Indigenous Groups in Brazil Rise in Opposition to Jair Bolsonaro

Source: Internationalist 360°

https://peoplesdispatch.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/EleNao-Brazil.pngIllustration by @nana/ Twitter

  • A number of indigenous candidates from various political groups from the Amazon region called for the creation of an Indigenous Parliamentary Front

Ahead of the first round of the elections in Brazil on October 7, indigenous communities openly declared their opposition to the right-wing candidate, Jair Bolsonaro. A number of indigenous candidates from various political groups from the Amazon region called for the creation of an Indigenous Parliamentary Front to resist the possibility of the formation of a right-wing government under Bolsonaro. Bolsonaro’s racist remarks and stances have been a major reason for such a development.

Bolsonaro, the candidate of the Social Liberal Party (PSL), had earlier said that he would not give an inch to indigenous reservations. He also regards the current area under reservations for indigenous nationalities to be too high and has vowed to scrap it. According to certain reports, Bolsonaro has been endorsed by big business ventures which want to scrap sovereign land rights given to indigenous communities over 118 million hectares, especially in the Amazon region. These rights prevent such capitalists from exploiting the resources in these areas. The agribusiness lobby (large landowners, cattle ranchers and producers of grains for export markets) too is targeting the indigenous land demarcated by the 1988 constitution for the expansion of their industries. The 2010 census in Brazil shows that there were 896,917 indigenous people in Brazil (0.47% of the population of 190.7 million in 2010) and they occupy around 13% of the national territory, which the powerful agribusiness lobby is eager to exploit.

Bolsonaro’s vice-presidential candidate, Antonio Hamilton Mourao, a retired army general, has also evoked protests with his racist remarks against indigenous communities. These comments by the candidates come at a time when violent attacks against indigenous activists are high in the Amazon region. This has been among the factors that have prompted members of the indigenous communities to propose a clear political line against Bolsonaro.

Challenges facing the Latin American left

Calls for Lula’s freedom are being heard across Latin America. Photo: Ntn24.com

Forces on the left are mobilizing in Latin America and the Caribbean to confront the right wing offensive which, encouraged and financed by the United States, is underway in the region, with the use of strategies meant to foment political destabilization and discredit progressive governments in power and former elected leaders.
Political leaders, intellectuals, and representatives of social movements are evaluating the unfavorable correlation of forces developing over the last few years, and charting action plans, taking the victory of progressive candidate

Andrés Manuel López Obrador, in Mexico, as a positive sign.
“The storm arrived and shut the window opened at the end of the 90s… The question now posed, for the Brazilian left especially, is how to open the window again,” recently wrote Valter Pomar, a member of Brazil’s Workers’ Party and a professor of International Affairs at the Federal University, in his essay on how to move forward.

In his opinion, the left needs strong candidates to challenge the right in elections, but this is not enough since the strategic “utility” of legislators and government leaders rises and falls in accordance with political perspectives and the level of organization outside of the institutional environment, implying the need for a change in methods on the left, and a recovery of spaces lost alongside the working class.

In Latin America, “The challenge for this possible left is that of building alternatives to capitalism in the economic field, where the current plan is the Uber-ization of the economy; total deregulation – except when the state is needed to dismantle a progressive gain; but above all, build alternatives in the cultural field, challenge capitalist hegemony in the cultural (and media) environment to construct a people, not consumer citizens deluded with false middle class hopes,” writes political analyst Katu Arkonada on the teleSUR blog.

Likewise, essayist, journalist, sociologist, university professor, and political analyst Olmedo Beluche, wrote in Rebelión: “Without nationalization of the national banking and financial system, without state control of foreign trade; and without the nationalization of large industries, that is, without truly socialist measures, Latin American governments in general are at the mercy of the bourgeoisie, of imperialism, and economic sabotage, as the case of Venezuela has repeatedly shown.”

This contradiction, he argues, explains the limitations of the left and the difficulty it faces in responding to the offensive being mounted by national right wing forces supported by U.S. imperialism, plus the reformist attitude of leaders who docilely accept the formalities of bourgeois institutions.

