Bolsonaro's gov, Corova virus, and political crisis


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Nov 16, 2011
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Brazil Rallies Against Bolsonaro as He Faces Court-Ordered Criminal Probe in 'CovaxinGate'
CIA director William Burns’ secret trip to Brasilia raises suspicion that the Biden administration may throw a lifeline to the beleaguered president for its geopolitical moves against China and Venezuela.
Brazil Rallies Against Bolsonaro as He Faces Court-Ordered Criminal Probe in 'CovaxinGate'

As the Covaxin scandal grows, anger is rising against the Brazilian president. Photo: Cuca da UNE

Sao Paulo: A day after a judge of the Supreme Federal Court ordered a criminal investigation against Jair Bolsonaro in the Covaxin scandal, hundreds of thousands of Brazilians took to the streets in 350 cities and towns to protest against the government and demand that the president be impeached.
On Friday evening, Justice Rosa Weber ordered the prosecutor general’s office (PGR) to open an inquiry against Bolsonaro for the alleged crime of “prevarication” (malfeasance) in the case of the contract for 20 million doses of Bharat Biotech’s vaccine in a $300-million deal.
Though the Bolsonaro administration has been swamped with allegations of corruption in the deal, being called ‘CovaxinGate’, the opening of a criminal probe against him takes the seriousness of the case – and the threat to his government – to a higher level. The charge against Bolsonaro is that he was alerted about suspected irregularities in the contract but he did not inform the authorities concerned for action. Under Brazilian law, this is an impeachable offence for elected officials.
As already reported by The Wire, Justice Weber had asked the PGR on Tuesday to open a probe in the case, revealed by a health ministry official Ricardo Miranda and his brother Luis, a federal deputy, in their testimony at the parliamentary commission of inquiry (CPI), but the prosecutor general asked for the senate probe to end before taking a decision. On Friday, the judge declined the request. “Since the allegation is backed by evidence, even if minimal, the criminal hypothesis must be put to the test, by the procedure legally conceived for this purpose,” said Justice Weber in her order.

File photo of Justice Rosa Weber of the Supreme Federal Court of Brazil. (Reuters)

The contract, which is under four different investigations, including two criminal probes, besides being the focus of the senate inquiry, was suspended by the Brazilian government on June 30. The scandal has been growing in size with every passing day, but an inquiry into the president, who is already under suspicion for taking personal interest in the deal for the most expensive vaccine – $ 15 a dose – will keep the country hooked to news in the coming days.

Brazil’s Health Minister Marcelo Queiroga and Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro, at the Planalto Palace in Brasilia, May 11, 2021. Photo: Reuters/Ueslei Marcelino/File Photo

One of the worst countries, along with the US and India, in tackling the pandemic, Brazil has been suffering the impact of the virus since February 2020. Its economy has been in a tailspin, with rising joblessness and hunger. All this while, Bolsonaro has refused to lead the country. On the contrary, he seems to have sabotaged the efforts to control the virus – by talking against mask mandates to promoting chloroquine treatment to delaying the purchase of vaccines. The only vaccine for which the president acted – with great urgency – was Covaxin of Bharat Biotech, which is now the target of a corruption probe and people’s anger.
It has already made people take to the streets to demand Bolsonaro’s impeachment.

Left and Right march together
After huge protests June 19, it was decided by unions and civil society groups to occupy the streets on July 24. But as CovaxinGate, playing 24×7 on television, created waves of anger, the protest was moved forward to Saturday (July 3). Called “3JForaBolsonaro” (3July Get out, Bolsonaro), it turned out to be one of biggest nationwide protests in the middle of the pandemic.
In a sign of how anger against Bolsonaro and the vaccine scandal is driving the country’s politics, the Saturday protest brought together leaders and supporters of parties from different political spectrums. On Avenida Paulista, the main avenue of the country’s financial capital, supporters of left-wing Workers Party (PT) and PSDB, the main right-wing party, jointly raised banners and posters demanding the president to leave office. Historical rivals, the two parties have clashed in the presidential elections for decades, with the leftist party defeating PSDB in four consecutive elections from 2002 to 2014.
Just a few months ago a joint protest by these two parties was unthinkable. “This means that the movement to remove Bolsonaro is growing,” said Gleisi Hoffmann, the national president of the Workers’ Party. “We’ve always been on this path and it’s great to see those who have joined now. We need everyone who wants democracy and get the country out of this crisis,” said Hoffmann, who is also a federal deputy.

In Rio de Janeiro, student unions organised a big rally against Bolsonaro with the slogan that reads “Life, bread, vaccine and education”. Photo: Cuca da UNE

For PSDB, which is a party of mostly middle- and high-income whites who are socially conservative, it was a big step to join rallies PT, workers unions, student organisation and civil society groups. The biggest cheerleader of former president Lula de Silva’s arrest in a corruption case and impeachment of his successor Dilma Rousseff in 2016, PSDB got decimated in the 2018 election as its supporter migrated in hordes to Bolsonaro. With Bolsonaro failing on all fronts, especially the economy and vaccination, a massive chunk of that group has now deserted Bolsonaro, though his far-right base of about 12% to 15% remains loyal to him. According to the Workers Party leader, the right-wing party is now in a correctional mode. “Analysing the mistakes they made and trying to recover the country’s path to democracy is good,” Hoffman said, speaking at the avenue.

Protests in Brazil are generally colourful and noisy. There was something sombre about Saturday protests as if a wave of anger was covered with a layer of sadness. With 5,22,000 Brazilians killed by the virus and new deaths still touching the figure of 2,000 every day, the country seems to be sitting on a tinder. “I voted for Bolsonaro in the last election with the hope that he will control corruption and make our lives better. He is done the exact opposite. We are worse off than before. Everybody has lost someone. Now, we know the pandemic was used by a few to make money through a corrupt deal,” said Alex Gomes, 38, who works as a manager in a software firm. “I never went to a protest in my life. I went today because the country is sinking and this government is responsible for the disaster.”
In cities across the country, people wearing red, black and the national colours of yellow and green carried placards and banners with slogans which had words like “genocide”, “corrupt” and “Get out” written on them along the name of the Brazilian president. For the majority of the population, suffering the pandemic and its effects, Bolsonaro is to be blamed personally. In Brasilia, a group of protesters installed a 10-metre-tall inflatable doll with the face of Bolsonaro, wearing a toothbrush moustache, and blood dripping from its claws; and many across the country carried a placard with the image of $ 1 dollar, with the slogan that read “The value of your life”, a reference to allegations that officials asked for the cut of $1 per dose in the purchase of AstraZeneca vaccine.

Dining with the CIA
In recent days many allegations have been made in other vaccine deals. But the parliamentary committee hearings in the coming week, starting Tuesday, are all set to focus on the Covaxin deal as some of the principal characters in the scandal appear before the senate. With a probe ordered against the president in the Covaxin contract by a supreme court judge, the investigation into the multi-million deal has now assumed a sense of urgency. The prosecutor general’s office has asked for 90 days to investigate the charge against Bolsonaro. After their investigation, the PGR may file a complaint against Bolsonaro with the supreme court. If the complaint is made, the court will need an approval from two-thirds of the Chamber of Deputies to make the president a defendant in the case. He would then be removed from office.
Given his grip over the government at the moment, it is a matter of speculation how this probe will proceed. A lot also depends on the findings of the senate committee, which is going after the Indian deal with full force. A “super petition”, with 120 charges for the impeachment of Bolsonaro, was submitted to the Speaker of chamber this week by a group of parties from the left and right. The Speaker is sitting over the plea. As the protests swell on the streets and the CPI builds pressure, the Speaker may initiate an action he has declined to take so far.
No doubt, Bolsonaro is under siege. But he can’t be written off yet. There is a lot of guessing game – and fear – about how he will react if shoved further into the corner. Having already declared that only “God can remove me from power”, the Brazilian leader is unlikely to quit and walk away. In recent weeks, there have been reports that suggest that the president is mobilising his supporters in the armed forces and military police (heavily-armed units of state police). Bolsonaro has threatened to use the military to keep power a number of times. As the vaccine scandal grows, there is also a growing concern that Bolsonaro may stage something dramatic if he faces impeachment.

In the city of Sao Paulo, the biggest parties of the left and right came together to demand removal of Bolsonaro. Photo: Cuca da UNE

Those fears got amplified this week as it was revealed that the director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), William Burns, made a quiet trip to Brasilia on Thursday. Landing here from Colombia, Burns met Bolsonaro and had dinner with his chief of staff and the cabinet chief of security – both former army generals. The meeting was not confirmed by the government but Bolsonaro told a group of supporters that he met Burns and hinted that their discussion centred around China and Venezuela.
“Some countries depend on us, on what we produce here. And these countries think 50 and 100 years ahead. And here, unfortunately, at best, we think a few weeks or a few days later,” Bolsonaro said, in a clear reference to China and its dependent on commodities from Brazil. “I am not going to say what was discussed with by him [Burns], but we analysed how things are in South America. I don’t want to talk about Venezuela. Look at Argentina. Where is Chile going? What happened in Bolivia? The Evo Morales gang returned to power. And the president who was there during the interim term [Jeanine Anez] is in prison. Are you feeling any similarity with Brazil?” said Bolsonaro in a chat with his supporters which was recorded and shared on social media.

Observers believe Bolsonaro spoke about the meeting to show to his supporters that he was not isolated internationally and he had the support of Americans. The Americans, say experts, may use a weakened leader to play their game in the region. In an article, titled “The CIA, Brazil and The New Cold War with China” in Brasil Wire, an independent media outlet here, political commentator Nathalia Urban wrote that imperative behind the CIA director “classified trip to Brazil appears to be part of an effort to contain and prevent ascendence of South American governments allied with, or sympathetic” to China.

Across the country, protesters carried inflated dolls or cutouts of Bolsonaro with slogans that accuse him of genocide. Photo: Cuca da UNE

“It started with Trump and the tariff wars and this is intensifying in the political-diplomatic sphere under Biden, through the attempt to create a network of alliances around China to contain it and diplomatically isolate the country,” wrote Urban in a sharp analysis in which she also mentioned Lula’s recent statements about the importance of good relations with both China and Russia.
In recent months, the South American leftist parties are on the rise again. Already back in power in Argentina and Bolivia, the leftists almost won in Ecuador a few months ago. In Peru, their victory is certain; in Chile, they are leading the polls for elections; and in Brazil, if elections are held today, Lula will beat Bolsonaro in the first round itself.

