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Bolsonaro: unnecessary evil

Reposting from the “What are you thinking?” thread:

Brazil’s culture secretary appears to paraphrase Nazi propaganda in speech, inciting backlash

“Appears” is WP’s own euphemism, he was indeed. He’s been fired already, but it was ugly.

Seated at a desk before a Lorraine cross, Roberto Alvim, who was appointed special secretary of culture by Brazil’s nationalist president Jair Bolsonaro, promised in a six-minute speech that Brazilian art will soon be at its vanguard.

The music playing in the background of the video, according to Folha de Sao Paulo, was from the opera “Lohengrin,” by Richard Wagner, which Hitler described in his autobiography as being pivotal in his life

Some videos about the situation in Brazil these days. The all have English subtitles.

A shorter video, also subtitled.

Stranger than fiction… but much, much better:

Reports in the Brazilian media said civil police investigators arrested Fabrício Queiroz, a former police officer who has known Bolsonaro since the 1980s, on Thursday morning in Atibaia, a town 40 miles north of São Paulo.

The property where Queiroz was arrested is reportedly owned by Frederick Wassef, a lawyer who represents Bolsonaro and his son Flávio. Queiroz previously worked for Flávio Bolsonaro, who is now a senator.

The whereabouts of Fabrício Queiroz, the former adviser to Flávio Bolsonaro stuck preventively on this Thursday (18.Jun.2020), it had already been released on May 20 by Heloísa de Carvalho and Bruno Maia. She is the daughter of Olavo de Carvalho, considered the “guru” of the government’s ideological wing.

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Dr Rey from Dr 90210 didn’t manage to get elected as a councilman in Vargem Grande Paulista in the Brazilian municipal elections yesterday.

Vargem Grande Paulista has around 50000 people.

You reckon they’re holding out for Ronaldinho instead?

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Looking at the list of the parties in their new city council, Ronaldinho has a great chance over there… He’s been released from jail in Paraguay and is a Bolsominion, so I would say his chances over there aren’t bad.

But, seriously, these municipal elections were pretty bad for Bolsonaro. Not stellar for the left, but abysmal for him. His candidates lost basically in most major cities, save Rio and Fortaleza were they came in second and will do a run off in 2 weeks.

Here in Sao Paulo, his candidate, Celso Russomano, came in 4th place and he only elected like 5 council people. We got two trans people in the council and PT and PSOL got 1/3 of the council. My candidate for mayor, Guilherme Boulos, got into the run offs, so I’m pretty glad. Everything could’ve been much worse.

When do you guys get a chance to unseat Bolsanaro himself? Feels like he’s been doing his thing roughly as long as Trump.

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For as long as it seems, he got elected in 2018, so 2 more looong years of leaving in a Monty Python movie, that if he doesn’t get reelected.

Right now I think it’s unlikely, but I’m also not super optimistic for the possibilities, which could very much be a version of him that knows how to use silverware, like the Governor of Sao Paulo, Joao Doria, or something like Sergio Moro and Luciano Huck, all early Bolsonaro supporters, because our left is still pretty disorganized in the national level.

Rio de Janeiro mayor charged with corruption

Rio de Janeiro’s outgoing mayor Marcelo Crivella, an ally of Brazil’s far-right president, Jair Bolsonaro, has been arrested and charged with corruption.

Four carloads of police and prosecutors arrived at the mayor’s house in the affluent Barra da Tijuca neighbourhood before 6am.

Prosecutors later filed corruption charges against Crivella and 25 others, saying in a statement that wiretaps, seizures, witness and collaborating witness statements had revealed “a well-structured and complex criminal organisation led by Crivella that had acted in city hall since 2017”.

But for Rio’s long-suffering residents, news that another politician had been arrested came as no surprise. The former Rio state governor Sérgio Cabral is serving a prison sentence for corruption. His successor Luiz Fernando Souza – known as “Bigfoot” – was released from prison a year ago. Rio’s latest governor, Wilson Witzel, was suspended over alleged Covid-19 related graft in August. He has denied the accusations. “Like other governors, I am being used politically, possibly,” he said at the time.