The majority of analysts agree that the progressive cycle on the continent is in crisis, but not coming to an end. Although some popular governments were removed from office via elections (Argentina) or through semi-legal or judicial maneuvers (Brazil), the progressive era’s hard core of change has not collapsed: Bolivia and Venezuela, accompanied by Nicaragua and the Cuban Revolution.

“The two projects, along with Nicaragua and Cuba, which propose going beyond capitalist relations in the long run, are on their feet, indicating that the strategic battle of our time is defending these processes,” as was made clear during the 24th annual meeting of the São Paulo Forum, held in Havana this past July.

At this gathering of the region’s political forces, proposals were made for sustained action based on the idea that government positions won by the left must reinforce their legitimate hegemony and build popular power. Peoples with political consciousness are always the best antidote to the return of the right in the Americas.

STRATEGIES FROM THE LEFT

– Systematically and creatively disseminate the economic, social, and political gains of popular governments that, for one reason or another, have suffered reverses, as well as those which have endured.
– Strengthen a constructive, serene debate on the historic, political, and ideological limitations of each process.
– Seek more efficient mechanisms for organization, consciousness building, and political participation of the social base committed to post-neoliberal change.

– Renovate relations between government political parties and popular movements with nationalist and patriotic positions, taking a favorable position on the need for a state that assures democratic functioning in the construction of consensus.
– Build consensus among segments of society that share, or could share, demands, interests, and revolutionary or progressive change.

– Strengthen the cause of Puerto Rican independence, as a symbol of the anti-colonial struggle to be defended.
– Build active participation of the people and national majorities in the political process of each country.

– Provide decisive support and encourage liberation efforts and anti-capitalist ideas within social movements.

– Promote efforts to advance the integration of what Martí called Our America.
– Support, in all international spaces available, any action taken to reduce the level of domination and hegemony of the United States in our countries, as essential and possible.

How is a pretext for a cold war manufactured?

Source:  Granma
September 6 2018

Author: 

A pretext is all that is needed to start a conflict, something with which the United States has experience, from the Spanish-American War, to Vietnam, Iraq… but its latest efforts to vilify Cuba are unique

a pretext for war.jpgPhoto: Ishmael Francisco

A pretext is all that is needed to start a conflict, something with which the United States has experience, from the Spanish-American War, to Vietnam, Iraq… but its latest efforts to vilify Cuba are unique.
Last year, the U.S. asserted that its diplomatic personnel in Cuba had been affected by “sonic attacks,” an accusation that has been developed in the media in an attempt to justify launching a Cold War.
A timeline of events illustrates the current administration’s efforts to undermine the reestablishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries.