It is not a scenario Washington would like to have in the region they have always seen and regarded as their backyard, but a lot depends on the mood on the Brazilian streets which is getting angry with a growing scandal.


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Nov 16, 2011
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Watch: What's the Controversy Over Brazil's Covaxin Deal With Bharat Biotech?
A Brazilian health ministry official alleged that he had informed President Bolsonaro about the pressure he was facing to buy Covaxin despite certain red flags such as high prices and pending regulatory approvals.
Watch: What's the Controversy Over Brazil's Covaxin Deal With Bharat Biotech?

Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro is in a bind over alleged irregularities in the Covaxin deal with Hyderabad-based Bharat Biotech. There are allegations that the government struck a speedy agreement with Bharat Biotech when offers from Pfizer at a lower price were ignored at the time. However, in response to the allegations, Bolsonaro has said Brazil never paid for or received any doses of Covaxin developed by the Indian company.
A Brazilian health ministry official, Luis Ricardo Miranda, who appeared before a parliamentary panel on Friday, June 25, said that he had informed the president about the internal pressure he was facing to buy Covaxin despite certain red flags that he had raised over purchasing a tranche of doses.
Amid a probe into the allegations, Brazil’s health minister on Thursday, June 30, announced that the country will suspend a $324 million contract to buy 20 million doses of Covaxin.
The Wire explains the matter in this video.


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Nov 16, 2011
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From CovaxinGate to Kumbh Test Fraud, Bharat Biotech's Dubai MoU Opens New Line of Probe
The Indian firm signed an MoU with its representative in Brazil and a company registered in UAE in November 2020 for its vaccine sale to Brazil. The second company is untraceable, raising suspicions about its owner and role in the deal.
From CovaxinGate to Kumbh Test Fraud, Bharat Biotech's Dubai MoU Opens New Line of Probe

The senate panel is looking at all documents related to Bharat Biotech's vaccine contract with Brazil with a magnifying glass. Photo: Edilson Rodrigues/Agência Senado

Sao Paulo: Bharat Biotech’s contract with Brazil, already suspended and under several investigations, is facing new scrutiny with the revelations that the Hyderabad-based company had signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with its Brazilian representative and a Dubai firm, which is not traceable.
The MoU, obtained by Folha de Sao Paulo newspaper, was sent by the Indian company’s Brazil representative, Precisa Medicamentos, to that country’s ministry of health as a proof of their partnership. But the presence of a third company and the date of the agreement has come to the notice of the parliamentary commission of inquiry (CPI) which is digging deeper into the scandal involving the planned supply of 20 million doses of Covaxin in a $300 million deal.
The tripartite MoU, signed on November 24, 2020, four days after the first meeting between Bharat Biotech’s top brass, their Brazilian representatives and health ministry officials, says that Envixia Pharmaceuticals LLC, a company registered in the United Arab Emirates, “would be responsible for providing support for all activities related to the registration and commercialization of Covaxin in Brazilian territory”.
While the role of Precisa Medicamentos in the deal is known – and being probed – this is the first time that the name Envixia, in a crucial role, has cropped up in this scandal.
Also read: Trouble for Bharat Biotech as Brazil Opens Two Criminal Probes into ‘CovaxinGate’

As per the document, released by Folha de Sao Paulo, the MoU proposes a future contract between three “parties”. While mails sent to Bharat Biotech and Precisa Medicamentos by The Wire remained unanswered, the executive director of the Brazilian firm, Emmanuela Medrades, confirmed to Folha de Sao Paulo that the Dubai company was “indeed” part of the document.

In the MoU, obtained and published by Folha de Sao Paulo, Envxia is a company registered in the International Free Zone Area.
“Envixia’s participation is normal. It was chosen by Bharat [Biotech] to explore the possibilities for the vaccine in Brazil and the United Arab Emirates,” said Medrades, who had travelled to India in January 2021 to sign a contract with Bharat Biotech and also put her name on the pact with the Brazilian government on February 25, 2021.
The clarification from Medrades says little and the executive will surely face a barrage of questions when she appears at the senate hearing on Tuesday (July 13). Precisa Medicamentos is the main target of senators who are looking at its documents with a magnifying glass. The appearance of the MoU, say sources in Brasilia, have opened two new lines of investigation. First, how did the representatives of Bharat Biotech attend an official meeting before signing an MoU with the company? And secondly, what exactly is the role of Envixia in the deal?
As an invoice for advance payment of $45 million sent by Madison Biotech, an offshore firm in Singapore which is not part of the Covaxin contract, has already made the probe follow the money, the appearance of another company, which can’t be located, has also triggered the curiosity of investigators.
The Mumbai connection
Envixia Pharmaceuticals LLC is so elusive that even Google can’t find it.
An internet search for the company’s name shows no results. But inquiries by The Wire suggest the company probably has links with a Mumbai-based firm, Invex Healthcare, whose owner is being investigated by the Uttarakhand Police in the fake COVID-19 tests scandal during the Kumbh Mela in Haridwar.
Also read: Fake COVID Tests at Kumbh: New CM Gave Job to ‘Unfit’ Company With BJP Ties
In the Memorandum of Understanding signed on November 24, 2020, Envixia Pharmaceuticals LLC is mentioned as a company in “International Free Zone Authority, Fujairah – UAE having its registered office at Kidnah, Block A, Plot 4, Fujairah – UAE.”
The publicly available records of the International Free Zone Authority (IFZA), located in Dubai Digital Park, show nothing for Envixia. The records of Dubai Financial Services Authority and National Economic Register, Ministry of Economy, United Arab Emirates, also show no results for this name. The Wire sent a mail to IFZA, asking if a company named Envixia was ever registered with the authority but got no response till the time of original publication.
On Monday, in an email response, the Dubai-based authority confirmed that “Envixia Pharmaceuticals FZCO is registered with IFZA and the license is active”. As FZCO stands for free zone company and the firm mentioned in the MoU is called “Envixia Pharmaceuticals LLC”, with LLC standing for limited liability company, The Wire wrote back to the free zone authority to confirm if companies can register as LLC with IFZA. The Wire also asked the Dubai authority to share the identity of the person in whose name the company Envixia Pharmaceuticals FZCO is registered and when it was done with how much capital? The authority was also asked to confirm if “Anudesh Goyal is registered as a general manager or director of this company”? To this query, IFZA sent a one-line reply: “Unfortunately, we will not be able to share any further information without the consent of the license holder.”
The details in the MoU also raise suspicions about Envixia’s precise status. At the bottom of the document, there are three signatures. On behalf of Bharat Biotech, it is signed by Dr V. Krishna Mohan whose title is written as whole-time director; the witness signature appears to read “Apoorv Kumar”, who, as per other documents seen by The Wire, is a top executive of the company. In the middle column of the MoU, sits the signature of Francisco Maximiano, the president of Precisa Medicamentos. In the third column, the MoU is “signed and delivered on behalf of Envixia Pharmaceuticals LLC” by Anudesh Goyal whose title is written as general manager. Unlike the other two columns, there is no date and company stamp below Goyal’s name. The witness signature in this column appears to be “A Gavande”.

In the MoU, below the signature of Anudesh Goyal, there is no date and stamp of the company, raising more doubts about its existence.
The Wire sent a set of questions on Friday morning to Bharat Biotech and Precisa Medicamentos, asking about their relationship with Envixia and Anudesh Goyal’s role in the supply of vaccines to Brazil, but got no response. An executive of the media wing of Bharat Biotech confirmed the receipt of questions and promised to “forward to (persons) concern (sic) and revert”, but there was no reply, as with the previous queries sent to the company by The Wire in the past few weeks.
It is hard to understand why a company of the size of Bharat Biotech would not respond to a few basic questions about their business partner, especially when their multi-million-dollar contract with Brazil faces a threat of cancellation. But, irrespective of the company’s silence, the names of Envixia and Anudesh Goyal are now on the radar of investigators in the burgeoning scandal.
The trail to Kumbh
For many pharmaceutical executives The Wire spoke to, the name Envixia doesn’t ring a bell. But Anudesh Goyal is not an unknown quantity in pharmaceutical circles in Mumbai and Dubai, where he might have participated at the “Arab Health” event held at Dubai World Trade Centre in January 2020. A Mumbai-based company, Invex Healthcare, which took part in this Dubai gig is headed by one Anudesh Goyal who has his office in Andheri. On its website, Invex Health describes itself as a “fully integrated pharmaceutical company with services extended from delivering pharmaceutical products to pharma mergers and acquisitions”.

On his LinkedIn profile, Anudesh Goyal is listed as the “Director of Invex Health Private Limited”, who is with the company full-time since December 2018, when it was founded. Of the four employees – present and former – on the company’s LinkedIn profile, one is Anagha Gavande who worked as a business development specialist from November 2019 to February 2021.
It is conceivable that two persons with the same names have similar professional profiles. But in this case, the similarities are too many. Not only are the two firms in the same sector (health) and have similar-sounding names – “Envixia” and “Invex” – they are also headed by persons of the same name – Anudesh Goyal.
And the witness signature below Goyal’s in the MoU appears to be “A Gavande”, similar to the name of Anagha Gavande who was employed with the Mumbai firm in November 2020, when the MoU was signed. The Wire sent an email to the address on the company’s website, asking about Goyal’s relationship with Envixia and Bharat Biotech. Two calls made from two different numbers on the mobile phone number of Invex were declined after a few rings. A copy of the mail sent to Anudesh Goyal, was also sent to a WhatsApp number of the company. The message was delivered and seen – indicated by blue ticks – but not replied for more than 24 hours.
Also read: Brazil Rallies Against Bolsonaro as He Faces Court-Ordered Criminal Probe in ‘CovaxinGate’
The Invex angle has given a completely new twist to the Covaxin story in Brazil. As already reported in the Indian media, a person named Anudesh Goyal has been interrogated by the Special Investigation Team of Uttarakhand Police for “mediating” a pact between two firms which are accused of serious irregularities in COVID-19 tests during the Kumbh Mela.
A senior official of Uttarakhand Police confirmed to The Wire that Anudesh Goyal, whose company is called Invex Health, has been questioned. “We can’t say if he runs a company called Envixia but he certainly has some business in Dubai,” said the official, speaking on the condition of anonymity. “Our focus is the irregularity committed in testing during the Kumbh Mela,” said the official, adding that they had no instructions to look into the Covaxin case.
But based on the MoU document and their own investigation, the Brazilian media published on Friday a couple of reports establishing a connection between Covaxingate in Brazil and the Kumbh Mela fraud in India. The common link in the two cases, as per the reports, being Anudesh Goyal, who hasn’t responded to messages despite repeated attempts by The Wire and Folha de Sao Paulo reporters.
The price of uncertainty
The vaccine controversy, which has made ordinary Brazilians go to the streets in huge numbers to demand President Jair Bolsonaro’s removal from power, has also tarnished the image of Bharat Biotech. The revelations that the company sent an invoice of $45 million into an offshore account without delivering a single dose has damaged its reputation and also made the Covaxin contract the focus of the senate probe. Now, with revelations about a fourth company – from Dubai – the MoU may get as much attention as the Singapore invoice and the contract between the Indian firm and its Brazilian representative.