General Brazil thread now.

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Brazil Is Brilliant at Vaccinations. So What Went Wrong This Time?

SÃO PAULO, Brazil — When it comes to Covid-19 vaccination programs, there are some countries that have exceeded expectations and others that have fallen surprisingly short. And then there is Brazil.

Vaccinating over 210 million people may sound daunting, but for Brazil it really shouldn’t be. With one of the largest universal, free-of-charge public health systems in the world, the country has a distinguished track record of vaccinations and disease control. The National Immunization Program, founded in 1973, helped to eradicate polio and rubella in the country and currently offers more than 20 vaccines free in every municipality.

Along with the infrastructure to distribute vaccines, there’s also the expertise to do so: In 1980, the country vaccinated 17.5 million children against polio in a single day. In 2010, over 89 million doses of the swine flu vaccine were administered in under four months. And last year, more than 70 million Brazilians received their annual shot against influenza.

We take immunization so seriously here that we even have a mascot for vaccination campaigns, an adorable six-foot smiling white blob named “Zé Gotinha,” Joe Droplet. (This glorious national hero apparently refused to shake hands with President Jair Bolsonaro during an official event in December.)

But despite these advantages, Brazil’s vaccine rollout has been painfully slow, inconsistent and marred by shortages. The nationwide program began on Jan. 18, later than over 50 countries, and at its current rate will take more than four years to complete. Several major cities, such as Rio de Janeiro and Salvador, have already had to stop their campaigns because of problems in supply.

In a country where the pandemic has wrought terrible damage — 250,000 people have died, the second-highest total in the world, after the United States, as cities along the Amazon River like Manaus have been abandoned to their fate — the failure amounts to a disaster.

So what went wrong? Perhaps we should look to Joe Droplet: He seems to know exactly who to blame.

From the beginning, Mr. Bolsonaro’s government downplayed the seriousness of the pandemic. The president fought against masks and social distancing measures, comparing the coronavirus to rain that would fall on most people while drowning just some of them. (“It’s no use staying home crying,” he recently said, after the country registered 1,452 deaths on a single day.) In the middle of the outbreak, he managed to get rid of two health ministers — both doctors — who threatened to contradict him, replacing them with an army general.

What’s more, not only did Mr. Bolsonaro spend emergency funds to purchase and distribute unproven drugs against Covid-19, even after they had been shown to be ineffective, he also refused many offers of vaccine doses. In August, Pfizer offered Brazil 70 million doses, with delivery starting in December — but the government was not interested. The company made two other proposals, to no avail.

When pressed for an explanation, Brazil’s Health Ministry claimed that the terms of the contract — the same that applied to all countries — were “abusive.” Pfizer, Mr. Bolsonaro complained, wouldn’t take responsibility “if you turn into Superman, if a woman grows a beard or a man starts to talk with a high-pitched voice.” Instead, he kept up his efforts to discredit vaccination, promoting an imaginary “early treatment” for Covid-19.

Mr. Bolsonaro even found time to oppose a proposal, brought to the World Health Organization by India and South Africa, to temporarily lift patent restrictions on coronavirus vaccines. Allowing developing countries — including Brazil — to manufacture vaccines sooner and at much greater scale apparently held no interest.

Eventually the federal government, under public pressure, started to plan a vaccination program. But it focused on a single manufacturer, AstraZeneca, whose vaccine trials ended up taking longer than others. Other difficulties surfaced later. After the approval of the vaccine in January, there was a shipment delay. And the flight bearing two million doses from India was postponed for a week.

