward, Bolsonaro received a procession of foreign dignitaries, and as they stepped up to pay their respects the crowd greeted them with cheers or boos. The Hungarian autocrat Viktor Orbán got perfunctory applause; the bolsonaristas seemed not to know who he was. The Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, who is fending off charges of fraud and bribery, got a riotous cheer. Bolivia’s President, Evo Morales, the only left-wing leader to attend, was subjected to shouts of “Get out, communist,” and “índio de merda”—“fucking Indian.”
Despite Bolsonaro’s divisive rhetoric, American conservatives were enthusiastic about his Presidency. He had expressed leeriness of China and hostility toward socialists in Cuba and Venezuela; he promised to move Brazil’s Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Donald Trump didn’t attend the inauguration, but he tweeted his solidarity: “The USA is with you!” Bolsonaro, who sees in Trump a kindred spirit and an opportunity, tweeted back, “Together, under God’s protection, we shall bring prosperity and progress to our people!”
Brasília, built in the late nineteen-fifties, is a city of immense spaces, with sweeping lawns and public buildings in curvilinear shapes—a “Jetsons”-era vision of optimism for the future. As the seat of government, it is home to tens of thousands of middle-class bureaucrats and their families. It is also a place where destitute people camp out in improvised shelters alongside highways and use grand fountains to wash their laundry. The country’s population, two hundred and nine million people, is bitterly polarized. Violent crime is endemic. In 2017, nearly sixty-four thousand Brazilians were murdered, an average of about a hundred and seventy-five every day. The economy, after several years of devastating recession, is virtually stagnant. Twenty-five per cent of the population lives below the poverty line of five dollars and fifty cents a day.
A decade ago, Brazil was prospering, amid a boom in oil and other commodities. Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, the President at the time, was a charismatic leftist; the son of farmworkers, he had gone from shoeshine boy to steelworker and union leader before taking office, in 2003. Lula was popular, and his Workers’ Party (known by its Portuguese initials, P.T.) instituted generous domestic programs. His administration did little to diminish Brazil’s tradition of corruption, and not enough to reduce crime or develop industry, but, as long as commodities prices stayed high, the economy thrived. In 2005, his government finished paying off a fifteen-billion-dollar loan to the International Monetary Fund, a year ahead of schedule.
In 2010, Lula stepped aside, having reached the legal limit of two consecutive terms, and his protégée Dilma Rousseff—a leftist guerrilla in her youth—became Brazil’s first female President. But commodities prices were slipping, and in her second term a corruption scandal exploded around the state-run oil company, Petrobras. Brazilians came to the streets to protest, and Rousseff’s political rivals sensed an opportunity. In 2016, they began hearings to impeach her, on charges of improperly using loans from state banks to obscure a budget deficit. Rousseff’s supporters complained of hypocrisy, noting that many members of the Brazilian legislature had been indicted for crimes ranging from bribery and money laundering to kidnapping and slavery. (The legislator who led the impeachment effort, Eduardo Cunha, was subsequently convicted of taking forty million dollars in bribes.) But the bid to remove Rousseff worked. It also helped draw attention to Bolsonaro. During the proceedings, he dedicated his vote to Carlos Brillhante Ustra, who had commanded the military unit that captured and tortured Rousseff when she was a young guerrilla.
For Brazilians watching the news in recent years, the country can appear to be perilously in decline. An enormous scandal—called Operação Lava Jato, or “Operation Car Wash”—seems to involve every third official in the government. Two dams have collapsed at mine sites in the countryside, releasing millions of gallons of waste. Last September, an accidental fire broke out at the two-hundred-year-old National Museum, destroying an irreplaceable ethnographic collection. “The country is overwhelmed by a terrible feeling that we have failed as a nation,” Gunter Axt, a Brazilian historian, told me. “And perhaps it is true.”
When Bolsonaro won his party’s nomination, in July, 2018, he seemed to offer a total inversion of political power and ideology. The military, despite a constitutional mandate to stay out of politics, backed him openly, as did a raft of wealthy business interests. His strongest competitor, Lula, was sidelined;Sérgio Moro, the judge who oversaw the Car Wash trials, had sentenced him to twelve years in prison, on charges of corruption and money laundering. Still, Lula retained a large lead in the polls, and he appealed to the Supreme Court to allow him to remain free so that he could run in the election. The appeal was denied, a few days after the commander of the Brazilian Army suggested on Twitter that the armed forces wanted him in jail. This February, Lula, who is seventy-three, was given an additional thirteen-year sentence. Moro is now Bolsonaro’s minister of justice.