In the city of Sao Paulo, the biggest parties of the left and right came together to demand removal of Bolsonaro. Photo: Cuca da UNE
With their pointed questioning of government officials, the senators leading the probe have been trying to sniff the money trail in CovaxinGate, which many of them have accused to be a “grand corruption scheme” to buy the most expensive vaccine. Bharat Biotech has claimed that it always offered to sell Covaxin for $15 to $20 to international buyers. But the senate probe is looking at an official document that says that the Indian firm had offered to sell its vaccine for $10 a dose to the Brazilian government with the possibility of dropping the price further.
In a meeting held on November 20, 2020, four days before the MoU was signed between the three companies, Bharat Biotech offered a price of $10, as per an official document sent by the ministry of health to the commission. First revealed by Estado de Sao Paulo newspaper, the “Minutes of the Meeting” show that three local representatives of Bharat Biotech attended the meeting in person, while four of its executives had joined via a video link. On the Brazilian government side, Elcio Franco, then executive secretary of the ministry was present with six other officials.

A Minutes of the Meeting document from the ministry of health shows the Indian company made an offer of $10 per dose in its first meeting with the Brazilian government in November 2020. Photo: Screenshot of TV Senado
“The price of the vaccine is $10 per dose, which, due to the eventual purchase of a large amounts of doses, could be reduced and would be open to negotiation,” says the document, which lists the commercial and legal aspects of the negotiations.
The document, which was put on a large screen in the senate chamber on July 7, shows the names of Francisco Maximiano and Emmanuela Medrades attending the meeting on behalf of Precisa Medicamentos. For the Indian company, Dr Raches Ella, Sai Prasad, Venkat Hariharan and Apoorv Kumar had joined. While senators from the government side have claimed that the offer of $10 per dose was never made formally, the official document suggests otherwise. The first time that Bharat Biotech mentioned the price of $15 was on January 12, 2021, the day it signed a contract with its Brazilian representative and gave Brazil just three days to accept the offer. The agreement between Brazil and Bharat Biotech was signed for $300 million. The cost to Brazil would be $100 million less, say senators, if the initial offer had been maintained.
The question of how and why the cost of the vaccine went up was the focus of inquiry this week. On Wednesday, as the health ministry’s documents was on the screen in the senate, several senators accused that the extra $100 million in the deal was the amount to be swindled.
With the document still on display, Senator Renan Calheiros, the rapporteur of the commission, trained his guns directly at Bolsonaro. “The Covaxin vaccine was overpriced…This is perhaps the most important finding of the CPI. While rejecting the vaccines from Pfizer and others, the President asked the Prime Minister of India to send 20 million doses…The President not only knew about the swindler’s deal he participated in it…,” said Senator Calheiros in a rare outburst at the session broadcast live and watched by millions.

Senator Renan Calheiros, the CPI rapporteur, sees a definite scandal in the rise of Covaxin price from $10 to $15 and blames Bolsonaro for the scandal. Photo: Pedro França/Agência Senado
Bolsonaro’s image, already in tatters, has taken a severe beating with CovaxinGate. A poll released on Thursday showed that his rejection rate has crossed 51%, a new record.

It also showed that the vast majority of the country thinks the president is dishonest. Boxed in by the probe, Bolsonaro has been firing at the Congress and Election Commission, threatening to cancel the election scheduled for 2022. This has provoked a sharp rebuke from the senate chief, Supreme Court judges and political commentators. As the inquiry rolls on, more dirt is certain to come out. And with it will come political uncertainty in Brazil – with Covaxin sitting at the centre of it.


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Nov 16, 2011
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NEWSA Brief History of 'Rachadinha' - The Corruption Scheme Haunting Brazil's Bolsonaro

Newly leaked audio recordings have sparked a political firestorm in Brazil - linking President Jair Bolsonaro to an extortion scheme where political staffers had to give up part of their salaries in order to keep their jobs, a practice known as "rachadinha." InSight Crime looks back at how these allegations have grown over the years.
It began on December 6, 2018. It had been just 91 days since Jair Bolsonaro, a polarizing veteran of Rio de Janeiro’s brutal political wars, had been stabbed in the belly during a presidential campaign stop.

The stab wound was deep, reaching his liver, lung and intestines. Despite not returning to the campaign trail, he won both rounds of the presidential election.

By December, with polls showing he was admired and feared in seemingly equal measure, Bolsonaro was preparing for his upcoming inauguration. In a speech to Brazil’s Supreme Electoral Court (Tribunal Superior Eleitoral – TSE), he solemnly declared that “the building of a fairer and more developed nation requires a break with historical practices that have delayed our progress, no more corruption, no more violence, no more lies.”
But another wound was coming, not a physical one but a slow-acting wound that would regularly return to sap energy from Bolsonaro, his family and his closest allies.
Fabrício Queiroz, The Confidant
On December 6, 2018, Brazil’s Council for Financial Activities Control (Conselho de Controle de Atividades Financeiras - Coaf) released a damning report. It identified suspicious transactions worth 1.2 million reais (around $230,000) made by Fabrício José Carlos de Queiroz, the former driver of Bolsonaro’s eldest son, Flávio.

Many of these transactions were for sums under $10,000 reais (about $1,900), presumably as a way of trying to hide them. Another $24,000 reais (around $4,600) were paid to the account of the first lady in waiting, Michelle Bolsonaro.
Perhaps to their credit, the Bolsonaro clan did not immediately throw Queiroz under the bus. This man had been a long-term ally, a chauffeur, an adviser, a friend invited to barbecues and football games.
On December 7, 2018, Jair Bolsonaro admitted to the payments. In fact, he said Queiroz had paid his wife more than what Coaf had stated. The repayments had been for a total of $40,000 reais, made in 10 installments of $4,000 each to settle a personal debt.
But the story didn’t go away. And a word that has long plagued Brazilian politics entered the conversation.
What is Rachadinha?
Rachadinha. The concept is tricky. Foreign correspondents weren’t even sure how to translate it. It derives from rachar, to split or to crack.

It refers to a scheme somewhere between extortion and bribery, which can be carried out in a number of ways. One common tactic sees lower-ranked government officials or political staffers forced to split their public salary, keeping one part for themselves and giving another to their superiors in order to keep their jobs. Another way is to simply create fake political jobs, with those appointed to these positions never doing any work. Their salary is then again divided between themselves and higher-ups.

And it is seemingly omnipresent in Rio. The first Coaf report was not focused on Queiroz alone, it named around 20 other political staff in the Rio de Janeiro legislature at the time as being involved with rachadinha.

The Queiroz scheme appeared to be of the first variety. The amounts involved quickly increased. By mid-December 2018, an investigation by Brazil’s Attorney General’s Office found that Queiroz had been involved in up to $2.9 million in suspicious transactions, with small amounts deposited and withdrawn in cash. At least 483 deposits were linked to political staff or advisors linked to Flávio Bolsonaro, then a state senator in Rio de Janeiro.

Prosecutors stated that Flávio was receiving money in seemingly legal transactions after the funds were laundered through a chocolate shop he owned in western Rio.

The amounts directly linked to the presidential couple also continued to increase. In 2020, news magazine Crusoé reported that Michelle Bolsonaro had been receiving payments from Queiroz since 2011, reaching 89,000 reais (about $17,000). Queiroz was even paying school fees for Flávio’s daughters.

And the money allegedly paid to the entire Bolsonaro family was also adding up: 450,000 reais (some $86,000).

But still, the family of the president managed to dodge trouble. For a while, at least.

In August 2020, Queiroz was arrested at the home of Frederick Wassef, the attorney of Flávio Bolsonaro. But not for any charges connected to rachadinha. Instead, one of the most-watched men in Brazil had allegedly been continuing to commit crimes, working to slow down the investigation, in part by pressuring witnesses.
The mood in the Bolsonaro camp shifted.

Flávio went on the attack. The allegations against Queiroz were “another piece moved on the checkerboard to attack Bolsonaro,” he wrote on Twitter.

President Bolsonaro was also pugnacious. At a press conference a week after Queiroz’s arrest, a reporter from O Globo asked: “President, why did your wife Michelle receive 89,000 reais from Fabrício Queiroz?”

“I feel like covering your mouth in punches,” the president replied.

The case continued to evolve.
Bolsonaro Clan Under Investigation
By early 2021, Flávio Bolsonaro was under investigation for the rachadinha case, suspected of having helped to create 12 fake jobs in his office as state senator, leading to the embezzlement of 6.1 million reais (more than $1 million).
In a breathtaking act of political showmanship, Flávio sold the chocolate shop suspected of laundering the rachadinha money and bought a luxury mansion in the capital, Brasilia. The price of the mansion: 6 million reais.
The rachadinha case remained a wound in the side of the president, distracting him, putting his children and his wife in legal jeopardy, requiring his increasingly strident attention.
That is until July 5, 2021. In a three-part investigation, Brazilian news site, UOL published audio messages from President Bolsonaro’s former sister-in-law, which seem to indicate the president was an active part of a rachadinha scheme while he was a state deputy in Rio from 1991 to 2018. In these messages, Andrea Siqueira Valle can be heard describing how the president kicked out her brother, André, from a rachadinha scheme for not paying in enough money.
“André caused a lot of problems because he never returned the right amount of money that had to be returned, you understand? He had to pay in 6,000 reais but he paid in 2,000, 3,000 reais. It was a while like that until Jair caught him and said: enough. You can remove him because he never gives me the right money,” said Siqueira Valle.
This marks the first time President Bolsonaro has been directly linked to any rachadinha scheme.
The Bolsonaro family lawyer, the same one who was hiding Queiroz before his arrest, immediately denied the allegations. But the probe is picking up steam.
Senior parliamentarians want to call Siqueira Valle to testify in front of the Brazilian Senate. Hundreds of thousands of protesters have descended to the streets.
Yet, Bolsonaro may yet cling to power. His presidential impunity would have to be stripped for him to face an impeachment trial. Despite the president’s falling popularity, his political allies have not abandoned him and are likely to block any motion to impeach or strip him of immunity.
But should the rachadinha case be shelved until he leaves office in 2022, it would likely become one of a number of cases haunting the embattled president.