2017
February
On the 17th the State Department and the U.S. embassy in Havana report, for the first time, to Cuba’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and diplomatic in Washington, the occurrence of alleged acoustic attacks between November 2016 and February 2017.
April and May
On April 25, two new alleged sonic attacks are reported.
On May 23, the State Department orders two Cuban diplomats in Washington to leave the country.
June and August
Three meetings between U.S. experts and their Cuban counterparts take place on the Island. The U.S. acknowledges that it has no evidence to support its allegations.
September
The Cuban Foreign Minister informs the U.S. Secretary of State that Cuba rigorously fulfills its obligations with the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations of 1961. The withdrawal of 60% of U.S. diplomatic personnel in Havana is announced, and the State Department recommends that U.S. citizens not travel to Cuba, absurdly citing the risk of sonic attacks.
October
Heather Nauert, State Department spokesperson, states that the number of affected individuals has reached 24. On October 3, the expulsion of 15 Cuban diplomats from Washington is announced, which Cuba denounces as “unjustified” and “unacceptable”.
2018
January
The AP news agency reports that the FBI has found no evidence of the alleged “attacks” after investigations and several trips to Havana. On January 9 a hearing is held in the Western Hemisphere Subcommittee of the Senate’s Committee on Foreign Relations, organized by Marco Rubio, to impose the accusation, despite the lack of any evidence whatsoever.
February
On February 14, a controversial article is published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), under the title “Neurological symptoms among U.S. diplomats in Cuba.”
An attempt is made to use the text as the scientific confirmation of the Washington hypothesis. However, the authors Christopher C. Muth and Steven L. Lewis affirm that “a unifying explanation of the symptoms experienced by the officials (…) remains vague and the effect of a possible exposure to auditory phenomena is not clear”.
April
The Canadian government reports the recall of diplomats’ families in Havana, since 10 of its employees have reported symptoms. Cuba respects the decision, while describing it as unjustified.
May
On May 29, the U.S. Embassy in Havana reports that on the 27th a new victim was reported. No interviews with the individual are allowed. The United States issues an advisory to its citizens living in China, warning them to seek medical help for symptoms such as those noted in Cuba.
June
On June 5, the U.S. Secretary of State reports the creation of a Joint Task Force to respond to what are described as “unexplained health incidents” affecting personnel stationed abroad, specifically in Cuba and the People’s Republic of China. Cuba reiterates that there is no evidence to support such a statement.
August
Neurologists and doctors from several countries question the conclusions of the report made by doctors from the University of Pennsylvania supporting the U.S. government’s version of events. The U.S. announces further reductions of its personnel and services in Havana.
September
On the 1st, The New York Times cites the University of Pennsylvania report, and on the 3rd, the Cuban Foreign Ministry reiterates that U.S. arguments continue to lose credibility over time.

Fidel: Why there a single party in Cuba

Source:  Granma
August 17 2018

Excerpt from speech by Comandante en Jefe Fidel Castro Ruz closing the National Assembly of People’s Power Third Legislature’s 10th period of ordinary sessions

a single party in cuba.jpgThe closing event of the second congress of the Cuban Communist Party.  Photo:  Archive

Multiparty systems are imperialism’s great tool to keep societies fragmented, divided in a thousand pieces; making societies incapable of solving problems and defending their interests.

A country divided in ten pieces is the perfect country to dominate, to subjugate, because the nation is without will, since the will of the nation is divided in many fragments; the strength of the nation is divided in many fragments; all intelligence is divided; and what it has is a constant, interminable battle among parts of the society.

A Third World country cannot afford this luxury. Actually many do give themselves this luxury, clearly for quite a while they have, and for quite a while a large part have been subjugated and dominated.

Clearly, for a society that must confront the problems of underdevelopment and develop under the difficult conditions for development existent in today’s world, unity is essential…

… Thus I have the most profound conviction that the existence of one party is, and must be, for a long historical period – no one can predict how long – the form of political organization of our society

Encounter with Lula in prison: spirituality and politics

Source:  Cube Network in Defense of Humanity / alainet

by Leonardo Boff
May 23 2018

lula speaks from prison.jpgAs of May 7th, former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva had spent 30 days in prison. For the first time, he was allowed to receive visits from his friends. I had the honor of being the first to visit him, due to our friendship of more than 30 years, and that we share the same Causa: Liberating the impoverished, and reinforcing life’s spiritual dimension. I fulfilled the evangelical precept: “I was in jail and you visited me”.
Filled with energy

I found him as we knew him before he was imprisoned: the same face, hair, beard… only somewhat more slender. Those who hoped to see him angry or depressed must be disappointed. He is filled with energy and hope. His cell is large, very clean, with built-in-cupboards, and a bathroom and shower in an enclosed space. The first impression is good, even though he lives in isolation because, other than his lawyers and children, he can only talk with the guard, who is of Ukrainian origin, gentle and attentive, who has become his admirer. He brings Lula his food tray, more warm or cool, and coffee whenever he requests it. Lula does not accept the food his children bring him, because he wants to eat as the other prisoners do, without any privileges. He has his time to take in the sun. But lately, when he does that, drones appear overhead. As a precaution Lula leaves, because the purpose of those drones is unknown: to take photos of him, or perhaps something more sinister.