Mr. Bolsonaro also spent months attacking the other vaccine now available in Brazil — CoronaVac, developed by the Chinese company Sinovac — because it had been backed by São Paulo’s governor, a political rival and likely competitor in the 2022 presidential race. (Mr. Bolsonaro even celebrated the death of a participant in the CoronaVac trial, later deemed to be unrelated to the vaccine.)

When the AstraZeneca vaccine failed to materialize quickly, Mr. Bolsonaro had to turn to the supply of the CoronaVac that São Paulo’s governor had managed to amass. There were no words of thanks.

Brazil is now gradually expanding local production, while more doses are on their way from India and the Covax Facility, a global vaccine distribution program. But everything is happening in slow motion. Two million doses now, four million a month later.

The shortage of vaccines at least conceals the fact that the government probably hadn’t secured enough syringes to administer them. Truly, it’s little wonder that the government’s handling of the pandemic was judged by the Lowy Institute, a research institute in Australia, to be the worst in the world.

Mr. Bolsonaro, through ineptitude and malice, has squandered the country’s resources to ruinous effect. Joe Droplet was right to ignore him. If only the rest of us could, too.

Brazil has around 5500 municipalities.

Experts warn Brazil facing darkest days of Covid crisis as deaths hit highest level

Health experts and lawmakers have warned Brazil is steaming into the darkest days of its coronavirus catastrophe, as fatalities soared to new heights and one prominent politician compared the crisis to an atomic bomb.

Politicians from across the spectrum voiced anger and exasperation at the deteriorating situation on Monday, after Brazil’s weekly average of Covid deaths hit its highest level since the epidemic began last February and hospitals around the country reported being swamped.

According to the newspaper O Globo, intensive care units in 17 of Brazil’s 26 states were near capacity, while six states and the capital Brasília had run out of intensive care beds altogether.

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Brazil: Lula has convictions quashed, leaving him free to challenge Bolsonaro

Brazil’s former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva could be set for a sensational comeback attempt after a supreme court judge annulled a series of criminal convictions against the leftist icon and restored his political rights.



Exclusive: Bolsonaro is turning back the clock on Brazil, says Lula
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The ruling, which analysts called a political bombshell, means Lula is almost certain to challenge Brazil’s incumbent president, Jair Bolsonaro, in the 2022 presidential election.

“The election starts today … It’s virtually impossible Lula won’t be a candidate,” said Thomas Traumann, a Rio de Janeiro-based political observer. “In American terms, it’s going to be like Sanders versus Trump.”

The Valor Econômico, Brazil’s leading financial newspaper, declared: “Lula is back in the game.”

Lula was president of Latin America’s largest economy for two terms, between 2003 and 2011, and oversaw a historic period of commodity-fuelled growth and poverty reduction. The Workers’ party (PT) politician, who is now 75, had hoped to seek a third term in 2018 but was sidelined after being jailed on disputed corruption charges, paving the way for Bolsonaro’s landslide victory.

Speaking to the Guardian last April, the former shoeshine boy played down speculation he would challenge Bolsonaro in 2022 but accused the far-right former army captain of leading Brazilians “to the slaughterhouse” with his “grotesque” and “reckless” response to the coronavirus pandemic.

“You can be certain the left will be governing Brazil again after 2022,” Lula claimed. “We will vote for someone who is committed to human rights and respects them, who respects environmental protection, who respects the Amazon … who respects blacks and the indigenous. We’re going to elect someone who is committed to the poor of this country.”

Traumann said Monday’s ruling was an unmistakable turning point and potentially positive for those who wanted to see the back of Bolsonaro, under whose highly controversial watch more than 265,000 Brazilians have lost their lives to Covid-19. “If you are absolutely opposed to Bolsonaro, this is good news – because you have a candidate who is undeniably strong, popular and who can defeat Bolsonaro.”

He added: “The problem is that there is a pretty reasonable number of people who don’t want either of them [as president] – and if these people don’t get together and come up with a [third] candidate now, there will be no room for them. If the other candidates don’t decide to run now, by the time we get to next year things will be so polarised that there will be no room for a third candidate.”