Senior Member
Nov 16, 2011
Country flag
India-Brazil Chamber of Commerce on Senate Radar as CovaxinGate Probe Goes Beyond Brazil
The parliamentary inquiry panel seeks details of Madison Biotech’s partners, which includes Dr Krishna Ella of Bharat Biotech, and its assets.
India-Brazil Chamber of Commerce on Senate Radar as CovaxinGate Probe Goes Beyond Brazil

Elson Gomes Junior, the honorary president of the chamber who also serves at India's honorary consul in Belo Horizonte, welcoming Bharat Biotech's co-founder Suchitra Ella on the advisory board of IBCC on March 8, 2021. Photo: Facebook/IBCC

Sao Paulo: Just before going on a two-week break, starting on Saturday, the Brazilian parliamentary commission of inquiry (CPI) investigating the handling of the COVID-19 pandemic by the Brazilian government opened new lines of probe into the Covaxin contract. With the scandal around Bharat Biotech’s vaccine getting bigger, it was revealed this week that a transaction of one million Brazilian reals ($2,00,000) by the Indian firm’s representative to the India-Brazil Chamber of Commerce (IBCC) is on the radar of the commission, which is mainly focused on the contract for 20 million doses of Covaxin. The panel is looking at the transfer of money to the chamber just ahead of the signing of $300-million deal on February 25, 2021.
First reported by O Globo newspaper on Wednesday, the day Emanuela Medrades, the executive director of Precisa Medicamentos, the Indian firm’s representative in Brazil, appeared at the Senate, the revelation has raised many questions – especially because the two top office-bearers of the chamber also hold the posts of honorary consuls of India in two cities here. While Leonardo Ananda Gomes, the chamber’s president, is honorary consul of India in Rio de Janeiro, his father, Elson Gomes Junior, occupies the same position in Belo Horizonte in addition to being IBCC’s honorary president. The chamber also has Suchitra Ella, the joint managing director and co-founder of Bharat Biotech, on its board besides having Precisa Medicamentos as an associate.

The chamber, which describes itself as a “private non-profit organisation”, has denied any role in the deal between the Indian company and Brazilian government. “As a policy, the chamber refrains from commenting on its business relations with members or associate members. However, in this specific case, it may be mentioned that any transfers made from Precisa Medicamentos to IBCC correspond to its contributions to the institution as part of membership and to the sponsorship of events and initiatives of IBCC in 2021,” the chamber said in response to a question from The Wire.

While in its reply to The Wire, the chamber didn’t elaborate on the events sponsored by Precisa Medicamentos, in its response to O Globo, the private organisation had listed them as “Pharmexcil [Pharmaceuticals Export Promotion Council of India] business roundtables; Celebration of the International Day of Yoga; Special Mission for the BRICS 2021 (to be held) and others”, which are all, in fact, organised by India’s official missions in Brazil. India has an embassy in Brasilia and a consulate-general in Sao Paulo. The posts in Rio de Janeiro and Belo Horizonte are honorary.

The Asuncion connection

The commission, comprising 11 senators, began its work in April to examine the government’s “acts of omission and commission” during the pandemic. But since June, its focus has shifted to Covaxin, with many revelations about suspected irregularities in the contract, which has already been suspended. As reported by The Wire, the commission has been probing the money trail in addition to looking at the deal between the Indian company and its Brazilian representative. Though the chamber has connections with both the companies, it denies helping in the “initial contact” between them. “Precisa Medicamentos became an associate member of IBCC on December 28, 2020,” said the chamber in response to The Wire’s questions.
While representatives of Precisa Medicamentos had attended the Indian firm’s first meeting with the Brazilian government on November 20, 2020, and the two signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on November 24, 2020, the formal contract between the two firms was signed on January 12, 2021, days after the Brazilian company had joined the chamber as an associate. The money, under the CPI’s scanner, was transferred to IBCC in two instalments on February 17 and 23, and the contract signed two days later. On March 8, Suchitra Ella joined the chamber’s advisory council. “We are pleased to announce the new member of the India Advisory Board of the IBCC, Ms Suchitra Ella…Furthermore, Bharat Biotech is a partner of Precisa Medicamentos, a company associated with the India Brazil Chamber of Commerce,” IBCC had announced in March 2021.

At the senate, Emanuela Medrades, who had signed both the contracts – with Bharat Biotech and the Brazilian government – was pushed by several senators on the chamber’s role in the deal. “Can you explain why on the eve of signing of the contract there were deposits of one million reals into the account of India Brazil Chamber of Commerce?” asked Senator Humberto Costa, a leading member of the commission. “No, I don’t know why,” said Medrades, who has been part of the negotiations from the beginning and made several trips to India as a top-ranking executive of her firm.

Emanuela Medrades, the top executive of the company that represents Bharat Biotech in Brazil, was pushed by several senators to explain the payment of $2,00,000 to the India-Brazil Chamber of Commerce whose two top office-bearers are India’s honorary consuls in Brazil. Photo: Jefferson Rudy/Agência Senado

The Brazilian company has been in the eye of a storm since it was revealed in mid-June that a Singapore-based company called Madison Biotech had sent an invoice for $45 million in advance payment to the Brazilian ministry of health. Revealed by Ricardo Miranda, a whistleblower from the ministry, the scandal has bought all aspects of the contract – the price of vaccine, offshore account, multiple invoices, MoU partners and the Brazilian company’s own record – under the scanner.

The investigation into the scandal, called CovaxinGate here, is keeping millions of Brazilians hooked on to the senate hearings. On Friday, before going on recess, the CPI members gave a clear hint of intensifying their investigations into newly-opened fronts by looking at Bharat Biotech’s deals beyond Brazil as they held a virtual meeting with parliamentarians from Paraguay. The Indian vaccine’s deal with Brazil’s neighbour is under probe in that country too. Now, senators from both countries have created a channel for sharing information on the two deals which are linked to the Singapore firm.

Though the Paraguayan story has been known for a while, what triggered the CPI’s interest in that probe is a statement by Medrades at her testimony. When asked about the legality of the invoice from Madison Biotech, which is not part of the contract, the executive cited the example of Covaxin deal with Paraguay as a “normal procedure”. Two days later, Brazilian senators linked up with their counterparts in Asuncion to see the documents obtained by them. The contract has become a hot political issue in Paraguay as the Indian firm faces allegations of “breaching the contract” for two million doses. The focus of the probe in both the countries is the demand for payment into an offshore account in Singapore for a vaccine that is manufactured and exported from India.

Passing the buck

Emanuela Medrades made her appearance at the Senate on July 13. As she entered the chamber, she bumped her fists with CPI president Omar Aziz before taking a seat next to him. With a black mask pulled up to the edge of her lower eyelids, Medrades refused to answer even basic questions, using the right to “not self-incriminate” herself. After a tense day, during which the Supreme Court clarified that it was for the panel to decide which questions could be “self-incriminatory”, Medrades returned to the chamber only to complain that she was “exhausted”. Chastised by Senator Aziz as another senator demanded her arrest, Medrades promised to “answer all the questions” the next day.

On July 14, Medrades returned to the chamber in a new avatar, giving long answers to all questions. With the mask still raised up to the edge of her eyes, Medrades put up a spirited defence of Precisa Medicamentos as she aligned her position with that of President Jair Bolsonaro’s government. When pressed by senators on crucial issues like the vaccine price, offshore firm and invoices, Medrades passed the buck to Bharat Biotech, the company on whose behalf she signed the contract with the government.

In her testimony, the Brazilian executive defended her company while passing the explanation to most challenging questions to Bharat Biotech. Photo: Jefferson Rudy/Agência Senado

Precisa Medicamentos is no stranger to controversies. Earlier this year, the company was probed by the federal police in the purchase of 150,000 rapid test units. More recently, seven days before the signing of the Covaxin contract, the company’s name figured in another scandal in the purchase of condoms by the health ministry. The controversial firm has a majority-share holder called Global, which has been charged with receiving $4 million in advance from the ministry and not delivering the order for rare-disease medicines. A recent report by the Financial Activity Control Council has raised alarm over the company moving a volume of “resources incompatible with its equity” between February and June 2021. When Senator Humberto Costa asked the executive if Bharat Biotech was aware of the investigation into Precisa Medicamentos’s deal for rapid tests and other cases, Medrades replied that the Indian company knew their history. “We were always transparent (with them),” said Medrades in a matter-of-fact manner.

When CPI rapporteur Renan Calheiros tried to corner Medrades on the controversial MoU between Bharat Biotech, Precisa Medicamentos and a third company called Envixia Pharma LLC, the executive again passed the buck to the Indian company. “Envixia was brought by Bharat [Biotech]…we have no relationship with Envixia. It is Bharat [Biotech] who decide who will be their broker in each of their operations,” said Medrades, using the English word “broker” for Envixia in a testimony that was entirely in Portuguese. Again, on the matter of taxes, the executive diverted the question towards Hyderabad. In response to Senator Calheiros’s question on how Brazil would collect taxes from a company based in a tax haven, Medrades was again curt and clear: “The taxes will be paid at source – in India or Singapore.”

With a raging controversy around CovaxinGate, Bharat Biotech has become a household name in this country – albeit in an extremely negative sense. But, despite the row and suspension of its $300-million contract, the company has largely remained mum or issued statements which can be misleading at best. Now, after Medrades’s testimony, it seems the Indian company and its Brazilian representative may not even be on the same page on issues such as the price of Covaxin. The Indian company’s claims that it always proposed to sell its vaccine at $15 a dose, a position which has been challenged by news outlets including The Wire, with reports based on an official document that shows the company made an initial offer of $10 a dose. Dismissing the price in the document as a “mistake”, Medrades held Bharat Biotech responsible for the $15 price as she claimed that her company had “tried to bring the price below $10 in its negotiations” with the Indian firm.