Spirituality

Among our discussions of politics, the most important was our conversation on spirituality… Lula is a religious man, but of the popular religiosity, for which God is existential evidence. I found him reading one of my books, The Lord is my Shepherd, (from editorial Voces) a commentary on the famous Psalm 23, the most read of the Psalms, which is also read by other religions. He felt fortified and confirmed, because the Bible is generally critical of pastor/politicians, and praises those who care for the poor, the orphans and the widows. Lula feels that he belongs in that line, with his social policies that benefited so many millions. He does not accept criticism as being a “populist.” Lula says: “I belong to the people, I come from the people and direct my policies, as much as I can, towards the people”.

At the head of his bed there is a crucifix. He uses the time of solitary confinement to reflect, meditate, to review so many things in his life, and to deepen the fundamental convictions that give meaning to his political actions, all that his mother, Lindu (whom he considers his protector and inspiring angel), often repeated to him: always be honest, and struggle and struggle more. Lula sees in that the meaning of his personal and political life: a struggle that everyone may have a dignified life, and not just a few at the expense of the others. “The greatness of a politician is measured by the greatness of his Causa”, he emphatically told me. And the Causa must be to make a life for everyone, starting with those who have the least. For that reason, Lula does not accept definitive defeat. Nor does he want to fall on his face. He does not want to fail, but to remain always faithful to his basic purpose, and to make of politics a great tool for organizing a life of justice and peace for all, especially for those who live in the hell of hunger and misery.
I am a candidate

This dream has an undeniable ethical and spiritual greatness. It is in the light of these convictions that Lula maintains his tranquility, because he says and reiterates that he lives for that interior truth, one that possesses its own strength, that one day will become evident. “I only hoped”, he commented, “for it to happen after my death, but it is already happening, even now, while I am alive”. He becomes profoundly indignant at the lies spread about him, based on which they have mounted the triplex procedure. He wonders: “How can these persons consciously lie and sleep in peace?” He challenges Judge Sergio Moro: “show me a single shred of evidence that I own the triplex of Guaruja; If you show me one, I will renounce my candidacy to the Presidency”.

He asked me to pass a message on to the press and the people in the encampment: “I am a candidate. I want to carry on with rescuing the poor, and to create social policies in their favor, State policies, and that the costs –that are investments– are in the budgets of the Union. I will radicalize these policies for the poor, with the poor, and to dignify our country”.

Meditation has made him understand that prison has a meaning that transcends him, me, and the political disputes. It must be the same price that Gandhi and Mandela paid, with prison and persecution, to reach what they accomplished. “This I believe, and hope”, he told me, “that this is what I am going through now”.

I who came to encourage him, left encouraged. I hope that others are also encouraged. and shout “Free Lula!”, against a Justice that does not manifest justice.

Nicaragua regains its balance

Source:  Cuba Network in Defense of Humanity

May 2018

by Tortilla con Sal

daniel ortega May 2018Recent disturbances in Nicaragua have served as a kind of who-is-who separating anti-imperialists from cynical phonies both inside and outside the country. The tsunami of disinformation has swamped both the usual suspect mainstream corporate media outlets and their alternative accomplices but also other news sites that are generally anti-imperialist on issues like Syria or Palestine, Russia or Iran.

Like Venezuela, Nicaragua is in the cross hairs of the Western elites and their governments because the country’s Sandinista President Daniel Ortega and his team have successfully implemented socialist inspired policies while also defending the principles of a multi-polar world based on international law.

What happened

The events in Nicaragua resulted from years of frustration and resentment among the country’s political opposition that they cannot win elections. Since 2011, in elections ratified by observers from US government dominated Organization of American States and from the European Union, Nicaragua’s political opposition parties have struggled to win more than around 30% electoral support. In 2016, President Daniel Ortega was re-elected with around 70% of the vote.

In recent months, national and international opinion polls have indicated levels of support for President Ortega at well over 60%, making claims of mass rejection of his government look ridiculous.