Some believe Bolsonaro will also relish a potential election fight with the bearded former union leader who is a bogeyman for many conservative voters.

Lula supporters expressed joy at the decision on social media, with some using the hashtag #LulaPresidente2022. One PT ally tweeted a video of the septuagenarian politician pumping iron in the gym to the sound of a song by the Brazilian composer Chico Buarque called Tô Voltando (“I’m coming back”). “Fill the house with flowers because I’m on my way back,” its lyrics announce. Argentina’s leftist president Alberto Fernández also celebrated what he called the failure of efforts to destroy Lula’s political career ruling, tweeting: “Justice has been done!”

Meanwhile, there were signs of political heartburn from several personalities who have been trying to position themselves as supposedly centrist alternatives to Bolsonaro’s radical administration. Bolsonaro’s estranged former health minister, Luiz Henrique Mandetta, who is reportedly plotting a presidential run, tweeted: “The extremes rejoice because they feed off each other.”

Luciano Huck, one of Brazil’s best-known TV presenters and another potential contender, tweeted: “One thing’s for sure: you can’t complete a sticker album with doubles.”

The Scammer Who Wanted to Save His Country

ONE SLEEPY SUNDAY morning in May 2019, Glenn Greenwald was sitting in his home office in Rio de Janeiro when he received a phone call from a number he didn’t recognize. He didn’t answer. But 30 seconds later a WhatsApp message arrived from Manuela d’Ávila, a Brazilian leftist politician who had run for vice president the previous year alongside the center-left Workers’ Party’s candidate for president; their ticket had come in second to the far-right former military captain Jair Bolsonaro. “Glenn,” she wrote, “I need to speak to you about something urgent.”

WALTER DELGATTI NETO grew up in Araraquara, a four-hour drive inland from São Paulo. A small city of 200,000 people—about the same size as Boise, Idaho—Araraquara is a pleasant if unremarkable settlement of low-rise, flat-roofed buildings amid a smattering of incongruous tower blocks, surrounded by an expanse of green fields

AS IT HAPPENED, Greenwald already had a somewhat complicated history with Operation Car Wash. From the very beginning, there had been critics who believed that the anti-corruption task force was colluding with Moro to target the Workers’ Party and Lula. (Their suspicions had been aroused back in 2016, when then-judge Moro leaked secret wiretaps of a breathless, affectionate conversation between then-president Dilma Rousseff and Lula, which seemed to suggest the two were coordinating to shield Lula from prosecution.) But Greenwald wasn’t among those critics. He says that he never felt “super antagonistic” toward the Car Wash task force. In fact, in a speech at a 2017 award ceremony for anti-corruption work in Vancouver, Greenwald had spoken positively about the Car Wash team. “I made a lot of people angry on the left in Brazil by defending them,” Greenwald says. “I kind of went out on a limb for them.”

But now, after the Mother’s Day phone call from d’Ávila, as he began to dig into the avalanche of documents that slowly uploaded to his new Telegram account, Greenwald was astonished. “I actually kind of felt betrayed,” he says. The collusion between Moro and federal prosecutors against Lula and the Workers’ Party, Greenwald learned, went deeper than even their fiercest critics had imagined.

The whole story is pretty long, so I won’t post here. But in summary, it’s like a Brazilian mix of Jesse Pinkman and Walter White had hacker tendencies and decided to hack and leak the higher echelon of the Brazilian politics to Glenn Greenwald and ended up freeing ex-president Lula from trumped up charges

Edit: It turns out he actually did have a lot more than the Intercept showed.

Lula excoriates Bolsonaro’s ‘moronic’ Covid response in comeback speech

Great speech today from Lula, one of the best I’ve seen. I’ll try to find some excerpts with English subtitles, the whole thing is two and half hours long.

Edit: here is one:

Not my favorite part, but a good one.