The Brazilian health officials too have maintained the same position, that they tried to bring the vaccine price down, without bothering to explain why they accepted the value – the highest for any vaccine – for a serum that didn’t even have approval from the country’s health regulator.

The devil in the detail

CovaxinGate would not have become such a huge issue if the head of health ministry’s import wing, Ricardo Miranda, had not gone to the media – and then to Senate – with his story that he had informed Bolsonaro about the $45-million invoice and the “extreme pressure” put on him to approve it. In its defence, the government deployed top officials who claimed at a press conference that the first invoice was “fabricated” by Miranda and only its second and third versions were the right invoices sent by the Singapore firm.
If a few had doubts about Miranda’s story, they were dispelled in a brilliant takedown of the second and third invoices by Senator Simone Tebet during a hearing last week. Like a deft prosecutor, the senator put the two invoices on a screen inside the chamber as she pointed out the mistakes, counting no less than 30 – all marked with red arrows – in the invoices. While the first invoice, said the senator who is a lawyer by training, had “no mistakes as it came from Singapore where English is the official language”, the other invoices have many grammatical mistakes. “There are numerous errors, the most glaring of them is the spelling of PRICE, which is correct in the first invoice, but turns into PRINCE in the other two…also the preposition “to” has been dropped from “according the agreement” in the invoice. It seems someone has done a literal translation from Portuguese,” said Tebet, hinting that the two invoices were fabricated in Brazil. “Someone committed a fraud.”

Senator Simone Tebet points to the mistakes in the invoices which the top government officials had claimed to be authentic. Photo: Agência Senado

Senator Tebet’s performance, which went viral on social media, had put the government and Precisa Medicamentos in quite a tight spot. But at her testimony, Medrades rescued them both by stating that the invoices came directly from Bharat Biotech in India. “All the changes to the invoices were not done in Brazil, but were made by Bharat [Biotech],” said Medrades, once again passing the buck to the Indian firm. When Senator Eliziane Gama pointed out that the time of delivery of the invoice email shows that it was sent at 6:30 am from India and wondered “if people worked so early”, Medrades was again crisp in her reply: “Yes, they do work so early.”

In the third invoice, which was corrected in India as per Emanuela Medrades, “price” is spelled as “prince” and the preposition “to” has been dropped from “according the agreement”.

It may be a bit early to say if Precisa Medicamentos has thrown Bharat Biotech under the bus to save their own skin or if it is a calculated strategy to block uncomfortable questions as the Indian firm and its executives are quite far from the Brazilian panel’s reach. But that may change soon as the senators look determined to dig deeper. Already sitting on more than two tetra bytes of documents, the CPI asked the federal police, ministry of health, Internal Revenue Service and the Brazilian Army for more information and documents about the Covaxin deal on Friday. The senators have also asked Precisa Medicamentos to produce the contract between the company and Bharat Biotech and provide complete information about the partners, shareholders and beneficiaries of the assets of Madison Biotech, the firm located in Singapore. Founded by Dr Krishna Ella in February 2020, the Singapore offshore has among its directors Dr Raches Ella, a US citizen who led the Covaxin clinical trial, and Krishnamurthy Sekar, a Singapore citizen who presumably signed the first invoice but has not accepted or denied it till now.

With Madison Biotech under probe in Brazil and Paraguay and the investigators going after it structure in Singapore, Bharat Biotech definitely has more probing questions coming its way when the CPI resumes its sessions on August 3, with a testimony by Precisa Medicamentos’s owner Francisco Maximiano.


Regular Member
Sep 8, 2020
Country flag
Why NDTV isn't a reliable source?

As far as I know, NDTV is one of most viewed channels of India.
Sorry, its not. It may be popular within those who want to push a particular agenda within and outside India especially, but both NDTV and The Wire are NOT credible sources within India, hardly have any credence outside some commie/islamist echochambers.


Senior Member
Nov 16, 2011
Country flag
Bolsonaro’s ‘banana republic’ military parade condemned by critics
Armoured vehicles roll through streets of Brasília as congress prepares to vote on plans to change Brazil’s voting system
Brazilian Navy tanks pass next to the National Congress

Brazilian Navy tanks pass next to the National Congress Photograph: Adriano Machado/Reuters

Tue 10 Aug 2021 16.35 BST

Critics have denounced Jair Bolsonaro’s “banana republic-style” decision to send combat vehicles on to the streets of Brazil’s capital for a rare military parade in what was widely seen as a beleaguered president’s ham-fisted attempt to project strength.
Bolsonaro, whose ratings have plunged as a result of his chaotic response to the Covid pandemic, looked on from the marble ramp outside the presidential palace as a motorcade of armoured vehicles trundled past on Tuesday morning.

“Ridiculous. Grotesque. Pitiful. Needless. Banana Republic stuff,” tweeted the Brasília-based journalist Brunno Melo as the procession advanced under a perfect blue sky.

The hastily arranged parade – which experts said had no precedent in the years since the restoration of democracy in 1985 – was reportedly ordered by Bolsonaro last Friday and came on the same day members of congress were scheduled to vote on highly controversial Bolsonaro-backed plans to change Brazil’s voting system.

It also followed a succession of incendiary and anti-democratic remarks from Brazil’s leader, an authoritarian-minded former army captain who has said next year’s presidential elections may not happen if the changes are not approved.

“This is an obvious and explicit attempt by Bolsonaro to show that the armed forces are on his side,” said Thaís Oyama, a political journalist who first reported plans for the military mobilisation on Monday.
Oyama called the event “typical Bolsonaro”. She said: “The only language he speaks is provocation. The only thing he understands is threats and chaos. He is obsessed with demonstrating that the armed forces are on his side.”

Jair Bolsonaro (centre) waves as the parade passes.

Jair Bolsonaro (centre) waves as the parade passes. Photograph: Evaristo Sa/AFP/Getty Images

João Roberto Martins Filho, a leading military expert, said the procession was “completely unheard of” in the nearly four decades since the end of the 1964-85 military dictatorship and was an attempt by Bolsonaro to reaffirm his dominance.
“There are those who say the military chiefs control Bolsonaro … but I think he is utterly uncontrollable,” Martins Filho said.

Opposition politicians from left and right condemned the spectacle, which the defence ministry claimed was held to formally invite Bolsonaro to annual navy training exercises due to start next week near the capital. Those exercises have been held every year since 1988, however, and never before have armoured vehicles been sent to the heart of Brasília, which also houses Brazil’s congress and supreme court.
Alessandro Vieira, a centre-right senator, said it was unacceptable to squander public money on “an empty exhibition of military might”. “Brazil isn’t a toy in the hands of lunatics,” Vieira tweeted.
Sen Simone Tebet denounced the “improper and unconstitutional intimidation” of Brazil’s democratic system.

Omar Aziz, the president of a congressional inquiry into a Covid catastrophe that has killed more than half a million Brazilians, said: “Bolsonaro thinks this shows strength, but it’s actually just evidence of the fragility of a president who is cornered by corruption investigations … and the administrative incompetence that has caused death, hunger and unemployment in the midst of an uncontrolled pandemic.”

Many also regarded the president’s tanqueciata (tank parade) – which lasted only 10 minutes, featured a distinctly limited selection of fume-spewing military hardware, including a single model of Austrian tank, and was attended by only about 100 hardcore Bolsonaro supporters – as a fiasco.
Marcelo Soares, a São Paulo-based journalist, called the pageant a “legitimate show of farce”.

Supporters of Jair Bolsonaro cheer with a Brazilian flag as protesters hold flowers to give to soldiers from the military convoy in Brasilia

Supporters of Jair Bolsonaro cheer with a Brazilian flag as protesters hold flowers to give to soldiers from the military convoy in Brasilia. Photograph: Eraldo Peres/AP

José Roberto de Toledo, a political journalist from the magazine Piauí, compared the procession to the 1959 British comedy The Mouse That Roared, in which the puny Duchy of Grand Fenwick declares war on the US.
“It’s unbelievable … The only explanation is that they are trying to convince congress they need more money for equipment,” Toledo said. “Never in my wildest dreams could I have imagined they were capable of something so pathetic. It looks like it was staged by the opposition, or some infiltrated communist.”
Another wit compared the underwhelming cast of vehicles to the cartoon TV series Wacky Races.
Adding to the sense of absurdity, one pro-Bolsonaro lawmaker celebrated Bolsonaro’s parade on Twitter using an image of Chinese tanks processing through Beijing’s Tiananmen Square two years ago to mark the anniversary of Mao Zedong’s 1949 communist revolution.

Martins Filho said it was troubling that the commander of Brazil’s navy – appointed this year after the defence minister and heads of all three branches of the armed forces were forced out by Bolsonaro – had not resigned when asked to stage an “absolutely unnecessary” parade that had badly backfired.
“The comments people are making about the armed forces [today] are absolutely brutal. I just don’t understand how they don’t see the damage this is doing to their image.”


Senior Member
Nov 16, 2011
Country flag

Translation: "Oh, [Operation] Formosa! Never a simple military manoeuvre touched so much with my patriotism"

Who the Federal Deputy Otoni de Paula thinks he can to deceive with this pic of Chinese tanks?? Only the stupid Bolsonaro's mass followers to believe on this as a real strenght' demonstration of their so called Myth and "his Army".

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Senior Member
Nov 16, 2011
Country flag

Reality of Bolsonaro's Army: a handful of ph.ucked aged American APC's and tanks. :facepalm:

Do is with this lot of crap that Bolsonaro aims to bully the National Congress to approve his project of printed polling cells?? :rofl::pound::laugh:


Senior Member
Nov 16, 2011
Country flag
Man throws a bomb in the China's Consulate building in the Rio de Janeiro City.

A man thrown an explosive artefact on the China's Consulate, in this Thursday at night. The crime happened at 9:48 p.m. Images from street's camera shown the time that a man take an explosive artefact from his pocket, handles the object by ten seconds, launches it toward the Consulate, and after this he flees out. (link to the action's video)



The suspect man dresses a blacks pant, coat, mask and cap. The fact was shown to Federal Police, but registered at local police station. The police station actived the anti-bomb squad of Civil Police and is trying to identify the suspect man.