The apparent trigger for the sudden explosion of violence between April 18th and April 22nd across the country was the April 16th announcement of reforms to the country’s social security system. Two aspects of that announcement played into the hands of the country’s extremist minority opposition. Firstly, the government mistakenly thought they could announce the reforms due for implementation in July and explain them in detail later to the public. Secondly, the reforms were announced during a university election period with students actively debating and mobilizing around issues of concern to them. That opened the way for the political opposition to mount a vigorous disinformation campaign via social media cynically fooling large numbers of students into public protests by misrepresenting the government’s pro-worker, pro-pensioner proposals while omitting the private business sector’s plan to slash benefits, restrict coverage and privatize public sector clinics.

On Wednesday April 18th, rival groups of students clashed violently in Managua and then student protesters against the government fought with police trying to restore order. The government condemned the protests, which inflamed the demonstrating students, many of whom have supported the Sandinista government’s very successful social and economic programs. Then from April 19th onward, extremist opposition activists hijacked the student protests, attacking hospitals, government and municipal authority offices, public buildings of all kinds, university precincts and even the country’s brand new national baseball stadium. Among many similar incidents, in the small southern town of Diriamba, hundreds of opposition activists attacked and seriously damaged the municipal offices which were defended by just 12 police officers.

Similar attacks occurred in other cities, including Managua and the northern town of Estelí where municipal workers occupied their offices to defend them against possible attacks by extremist opposition activists. Estelí’s municipal offices were attacked on the night of Friday April 20th by over 500 people, most of whom were not from Estelí but including both local students and a number of opportunist delinquents. With police trying to keep order, the attackers fired over 1000 mortar rounds and threw around 17 molotov cocktails trying to destroy the municipal offices and other targets nearby. 18 police and 16 municipal workers were wounded. Among the protesters, two young students were shot dead and numerous people injured. The fighting lasted for five hours, covering an area of around 16 blocks with the attackers using firearms and knives. While the opposition media blame the police for the deaths, local reporters insist it is impossible assign blame in such confused events without a detailed investigation.

Sequels

Nationally, most estimates reckon around 20 people were killed in the violence. Among the dead were two police officers and a Sandinista journalist, while other fatalities include Sandinista and opposition activists as well as bystanders caught up in the violence. The pattern of the attacks suggests a well formulated plan with preparations already in place before the protests started. For example, outside Managua there was no violence reported in important towns like Matagalpa, Jinotega and Ocotal. By focusing on Masaya, León and Estelí, the opposition extremists tried to create false symmetry between their violent offensive and the centers of insurrection against the Somoza dictatorship in 1979.

Obvious questions are who may have funded the very widespread attacks and how they were able to have ready for instant use a quantity of weapons produced on a semi-industrial scale. Overall the attackers fired many thousands of mortar rounds each one costing over US$3. The cost of transport to move hundreds of militants between Managua, Leon and Chinandega, Estelí, and towns around Granada also runs into many thousands of dollars. In Managua, impoverished young delinquents were being paid US$10 to US$15 per day to participate in the attacks. Clearly, the opposition extremists who hijacked the student protests for their own ends were very well organized, funded and prepared before the protests even began.

From Sunday April 22nd onward, numerous sectors, including religious and business sectors, reacted against the violence increasingly calling for it to stop. In Managua, thousands of ordinary people mobilized extensively to defend their neighborhoods from marauding looters. That day, President Ortega announced the withdrawal of the proposed Social Security reforms and the start of an inclusive national dialogue. In towns outside Managua, life abruptly returned to something like normal as if someone had thrown a switch. On Monday, funerals for the dead, as well as protest marches in Managua and elsewhere, went off peacefully. Despite inflated opposition claims, independent media like El Nuevo Diario reported numbers similar to other big opposition demonstrations of recent years.