Bolsonaro’s Vice-President, Hamilton Mourão, told me that his boss’s greatest virtue was his humble roots. “People have to understand, he comes from one of the poorest parts of São Paulo state,” he said. “He is a self-made man. He understands the problems of poor people, and he says what they want to hear.” Bolsonaro is often compared with Trump, but Mourão disputed the analogy. “Trump has always had a lot of money,” he said. “Bolsonaro was never rich. But both came in the moments that their countries needed them.”
Bolsonaro grew up in Eldorado, a sleepy town in Brazil’s “banana heartland,” south of São Paulo. His parents, who were of Italian and German descent, moved there when he was a boy, and his father, an itinerant dentist, set up a practice. One of six children—several of whom have never left Eldorado—Bolsonaro did not get along with his father, whom he has described as a heavy drinker who inspired discord in the family. He has claimed, perhaps straining credulity, that he did not speak to his father until he was twenty-eight, at which point he stopped hoping for him to change and decided to buy him a drink; after that they became “good friends.”
In 1970, during the first decade of military rule, a Brazilian Army unit descended on Eldorado in pursuit of Carlos Lamarca, an officer who had gone rogue and joined a Marxist guerrilla group. As the soldiers ransacked houses and searched the woods for hideouts, Bolsonaro, who was fifteen, was enthralled; he offered to help them in their search.
Three years later, Bolsonaro was accepted into the Army’s cadet corps, and he soon transferred to the élite Agulhas Negras (Black Needles) Military Academy. While he was training, Brazil’s Army was engaged in a vicious campaign to eliminate leftists. Thousands of Brazilians were detained in secret torture centers, and more than four hundred were killed, their bodies disappeared. Bolsonaro apparently played no part in the repression, but he hasn’t condemned it. He has said of the military regime that its “biggest mistake was to torture and not kill.”
In 1985, Brazil returned to democratic rule, and the military returned to its barracks. Soon afterward, Bolsonaro wrote an unauthorized magazine article in which he complained about the military hierarchy and argued for increased wages for the troops. His superiors imprisoned him for two weeks, for creating an “environment of unrest.” A year later, he faced a more serious charge: as part of his campaign to increase wages, he had conspired to put pressure on commanders by setting off grenades at military garrisons around Rio. Although he proclaimed his innocence, investigators found sketches for the bombing plan drawn in his hand. Bolsonaro was found guilty by a disciplinary committee but cleared in the Superior Military Court, where a majority of judges decided that there was insufficient evidence; he was allowed to enter the reserves as a captain, with a full pension. There were reports that Bolsonaro had been treated favorably, to prevent unrest in the lower ranks—although several judges chided him for being “consumed by vanity.”
Around that time, Bolsonaro won a seat on Rio’s city council, representing the Christian Democratic Party. In 1990, he was elected to the Chamber of Deputies, where he became known for intemperate behavior, registering more disciplinary proceedings than any of his peers. In 2003, he grew violent during a dispute with the legislator Maria do Rosário, twice shoving her roughly in the chest. When she protested, he said that she was a “slut” and told her to “go cry.” In 2014, he called out to Rosário during a congressional session, crudely reminding her of the incident. Bolsonaro was fined twenty-five hundred dollars for having “offended his colleague’s honor.”
During Bolsonaro’s Presidential campaign, women protested his candidacy, under the slogan #NotHim. Nevertheless, he got more than half the female vote. When he was denounced, it often seemed only to strengthen his support. Last September, a month before the first round of voting, he visited the provincial city of Juiz de Fora. He was relaxed, wearing jeans and a T-shirt, as his supporters carried him through the streets on their shoulders. Suddenly, a man carrying a knife concealed in a plastic bag lurched forward and stabbed him in the stomach. The attack nearly killed Bolsonaro; his liver, lung, and intestines were punctured, and he lost a great deal of blood. But it gave him a clear bounce in the polls. On October 7th, he won forty-six per cent of the vote. His nearest opponent—Fernando Haddad, called in at the last minute to replace the imprisoned Lula—got twenty-nine per cent. In the second round, Bolsonaro beat Haddad again, and he began to speak of the attack in providential terms. At his inauguration, he thanked God for saving him so that he could “carry out the honorable mission of governing Brazil.”
In late November, Bolsonaro appeared at an anniversary celebration for Brazil’s Paratrooper Infantry Brigade, from which he graduated, in 1977. The Brigade is stationed inside the Military Village, a fastidiously maintained complex on the run-down outskirts of Rio de Janeiro. When Bolsonaro arrived, in a procession of black S.U.V.s, officers in camouflage swarmed around, greeting him with salutes and affectionate hugs. Bolsonaro stood at the podium, watching with satisfaction, as parachutists jumped from planes and descended onto a wide lawn.