According to the police, the anti-bomb squad has taken the remaning fragments and carried to the investigators.

The only damage provoked by the explosive was on the Consulate's gate. Nobody was wounded.
(original link in Portuguese)


Sikkimese Saber
Senior Member
Aug 20, 2010
Country flag
I think that the Bolsonaro government is being targeted with the same US global Liberal elitist tactics that the Trump administration faced. Sure, Jair is not a very smart leader by any measure, but he is direct and that is what Brazil needs. These protests seem fake and manufactured, created by disproportionately feeding into the fears of Brazilians through political and social media engineering.

Think about it; Brazil is already well involved in the Anglophone-created political establishment despite their distinct policies. When Bolsonaro was elected, he was met with same hatred that the Trump administration had faced. Michel Temer, Jair's predecessor was a complete US puppet and that is exactly what they want in power installed in Brazil as well. When Dilma Roussef (whom Temer replaced) ordered a probe into NSA's spying on her, she was entrapped on 'corruption charges' at the behest of CIA and displaced. Roussef was a strong advocate of BRICS and was keen for Brazil to take an independent stand.

BRICS was systematically targeted by the US deep state since the 2012 summit. South Africa was the weakest link and Brazil was the closest; both are struggling. They tried to manufacture the same outrage and cancel culture narrative in India against Modi government but miserably failed, while being unable to do anything in China or Russia.

Bolsonaro is a 'conservative', a bit brash but definitely not the public enemy that he is made to look like.