National Dialogue

Scheduled to start over the weekend of April 28th-29th, the national dialogue is planned to include all sectors of Nicaraguan society and will be mediated by the Catholic Church led by Cardinal Leopoldo Brenes. The government and the country’s other authorities are supporting the dialogue by means of a public investigation into the deaths, injuries and damage to property by the country’s Public Prosecution service. The official Legal Office for the Defense of Human Rights is establishing a nationwide Committee of Victims for Punishment and Reparations to support people affected by the disturbances. The country’s legislature, the National Assembly, has established a Truth Commission to give a hearing to conflicting accounts of the disturbances.

Together with the national dialogue process, these initiatives will help inform people inside and outside Nicaragua of what really happened during the violent incidents that began last April 18th. many people in Nicaragua think what will emerge will radically contradict the sinister fictions and false beliefs massively propagated by opposition social media and Western corporate media and NGOs. As the facts emerge, the extremist opposition minority and their agenda promoting US intervention will probably find even more widespread abhorrence and rejection than exists already of what they have done to damage Nicaragua’s hard won social peace and economic well-being.

Brazil: Media Trying to Whitewash and Exploit Marielle Franco’s Political Radicalism

Source:  The Intercept

by Glenn Greenwald

marielle franco 3.jpgVereadora Marielle Franco was the fifth most voted of the last elections and
was based in the favela of Maré

ON SUNDAY NIGHT, Brazil’s most powerful television outlet, Rede Globo, devoted 45 minutes of its highly watched “Fantastico” program to the assassination of Rio City Council Member Marielle Franco and the killing of her driver, Anderson Gomes. This story has dominated headlines in Brazil for a full week, and, as protests proliferate around the country, it continues to be covered as a major story by news outlets around the world.

This was not a case in which Globo has elevated a story to major prominence. This was the opposite: Globo trying to take hold of a story that has exploded through citizen-driven online activism and anger without any need for bolstering from major media outlets.

Major media relegated to bystander

For once, Brazil’s major media has been a bystander in this story, not its driver. Globo could see that the reaction to Marielle’s killing was growing, getting stronger, moving in directions that make many Brazilian elites extremely uncomfortable. Last night’s “Fantastico” coverage was Globo’s attempt to get this story under control — under its control.

There were parts of “Fantastico’s” reporting that were genuinely informative and journalistically excellent — particularly Sonia Bridi’s detailed, evidence-based exposition of how this horrific crime was carried out with such chilling professionalism and competence, convincingly showing that whoever engineered the murders knew exactly how police would investigate and exactly how to prevent detection.

That terrorizing fact is an important piece of the puzzle when understanding who ordered Marielle to be killed; whoever killed the activist who devoted herself to denouncing police abuses is intimately familiar with how the police function.

Other parts were genuinely moving and beautifully presented, particularly the interviews with Marielle’s devastated widow Mônica, and, separately, with Marielle’s 19-year-old daughter, her parents, and her sister. The prominent inclusion of Anderson’s life and death, and the delicately handled and wrenching interview with his grieving widow, was commendable given the temptation to forget about the death of Marielle’s driver.

Marielle’s remarkable life trajectory

The show also did justice to how remarkable and inspiring was the trajectory of Marielle’s life: from poverty, deprivation, and single motherhood at 19 as a black woman in a favela to a master’s degree in sociology, human rights activism, and political empowerment through massive voter support in her 2016 election to the City Council.

marielle franco's widow.jpg“Fantastico” interview with Marielle’s widow, Mônica.   YouTube/Fantastico

This was not an insignificant media moment in Brazil. A black, leftist lesbian from the sprawling Maré favela, and from the socialist PSOL party, was honored and glorified on one of Globo’s most important media platforms, while millions of ordinary Brazilians around the country, far away from Rio and São Paulo, watched. They prominently featured, rather than hid, Marielle’s wife.

The perspectives of prominent leftist politicians and activists were respectfully included. And they condemned and vilified the right-wing politicians and judges who have used the internet to spread disgusting lies about Marielle designed to malign her with toxic stereotypes of black women from favelas (she was pregnant at 16, married to a notorious drug dealer, supported in her election by a drug gang: all demonstrable lies). All of that is worth celebrating.