Later, Bolsonaro spoke to a group of reporters, who seemed unfazed by the habitual abuse that he directed at them. One asked about rumors that he was using a colostomy bag after the assault, and that he would have to undergo more surgery. He said yes, with a disdainful look. Asked whether his son Carlos might join his administration, Bolsonaro replied defensively: “My children are still with me, without any problem. He can have a place in the government if he so desires.”
Bolsonaro’s three sons from his first marriage, who are in their mid-thirties, are a central part of his political team. He calls them Zero One, Zero Two, and Zero Three. Flávio, the eldest, won a seat in the Senate last year. Carlos, who helped run his father’s campaign, is an alderman in the Rio city council. Eduardo, the youngest, is possibly the most extreme of the brothers. In the impeachment proceedings against Rousseff, he stood behind his father, mouthing along with his words as he cast his vote in the name of her torturer. A former federal policeman, Eduardo recently joined Steve Bannon’s far-right organization, the Movement, as its Latin America representative. (Bolsonaro also has a fourth son, Renan, a law student, from his second marriage, and a young daughter, Laura, with his current wife.)
Bolsonaro’s administration is heavily stocked with military leaders; eight of the twenty-two cabinet positions are filled by ex-generals. His ideas are informed by Olavo de Carvalho, a philosopher and a former astrologer who has attracted a following with eccentric interpretations of works by Machiavelli, Descartes, and others. Carvalho, seventy-one, lives in Richmond, Virginia, where he identifies with American “redneck” culture by hunting bears, smoking cigarettes, and drinking. Two current cabinet ministers were appointed on his recommendation: the education minister, Ricardo Vélez Rodríguez, a conservative theologian; and the foreign minister, Ernesto Araújo. Both subscribe to Carvalho’s notions that “cultural Marxism” has contaminated Western society and that climate change is a Marxist plot. Carvalho lends a patina of intellectualism to Bolsonaro’s proposals; recently Carvalho told an interviewer that Brazil’s problem with violent crime might have been averted if the military regime had killed the right twenty thousand people.
Much of Bolsonaro’s political support comes from agribusiness, the arms industry, and the religious right, a nexus of power referred to as the Three “B”s—beef, bullets, and Bibles. In Brasília, I met with Alberto Fraga, one of his oldest friends and a close political ally, who headed the “bullet bloc” in congress for two decades, until a recent conviction on bribery charges. (Fraga is appealing the decision.) In office, Bolsonaro had moved quickly to loosen gun laws, and Fraga, who was a police officer for twenty-eight years, was pleased that more people would be able to own weapons. (It was also good for business; the stock value of Taurus, Brazil’s largest gun manufacturer, has doubled since Bolsonaro secured his party’s nomination.) “Guns don’t increase crime,” Fraga said. “Public policies do.” He had forty-eight guns himself, he told me, shrugging: “I like them.”
Bolsonaro posits authoritarian violence as the way to solve Brazil’s crime problem. In one television interview, he said that officers who kill dozens of troublemakers “need to be decorated, not prosecuted.” His allies, like Trump’s, at least feign exasperation at their leader’s rhetorical excesses. Fraga told me, “I think that’s just him talking. We need to get him to control that.” But these sorts of views are common among his loyalists. The newly elected governor of Rio de Janeiro state recently initiated a “shoot to kill” policy against armed criminals and recommended that police helicopters patrolling the favelas carry snipers to “slaughter” anyone openly carrying a weapon. In February, police officers in the Fallet-Fogueteiro favela killed thirteen young men, most of whom were reportedly executed after they had surrendered.
Bolsonaro’s programs risk giving greater license to a police force that is famously violent and corrupt. For years, Marielle Franco, a popular left-wing city councilwoman, spoke out against extrajudicial killings by police officers in the city’s favelas. In March, 2018, Franco, an openly bisexual black woman, was killed in downtown Rio.
One afternoon, I visited Marcelo Freixo, a fifty-one-year-old congressman from Franco’s party, who has spent years investigating Rio’s milícias—paramilitary groups, linked to the police, that compete for territory with criminal gangs in the favelas. Because he has received many death threats, he lives in a closely guarded building, next to an Army base, and travels with armed guards provided by the state. He told me that he believed Franco was killed by former members of the police’s Élite Squad, working for a group of hit men known as the Crime Bureau. “Her assassination was the most sophisticated in the history of modern Rio,” he said. Franco was tracked by men driving a car with a cloned license plate, and killed with four precise shots to the head; the weapon was a submachine gun often used by Rio’s military police. Freixo surmised that her killers were hired by rival politicians. “You can’t understand Rio unless you understand the organized crime here,” he said. “Naples has nothing on us. It’s not a parallel state—it is the state.”