Senior Member
Nov 16, 2011
Country flag

The Brazilianization of the World
by Alex Hochuli

The periphery is where the future reveals itself.
—Erroneously attributed to J. G. Ballard by Mark Fisher
“It couldn’t happen here.” Pandemics and other threats to health security were supposed to be problems in and from the Global South. But the deficiencies Western states have faced in developing and executing coherent plans, coordinating state agencies, communicating with the public, or even just producing and storing sufficient medical and pharmaceutical equipment (to say nothing of the EU’s scandalous vaccine rollout), have highlighted state failure in the very heartlands of global capitalism. Hollowed-out state capacities, political confusion, cronyism, conspiratorial thinking, and trust deficits have exposed the crumbling legitimacy that now makes rich and powerful states look like banana republics.
Surveying the rankings of pandemic readiness from before Covid-19 struck—like the Global Security Index or the Epidemic Preparedness Index—one finds that the United States and the United Kingdom were supposedly the two best-prepared countries, with EU countries ranked highly, too. These were states that felt they had nothing to learn from the previous experiences of countries such as Brazil, China, Liberia, Sierra Leone, or the Democratic Republic of the Congo. And although countries that have managed the pandemic well are few and far between, state failure in the heart of Western capitalism puts paid to any complacent notions about the End of History and the primacy of one model over another. We all seemingly live in “less-developed countries” now.
The reality is that the twentieth century—with its confident state machines, forged in war, applying themselves to determine social outcomes—is over. So are its other features: organized political conflict between Left and Right, or between social democracy and Christian democracy; competition between universalist and secular forces leading to cultural modernization; the integration of the laboring masses into the nation through formal, reasonably paid employment; and rapid and shared growth.
We now find ourselves at the End of the End of History. Unlike in the 1990s and 2000s, today many are keenly aware that things aren’t well. We are weighed down, as the late cultural theorist Mark Fisher wrote, by “the slow cancellation of the future,” of a future promised but not delivered, of involution in the place of progression.
The West’s involution finds its mirror image in the original country of the future, the nation doomed forever to remain the country of the future, the one that never reaches its destination: Brazil. The Brazilianization of the world is our encounter with a future denied, and in which this frustration has become constitutive of our social reality. While the closing of historical horizons has often been a leftist, indeed Marxist, concern, the sense that things don’t work as they should is now widely shared across the political spectrum.
Welcome to Brazil. Here the only people satisfied with their situation are financial elites and venal politicians. Everyone complains, but everyone shrugs their shoulders. This slow degradation of society is not so much a runaway train, but more of a jittery rollercoaster, occasionally holding out promise of ascent, yet never breaking free from the tracks. We always come back to where we started, shaken and disoriented, haunted by what might have been.
Most often, “Brazil” has been a byword for gaping inequality, with favelas perched on hillsides overlooking millionaire high-rises. In his 1991 novel Generation X, Douglas Coupland referred to Brazilianization as “the widening gulf between the rich and the poor and the accompanying disappearance of the middle classes.”1 Later that decade, Brazilianization was deployed by German sociologist Ulrich Beck to mean the cycling in and out of formal and informal employment, with work becoming flexible, casual, precarious, and decentered.2 Elsewhere, the process of becoming Brazilian refers to its urban geography, with the growth of favelas or shantytowns, the gentrification of city centers with poverty pushed to the outskirts. For others, Brazil connotes a new ethnic stalemate between a racially mixed working class and a white elite.
This mix-and-match portrait of Brazilianization is superficially compelling, as growing inequality and precarity fractures cities across Europe and North America. But why Brazil? Brazil is a middle-income country—developed, modern, industrialized. But Brazil is also burdened by mass poverty, backwardness, and a political class that seems to have advanced little since its days as a slaveholding landed elite. It is a cipher for the past, for an earlier stage of development that the Global North passed through—and thought it left behind.
North and South, Then and Now
After the eclipse of the East-West conflict of the Cold War, the new global dividing line in the age of globalization was said to be North-South. In the new division of the world at the end of history, the Global South was understood as a zone of poverty and conflict. Consequently, Western powers would assume two alternate postures in relation to it: a defensive one (guarding against its terrorism, environmental degradation, new diseases, organized crime, and drugs) and a paternalistic one (“helping them develop”). While the first posture suggested little hope that things might improve in the Global South, the latter did suggest a telos. The South would gradually come to resemble the North, with increasing affluence driven by masses of the “new middle class” desperate to emulate northern patterns of consumption.
Here was a reheated version of Cold War modernization theory, adapted for the era of globalization. For the poorest countries, international and NGO-led “development” programs pushed small-scale schemes like digging wells or microfinance, belying a failure of conviction that these countries could ever really “catch up.” These meliorist efforts were often sponsored by the same international financial institutions that had rent those societies asunder with structural adjustment in the 1980s.
For the better-off societies in the South, now called “emerging markets,” neoliberal development aped the tacit assumptions of modernization theory in assuming these countries were just “late,” but that they would get there eventually—they would become “like us.” Just look at the shopping malls springing up in São Paulo or Bangkok or Cairo! We just need to wait for that wealth to spread and soon these countries will join the rich-world club. In the pages of the Economist, for example, it was said that countries like Brazil just needed some liberal reforms before growth would once again take off. After all, Mexico, South Korea, and a handful of countries in Eastern Europe joined the OECD in the 1990s, with Chile following in 2010. It was only a matter of time.
What this story ignores is that the policy tools wielded by modernization theory (such as import-substitution industrialization) were now gone, as was the international scenario and technological relations that had made catch-up development possible. The technologies and associated industries of the Second Industrial Revolution were no longer in the vanguard. An economy based around the technologies of petroleum, rubber, and steel—say, the manufacture of automobiles—was no longer the stuff of “high value-add.” The important stuff—the really valuable ideas—were now protected by intellectual property rights, inaccessible to a country such as Brazil. Global South and North are therefore no longer avatars of past and present, with the former slowly catching up to the latter, but now seem to exist in the same temporality.
Brazil consequently finds itself stuck—caught in the perennial fluctuation between hope and frustration. And the fate of being modern but not modern enough now seems to be shared by large parts of the world: WhatsApp and favelas, e-commerce and open sewers. In fact, leaving aside the exception of China’s remarkable ascent, the global story of the past forty years is one of retrogression, whatever bluster there may be about the “new middle class”—or, really, a working class that has entered consumer society precariously, now able to buy a fridge and a TV, and maybe even go to university for the first time in family history, but which has not achieved real security.
Indeed, this story of regression is now perhaps most conspicuous in the Global North, which today is demonstrating many of the features that have plagued the Global South: not just inequality and informalization of work, but increasingly venal elites, political volatility, and social ungluing. Is the rich world not also becoming “modern but not modern enough,” but in reverse?
Modernity without Development
The only way to understand what Brazilianization truly means, and what it might have in store for us, is to understand Brazil’s developmental trajectory and, by extension, to grasp what it says about our present and future. Indeed, Brazil’s consciousness of its own promise, and consequent frustration, has prompted the development of a critical perspective on modernization that the world would do well to study.
Brazil’s displaced perspective—that of a modern yet underdeveloped society—was perhaps best captured by literary critic Roberto Schwarz, one of a remarkable set of thinkers who composed the Marx Seminar in the late 1950s at the University of São Paulo. The seminar also included economist Paul Singer, philosopher José Arthur Giannotti, sociologists Michael Löwy and (future president of Brazil) Fernando Henrique Cardoso, among others. They built on the work of scholars like economist Celso Furtado, sociologist Florestan Fernandes, and literary critic Antonio Candido, who, for their part, stood on the shoulders of a generation active in the 1930s—the historians Sérgio Buarque de Holanda, Gilberto Freyre, and Caio Prado Júnior. All of these figures (many of whom we’ll encounter again) were united by a concern with describing and analyzing Brazil’s social formation, the dialectic of the new and persistence of the old, and in mediating between local peculiarity and the cosmopolitan reality of the country’s integration into global capitalism.3
In 1973, Schwarz wrote the influential essay “Ideas Out of Place.”4 Although the publisher’s English translation has the title “Misplaced Ideas,” the Portuguese title does not imply forgotten but rather inappropriate, inadequate, incorrectly placed ideas. It is this inadequacy to which Schwarz drew readers’ attention: In nineteenth-century Europe, liberal ideas of the rights of man and liberty-equality-fraternity were becoming hegemonic—an ideological and legal superstructure based on a regime of production centered on free labor. Brazil was different, however. In the tropics, liberalism could only be a baroque accoutrement to a society where unfree labor still obtained.
Elites spoke in liberal terms, but the reality was that slavery was only officially abolished in 1888, while other forms of unfree labor, and unfreedom in labor, remained in practice even longer. While in Europe liberalism might serve to conceal the complete reality of the dark satanic mills, it at least faithfully reflected one material reality—one in which individuals were formally free. In Brazil, liberalism could only be absurd, and so the test of reality or coherence never really applied.
Precisely the same mismatch of ideas and reality is now being found in modern times. “Conservatives” encourage the forces that destroy things worth conserving (say, the family); liberalism means defending the illiberalism of surveillance apparatuses; hyper-individualism winds up reifying essentialist conceptions of race (such that group belonging is treated as logically prior to the individual person); the Left is increasingly the party of the highly educated and well-heeled. All around we’re confronted with deaptation, an idea the philosopher Adrian Johnston has taken from memetic theory to describe the way that an initially adaptive memetic strategy later becomes useless or even counterproductive.5 If liberalism was a set of ideas appropriate to the bourgeoisie’s rise and then consolidation—all in the name of freedom—it is today in a state of deaptation, wielded in defense of hierarchy and domination.
Brazilian intellectuals have been tangling with deaptation for decades, and thus offer an important perspective from which to understand our moment and the misalignment between ideas and contemporary reality. Moreover, as scholars Luiz Philipe de Caux and Felipe Catalani remark, “in historical situations in which transplanted ideas are forced to readjust themselves to material conditions that do not sustain them in the same way as their conditions of origin, this maladjustment does not need to be discovered through reflection, as it is always already a daily feeling of the common man.”6 The average Brazilian has always sensed the hypocrisy of out-of-place ideas. Globalization—or Americanization, via the internet—means that ideas become unmoored from their conditions of origin and the determinate material realities to which they bear witness. Ideas are out of place everywhere, as seen in Europe when young people, in the midst of a pandemic with looming economic devastation, took to the streets to attack “white privilege” in overwhelmingly white-majority countries, thereby imagining themselves American.
As for Brazil, people once thought that its promised future would materialize when it erased the core-periphery division within itself—curing the problem of islands of wealth surrounded by oceans of poverty. Instead, it seems like it is the Global North catching up with the Global South in replicating this pattern. Brazil is once more in the global vanguard.
The Brazilian philosopher Paulo Arantes advanced the Brazilianization thesis in a remarkable 2004 essay, “The Brazilian Fracture of the World.”7 Arantes began by surveying various thinkers in the Global North who had registered disquiet about the course of development of global capitalism. As early as 1995, the conservative strategist Edward Luttwak wrote about the “Third-Worldization of America.” In the same year, Michael Lind referred directly to Brazil in his prognosis of an American society divided through a rigid, though informal, caste system. White elites governed a racially mixed society but the masses, internally divided, would allow for the strengthening of oligarchy.
A year later, Christopher Lasch would attest to the ruling class’s self-enclosure and separation from the rest of society in The Revolt of the Elites. Meanwhile, the former Thatcherite John Gray would write of an emerging “Latin American–style rentier regime” in which elites made a killing in the new globalized world, while the middle class lost its status and workers were proletarianized anew, putting an end to the great expectations provoked by postwar growth.
Catalan sociologist Manuel Castells saw that many would be excluded entirely even from this divided society. A new reality was emerging in which only the bourgeoisie would remain as a social class, albeit a transnational, cosmopolitan one.
The Birth of Belíndia
Brazil was born modern. It came into existence as a colony, a site for resource extraction, already linked into an emerging world market. Brazil may have been the last country to abolish slavery in the Western Hemisphere, but its chattel slavery was a product of early modernity. Brazil was never premodern or feudal. By the same measure, Brazilianization does not mean a simple return to semifeudal relations.
What then explains the persistence of unfree labor, the latifundia system, and its cultural and political effects, well into the twentieth century—in sum, all the “backward” elements of Brazil? Precisely that, in Brazil, the modern fed off the old and in turn reinforced and recreated it. In rural areas, an elastic supply of labor and land reproduced “primitive accumulation” in agriculture, holding back improvements in agricultural techniques. With industrialization from the 1930s onwards, this pool of rural poor came to serve as a reserve army of cheap urban labor.
What made Brazil’s process distinct is that the country’s industrialization and modernization during the populist period, from the mid‑1930s to the mid-’60s, did not require a rupture of the system, as bourgeois revolutions in Europe had a century earlier.8 Instead, the rural propertied classes remained in power and continued to gain through capitalist expansion. As the sociologist Francisco de Oliveira put it in his 1972 Critique of Dualist Reason, the “expansion of capitalism in Brazil happens through the introduction of new relations into archaic ones and the reproduction of archaic relations in the new.” This was reinforced politically through President Getúlio Vargas’s corporatist labor legislation, modeled on Mussolini’s as a means of formalizing and disciplining an urban proletariat. Crucially, it exempted labor relations in the countryside, preserving rural poverty and unfreedom.
For de Oliveira, the new world thus preserved earlier class relations. Consider, for example, that the new urban poor would build their own homes, thus reducing the cost of reproduction of this class: employers would not have to pay wages high enough to pay for rent. Favelas, then, are not an index of backwardness but something produced by the new.
Or consider how personal services rendered in the domestic sphere reinforce this model of accumulation. Upper-middle-class households in Brazil have maids or drivers that service them—an economic relationship that could only be replaced by costly investment in public services and infrastructure (for example, industrial cleaning services or public transport). As a consequence, the Brazilian middle class has a higher standard of living in this respect than its equivalents in the United States or Europe. The exploitation of cheap labor in the domestic sphere also impedes any political drive for improvement in public services.
Are we not faced with precisely such a Brazilianization of the world today—with a growing array of “concierge services,” whereby the professional class and elite alike hire private yoga teachers, private chefs, and private security? An upper-middle-class household in San Francisco comes to replicate an aristocratic manor with a whole economy of services rendered in the domestic sphere, but now everything is outsourced: digital platforms intermediate between private “contractors” (formerly employees) and the new elite. Brazil’s social structure showed us our future.