A political person

BUT MARIELLE WAS, first and foremost, a political person: a radical in the best and most noble sense of that word. It’s her radicalism that made her such an inspiration to so many ordinary and voiceless citizens, and a threat to so many powerful and corrupt factions. Her political activism, her political beliefs, were Marielle’s core, a major part of her identity, the centerpiece of what made her a figure of such singular force and power.

The crime that ended her life was also purely political. There is no way to meaningfully understand Marielle’s life and assassination without a candid, clear, and honest discussion of her politics. What makes her story such big news is her politics, which in turn produced the political motives that caused powerful people to want her dead.

These are the most difficult, most complicated, and most important subjects to cover when reporting on Marielle’s life and death: her relentless and brave activism against the most lawless police battalions, her opposition to military intervention, and, most threateningly of all, her growing power as a black, gay woman from the favela seeking not to join Brazil’s power structure, but to subvert it.

What “Fantastico” avoided almost entirely

It’s not a coincidence that the last event she attended, the one where she was followed and then killed upon leaving, was titled, “Young Black Women Changing Power Structures.”

And it was these subjects that “Fantastico” avoided almost entirely — except when they brazenly manipulated them for its own purposes. The only segment purporting to describe Marielle’s politics was an extremely banal, condescending discussion of the definition of “human rights,” which “Fantastico” basically reduced to an anodyne, uncontroversial declaration that all humans are born free and should be treated equally: propositions that virtually every Brazilian politician from right to left would happily endorse. They drained Marielle’s politics of its vibrancy, radicalism, and force, and converted it into a simplistic comic book of empty clichés that nobody would find objectionable.

Extinguishing Marielle’s real political sensibilities were necessary to achieve Globo’s real objectives here. The emotions from Marielle’s brutal assassination are overwhelming and powerful. The question is, to what ends will those emotions be directed? What outcomes will they foster? What views and movements will they strengthen?

Ultimately, what “Fantastico” was really up to here became extremely clear by the end of its coverage. They took the still-expanding power of Marielle’s story and tried to reduce its power — limit it — to a simple, apolitical human interest story, something that made you cry and feel sad and empathetic and maybe angry, but not in any way that would make you embrace Marielle’s causes or crusades for justice or devote yourself to the political agenda she symbolized.

Awakening  traditionally powerless people

Globo and its comrades in elite culture see a serious danger in the aftermath of Marielle’s killing, for good reason. They see that it is awakening — emboldening — traditionally powerless people to the cruelties of extreme societal inequality and the intolerable racist criminality of its police forces.

It is galvanizing favela residents to organize and mobilize. It is pointing an accusatory finger not at drug traffickers and ordinary criminals — the favored Globo narrative — but at the very forces used by the country’s elite to impose its will and secure its privileges: its military, its police, and its traditionally white, male, rich political system.

It was those factions and those policies which Marielle had devoted her life to fighting — not just in defense of the pleasing, unchallenging, clichéd notions of “human rights” that “Fantastico” centered. Those who feel threatened by Marielle’s activism and political principles see that her death is strengthening those things — and desperately want to re-direct these powerful emotions away from what she believed and inspired, toward something less disruptive, less threatening to status quo power.

That’s why “Fantastico” went heavy on the powerful human emotions of this story — the grieving, weeping relatives, the killing of a hardworking father who supported his baby by working as a driver, the anger we all feel when human life is violently extinguished, the mournful music that made us feel tearful — and ignored the scarier political aspects of Marielle’s life.

Globo knows it can’t stop or limit the powerful emotions, so it wants to render them apolitical and thus, harmless. It wants all of this sadness and indignation to fall into a black hole of political irrelevance, like one of the TV network’s emotion-heavy soap operas, in which Marielle’s killing has no meaning beyond just making people angrier still about the violence plaguing Brazil.