Franco’s killing has led to one of the Bolsonaro administration’s biggest scandals, as the Brazilian press has noted links between suspects and the President’s family. Flávio served in the state legislature alongside Franco, and the two sometimes clashed. Like his father, he has argued to legalize the milícias, in the hope of putting pressure on drug-trafficking gangs. In January, it was revealed that Flávio had employed the wife and the mother of Adriano Magalhães da Nóbrega, a former policeman who was now the leader of the Crime Bureau. Nóbrega was wanted in connection with the killing, but he had fled before he could be detained. As an investigation began, Flávio persuaded a friendly judge to have it quashed, but another judge reversed the ruling, and the inquiry has continued. Flávio maintains that he has “nothing to hide,” and Jair Bolsonaro says that he believes his son—though he has promised to let justice take its course. Steve Bannon dismissed the case as politically motivated—a witch hunt. The forces of “cultural Marxism,” he said, had attacked the Bolsonaros, who were “extraordinary people.”
The investigation has produced no conclusions, but there has been some political fallout. Jean Wyllys, one of the country’s three openly gay lawmakers, was on a trip abroad when the news broke about Flávio’s connection with the Crime Bureau. Wyllys, a friend and political ally of Franco’s, announced that he would not return to Brazil; he did not want to choose between living with bodyguards and risking death. Wyllys was an antagonist of Bolsonaro’s. When Bolsonaro cast his vote during Rousseff’s impeachment, Wyllys spat at him. After Wyllys announced that he was not returning, Bolsonaro tweeted, “Great Day!” with a thumbs-up emoji. Freixo, from his apartment in Rio, shot back: “How about you start behaving like President of the Republic and stop acting like a brat? Show some dignity.”
On the left, the new administration has inspired fears that the country is “going back to 1964,” the year that the military seized power. But some liberals have strained to understand the new order on its own terms. One of the most visible is Fernando Gabeira, a founder of Brazil’s Green Party who is legendary for his involvement in a Marxist guerrilla group that, in 1969, kidnapped the American Ambassador to Brazil. In the eighties, Gabeira gained additional celebrity by posing for seaside photographs wearing only a crocheted bikini bottom.
Gabeira is now seventy-eight. A lean man with silver hair and rimless glasses, he lives in an apartment near Ipanema Beach. Working as a television interviewer, he spoke with Bolsonaro supporters during the campaign, trying to understand their motivations. Gabeira told me that he saw Bolsonaro’s victory as a reaction to the “moral collapse” of the left, owing to the P.T.’s corruption scandals. In his view, “the left is finished unless it deals with its failings and engages in self-criticism.” Many leftists evidently believe that the criticism is better applied elsewhere; after Gabeira had a friendly exchange with Bolsonaro on the air, he was accused of “normalizing barbarism.”
Brazil, particularly in the countryside, is a traditionalist, Catholic country, and at times the urban left has made it easy for Bolsonaro to score points. In Rio, a woman who works as a literary translator told me about a fracas in her son’s public high school. Last year, amid a debate on gender identity, the chancellor decreed that the female school uniform was valid for both sexes, and some male students and teachers began wearing skirts to class. Conservative parents were furious. “You can just imagine,” she said. The school had also hosted a commemoration of China’s bloody Cultural Revolution, with activities that uncritically celebrated Mao’s “achievements.” Worst of all, the teachers belonged to a communist-linked union, and often went on strike, sometimes for months. A parents’ group was formed to get the children back into the classroom, with little success. “The Maoist and gay stuff was crazy, but we were able to deal with it,” she said. “We couldn’t get the union to budge.” She laughed bitterly and held open her hands. “And so now we have the fascists.”
In situations like these, Bolsonaro has deftly exploited conservative resentments. Under Rousseff, the government offended traditionalists by legalizing same-sex marriage and designing materials for schools to combat homophobia. During the Presidential race, Bolsonaro repeatedly told crowds that the P.T. had tried to introduce a “gay kit” to their children. A rash of messages linked to his campaign arrived on voters’ phones, accusing P.T. candidates of endorsing pedophilia.
For gay Brazilians, these actions intensified a sense of siege. There has been an alarming increase in homophobic attacks. Brazil already had the world’s highest levels of lethal violence against L.G.B.T.Q. people, with four hundred and forty-five murders reported in 2017. During the Presidential election, some fifty attacks took place that were directly linked to Bolsonaro’s supporters; among them were at least two incidents in which trans women were killed by men who invoked his name.

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