Trying to exploit Marielle to reinforce support for a policy that Marielle despised

But far worse than the suppression of Marielle’s political beliefs was “Fantastico’s” one attempt to politicize her death — by trying to exploit Marielle to reinforce support for a policy that Marielle despised: Michel Temer’s recent military “intervention” in Rio de Janeiro, the first time since the end of Brazil’s military dictatorship in 1985 that the military is occupying a major city.

After 45 minutes of building emotional sadness and anger over Marielle’s death, “Fantastico” tried to channel that into manipulating, exploiting, and subverting Marielle’s political causes. Immediately following the segments about Marielle, “Fantastico” devoted one segment to the horrific killing of a child last week in a Rio slum, the Complexo do Alemão, and then immediately went live to one of its reporters in Brasília, describing how Temer was meeting that very moment with ministers to consider more funding for the military invention.

marielle franco 4 fist saluteWomen raise their hands in protest of the death of Marielle in Rio de Janeiro on March 15, 2018.  Photo: Ian Cheibub/AGIF/AP

And it was at that moment “Fantastico’s” odious, menacing agenda became crystal clear. It wasn’t just to stomp out the possibility that Marielle’s killing would galvanize support for her life’s political project. It was far worse: to try to ensure that Marielle’s death could be exploited to strengthen everything she fought to subvert. The message from “Fantastico” was as obvious as it was odious: Now that we just spent all this time making you so sad and angry about Marielle’s brutal assassination, you must see why Temer’s military intervention is so justified.

PSOL officials and other left-wing activists instantly recognized the ugly agenda at play and denounced it on social media by pointing out that Marielle vehemently opposed military occupation as a gross waste of resources that would solve nothing and make everything worse, while directly threatening democracy.


Making MLK unthreatening

PERHAPS THE REASON I’m particularly sensitive to this distortion scheme is because I’ve seen exactly this reprehensible media tactic used so effectively in the U.S. During the 1990s, a vicious, ugly debate consumed the U.S. over whether to declare Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday a federal holiday.

And it was easy to understand why this was so controversial. King was a true radical, hated by many. He railed against the evils of capitalism. He urged the most oppressed populations to rise up. He uncompromisingly condemened U.S. imperialism. In a speech given one year before he was killed, devoted to denouncing the U.S. role Vietnam War, he called the U.S. government “the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today,” as well as the leading exponent of “the deadly Western arrogance that has poisoned the international atmosphere for so long.”

So, if you’re an American political or economic elite, and know that you can’t erase the memory of someone with such threatening, disruptive views, what do you do? You erase all the views that you find threatening when allowing him to be celebrated, and convert what he symbolizes into something simplistic, clichéd, and unthreatening. On King’s holiday, his contempt for capitalism and denunciations of U.S. imperialism are rarely mentioned. Few Americans know about them now. He is instead just spoken of as a symbol of elementary, vague conceptions of racial equality that few people outside of malicious fringes openly reject: He has been reduced to his lowest common denominator and the genuinely disruptive parts of his worldview and activism have been deliberately erased from his history.

Marielle opposed military intervention in Rio

And just as “Fantastico” tried last night to exploit Marielle’s memory into support for a policy she had spent the last month of her life opposing — military intervention in Rio — the U.S. government now exploits the pleasant memory of MLK into support for militarism and imperialism, something he hated with all of his being. The U.S. military actually uses King’s name and image in its propaganda, as if the mere fact that its killing force is now racially integrated would make King proud and supportive of U.S. violence and its various killing machines:

This is what many in Brazilian media and political elites are now trying to do with Marielle. They know she will not be forgotten, and that the anger and disgust at her brutal assassination is not going away. So the project is now underway to drain her of her radicalism and disruptive energy and instead, convert her into a generic and pleasant symbol, so that they can exploit her for their own ends, including to generate support for status quo-perpetuating policies that she loathed.

Last night’s “Fantastico” episode was the first step in that project. It’s the responsibility of those who believe in Marielle’s vision and activism — not just in Brazil, but around the world — not to allow this gross revisionism and exploitation to succeed.