Reflecting on Brazil’s social formation once again in 2003, de Oliveira classed Brazil as a duck-billed platypus: a misshapen monster, neither any longer underdeveloped (“primitive accumulation” in the countryside having been displaced by a powerful agribusiness sector), nor yet having the conditions to complete its modernization—that is, to truly incorporate the masses into the nation.9 Crucially, this was not a foregone conclusion. Growing workers’ power in the lead-up to the 1964 coup could have led to a new settlement and an end to the high exploitation rate, while agrarian reform could have liquidated the source of the “reserve army of labor” that flooded into the cities in the 1970s, as well as finally destroying patrimonial power in the countryside.
Such a modernization project, however, would have required the participation of the national bourgeoisie in alliance with workers. The bourgeoisie backed the right-wing coup instead. In a great historical irony, noted by Roberto Schwarz in his introduction to de Oliveira’s platypus essay, it was Fernando Henrique Cardoso—the neoliberal president in the 1990s—who had observed, as a left-wing sociologist back in the 1960s, that the national bourgeoisie did not want development. Cardoso argued, in opposition to prevailing Left opinion of the time, that the bourgeoisie would prefer being a junior partner to Western capitalism than to risk seeing their domestic hegemony over the subaltern classes challenged in the future.10 Brazil’s elite chose not to develop.
According to de Oliveira, Brazil’s promised but endlessly frustrated future is visible in the fact that it is “one of the most unequal societies in the world . . . despite having had one of the strongest rates of growth over a long period. . . . The most evident determinations of this condition reside in the combination of the low standing of the workforce and external dependency.”11 Brazil thus could be a sort of utopia, given its natural blessings, fast growth, and enviable culture. The reality, in Caux and Catalani’s words, is that it is a country “whose essence consists in not being able to realize its essence.” It is not backwardness that prevents Brazil from claiming its destiny; its destiny is endless frustration.
Moreover, the social exclusion that seems so essential to Brazil’s social formation is not an accident, but a produced duality. In Brazil, this has been known as Belíndia, a term coined in 1974 by the economist Edmar Lisboa Bacha: Brazil is a rich, urban Belgium perched atop a poor, rural India, all in one country. Those in the Brazilian “Belgium” inhabit a country that is ostensibly modern and well-functioning, but is held back by those “outside,” in the backwards, semifeudal India. Yet as de Oliveira showed, the “inside” is dependent on the exploitation of the “outside” for its progress. Not only that, but the dualism shapes the inside of the “Belgium” itself; it creates a corrupt, patrimonial, and selfish elite, only too happy to wash its hands of the conditions found in its own “India.”
Unfortunately, rather than the Belíndia metaphor becoming less relevant in recent decades, it has only become more so. Consider what each component country represents in our times: Belgium may still be wealthy, but it is bureaucratized, fragmented, and immobile; India may still be poor, but it is now also high-tech and governed by reactionary populism. This could just as easily be a picture of Italy, the United States, or the United Kingdom, with their deep regional inequalities, sclerotic politics, and spectacular populism.
Coping with Modernity
If we return to Arantes’s Brazilianization thesis, we find that the cultural features of Brazilian development are also being echoed in our new, post-growth world. Certain patterns of behavior that appeared as Brazilians coped with their instant modernity—social relations structured around flexibility, rather than binding contract; a need to find semi-licit workarounds, through hustling; a not-truly-bourgeois bourgeoisie—now mark the world around us.
Brazil, the “born-modern” former colony, is not a society that emerged out of feudal relations, nor one that announced its own birth through a revolutionary break with the past. Instead, it was a site of production and distribution, first and foremost.
Writing in the early 1940s, the great Brazilian historian Caio Prado Jr. analyzed the colonial form of contemporary Brazil, remarking upon the efficiency of the colonial order as an organization of production combined with a sterility with respect to higher-level social relations—all economy, no culture. What defined a modern periphery molded by colonialism was therefore a “lack of a moral nexus,” that complex of human institutions that maintain individuals linked and united in a society and that weld them into a cohesive and compact whole. If we already hear echoes of the contemporary neoliberal disaggregation of society here, it is not by chance.
Historically, the Brazilian “quasi-society of the mercantile vanguard” was conditioned by the place of freemen in a society of landed elites and slaves. Thus in eighteenth- and nineteenth-century Brazil, we find the generalized practice of the favor, or “quasi-universal mediation,” as identified by Schwarz in the novels of Machado de Assis. In a world of slaveholders and slaves, poor freemen depended on favors from the owner class to survive. Rather than citizens endowed with rights, freemen had to hustle to be granted the patronage of the propertied class. Already we can see the seeds of Brazilian patronage and clientelism.
While the world of ideas and institutions held to modern liberal conceptions, what obtained in reality was not a rationally ordered society but one governed by the arbitrary decisions of the wealthy—a situation in which the elite naturally benefited, but so did the freemen, confirmed in their status as beneficiaries of favor, as not-slaves. This nexus of the favor, overlaid with liberal ideology, has all the conditions for systematic hypocrisy: highfalutin liberal ideas justifying caprice and venality. Or to apply this relationship to the Brazilianized United States of today, and to put it in the parlance of our age: “information wants to be free,” but not if it violates “community standards” or doesn’t suit the oligarchy’s interests.
In a similar vein, Schwarz discusses another central element in Brazilian subjectivity, the “dialectic of the malandro” (trickster), a concept advanced by Antonio Candido in his reading of eighteenth-century novels. In Schwarz’s reading, the dialectic of malandragem entails the suspension of concrete historical conflicts through cleverness or practical know-how—in effect, a sort of evasion. This was linked to a “very Brazilian attitude, of ‘corrosive tolerance,’ which originates in the Colony and lasts through the 20th century, and which becomes a main thread in our culture.” Here we find the often-lauded Brazilian disposition towards accommodation, rather than all-or-nothing conflict. This attitude may seem inferior to the more puritanical values of North Atlantic capitalist society, of clear yeses and noes, of decisive condemnation (Schwarz references the Salem Witch Trials and the world of The Scarlet Letter). But, for Schwarz, it might be precisely this attitude that could facilitate Brazil’s insertion into a more “open” world. What emerges is an image of a “world without guilt.”12
This softening of conflicts is a pattern throughout Brazilian history, in which it is rare for matters to be definitively resolved. No great bourgeois revolution, no clean breaks with the past; the new eventually vanquishes the old at the cost of incorporating the old into the new. Brazil’s re-democratization in the 1980s, for example, birthed a new constitution replete with social rights that promised excluded classes a greater degree of integration than comparable documents elsewhere. At the same time, however, it guaranteed old patrimonial elites their place in the new order, and failed to neuter the military brass. The consequences are all too evident today. Indeterminacy and irresolution rule. Or, in the Brazilian idiom, tudo acaba em pizza: it all ends in pizza.13
This “world without guilt”—a world without moral dramas, without convictions or remorse—is our postmodern world writ large. The new global elite is entirely désembourgeoisée; there are no fixed and hard rules, everything is up for negotiation. Morality is at most an individual, subjective matter, if not a cause for embarrassment; the elite prefer the empty avowals of corporate ethics nowadays, not moral pronouncements. Morality is no longer the keystone of paternal, social authority. The postmodern elite feels no responsibility. It has not internalized the law, and thus feels no guilt.
In the world of work, adaptation and accommodation are key in the new economy. As a contractor (not an employee), you must constantly seek to please your client. For Arantes, the “professionalism” required today is nothing more than a cynical stylization of the qualities needed for survival in a precarious world. As for the Brazilian malandro, or trickster, there is no higher commandment today than to “respect the hustle.” What might otherwise be seen as generalized opportunism—or, in nineteenth-century Brazil, poor freemen out in search of a “favor”—is recast as the new way of the world.
Notably, the anthropologist Loïc Wacquant finds a similar attitude in the ghettoes of North America. There, the hustler is a generic type, “unobtrusively inserting himself into social situations or in spinning about him a web of deceitful relations, just so that he may derive some more or less extorted profit from them.” (The opposite to the hustler is formal wage labor, taken to be “legal, recognized, regular and regulated.”14) This attitude is no longer restricted to the ghetto, but becomes the ideal subjectivity of the neoliberal “entrepreneur of the self.”
Always Already Postmodern
It is here that the Brazilian past encounters a global contemporaneity. For Ulrich Beck, Brazilianization represents a doomed future, not just of social exclusion and savage capitalism, but also the end of the state’s monopoly on violence, the emergence of powerful non-state actors, criminal gangs, etc. Yet Beck also finds something positive in Brazilian attitudes: flexibility, tolerance, adaptability to new situations, acceptance of the paradoxes of life with tranquility. “Why do we accept the pluralization of the family but not the pluralization of work?” Beck wrote. Perhaps Brazilians, many of whom have yet to fully encounter the “first modernity” of full employment, lifelong careers, and so on (i.e., Fordism), were already born compatible with the “second modernity” of flexibility (post-Fordism, postmodernity).
If classical and high modernity were about security, certainty, and clear demarcations between yes and no, postmodernity is governed by the risk regime, in which know-how and adaptation is king. The Brazilian malandro was already an expert in this world, well in advance of its arrival. Perhaps this explains the surprising popularity in Brazil of Polish theorist Zygmunt Bauman’s books on “liquid modernity,” “liquid love” and so on—stocked even by street-corner newsdealers in São Paulo.
Thus it is that a country lacking a true bourgeois-revolutionary foundation, and therefore historically lacking respect for the law, lacking citizenship and even guilt, comes face-to-face with our postbourgeois twenty-first-century capitalism. In this light, even the United States or France, countries that did undergo dramatic bourgeois revolutions, seem afflicted by a Brazilian-style irresolution and muddling-through. We need only think of the inane response to the global financial crisis in the United States, bailing out banks but leaving the structural conditions that led to the crisis untouched; a fortiori, we can think of the eurozone’s continual kicking the can down the road, which Wolfgang Streeck has called “buying time.”
The Brazilian style also comes to serve as a useful legitimation for the new capitalism, in which hypocrisy and corruption are part of the furniture. Is not the promiscuous alternation between licit and illicit—found equally among the Brazilian poor (see Paulo Lins’s City of God) as among the rich (who have one foot in “clean” global capitalism and another in “dirty” local patrimonialism)—not a cipher for financialization’s grey legality? Consider, for instance, the vast sums originating from the drug trade that are recycled by the world’s top banks. The Panama Papers were of course met with a collective shrug; nothing changed. But what are you gonna do? Is this not precisely a very Brazilian “corrosive tolerance”?
Cynicism and the Death of Satire
As is to be expected, tolerance of corruption and indeterminacy breeds cynicism. In classic-modern Europe, irony would serve to demonstrate how economic interests hid behind liberal ideals. In Brazil, by contrast, where infractions were the rule, irony could not have recourse to liberal norms, because of liberalism’s embrace of its supposed opposite: slavery. As Caux and Catalani argue, what developed in Brazil was a sort of negative irony, more morbid than satirical.
Is this not our situation today? The death of satire has been widely remarked upon. We cannot show how reality fails to live up to ideals, because we mistrust ideals, holding them to be always ideological; that is, concealing selfish interests. A figure like Trump was an encapsulation of this new post-satirical attitude: a man holding the most powerful office in the world incorporated a satirical representation of himself in his buffoonery (in this he was merely following the path forged by Silvio Berlusconi over two decades earlier). Trump basically said he was corrupt, but so were all the others, and so it would be he, with no concern for establishment niceties, that would drain the swamp.15 Cynicism is pervasive, only interrupted—now perhaps more frequently—by moralistic denunciation. The latter is sustained on the basis that opposition to cynicism can be inscribed in the logic of culture wars: each side’s ever more hysterical condemnations serve to obscure their own cynicism.
Here Brazil provides us with another example. The June 2013 mass protest wave was an uprising of the young precariat, demanding social rights, better schools and hospitals, and an end to corruption. This can be read as a protest against indeterminacy, against corrosive tolerance: “we won’t take it anymore.” Brazil had experienced a decade of growth, but the public sphere had not kept pace with improvements in private spending power. The Lula strategy of “inclusion through consumption,” itself a response to an earlier period of indeterminacy after the neoliberal assault under Cardoso, had met a wall, leading to a mass public explosion.
By 2015, however, protests had shifted, becoming explicitly anti-political and denouncing any and all politicians, parties, and institutions. “Anti-corruption” became their focus, urged on by the spectacular “Lava Jato” investigations that saw politicians and businessmen led off in handcuffs for the first time in Brazil’s history. It was on this wave that Bolsonaro was eventually elected in 2018. But anti-politics, in refusing to seize power in the name of an idea and instead only denouncing all comers, is in essence politicized cynicism. It believes the establishment isn’t fit to rule, but admits that no one else is, either. Over time, it turned out that Lava Jato itself was corrupt, with collusion between judge and prosecution allowing former president Lula to be found guilty on shoddy evidence. Now the old corrupt establishment, of which Bolsonaro is a part, has conspired to shut down those investigations.
Thus the June 2013 “revolt against cynicism” ended up contributing to the most cynical denouement of all. It has all ended in pizza. These are the “elements of truncation that fed Brazilian self-irony, sometimes caustic, but always based in fact,” as de Oliveira had earlier put it.16 America’s own advances in lawfare (not just in supporting the judges’ crusade in Brazil, but in using these methods at home), from “lock her up” to the double impeachment of Trump, are another facet of Brazilianization. In the place of ideological competition, politics is reduced to the cynical game of pursuing victory through the courts. Legal scruple conceals unscrupulousness. The result is the judicialization of politics—and the politicization of the judiciary. Politics becomes ever more remote from the people.
A Nonnational Elite
The Brazilianization of the world leads to a generalization of indeterminacy and irresolution. Neoliberal capitalism, in its decadence, can’t find a way past its crisis, and its opponents are too divided, too cynical, too disbelieving that things could really change. This is Mark Fisher’s capitalist realism: not just the assertion that “there is no alternative,” but the inability to even conceive of one. It’s not just that reality does not and cannot match our ideals; it’s that we disbelieve in ideals altogether. And this is precisely because political ideas seem complicit with our corrupt reality. Ideas are out of place everywhere now. Like Brazil, the Western world as a whole not only lives with the frustration that we do not have the future that was promised us; frustration has become constitutive of our social formation itself.
In Brazil, the same ruling class that profited from colonialism, slavery, and the latifundiary system was also the one that backed the 1964 coup so as to prevent workers from gaining any more of a foothold in society, an act that thereby also stopped the country’s chance at national autonomy. Elites preferred dependency and submission to international capital and to the United States. As a result, they also missed what may have been the last entry ramp to catch-up development. Later, when faced with a belated (albeit limited) attempt at incorporation of the masses in the 2000s and 2010s under Workers Party (PT) governments—which might have created a larger and more prosperous internal market and, crucially for elites, bought social peace—they decided instead to kick the PT out of office through an institutional coup. This constitutional rupture was part of a chain of events that saw Lula, leading the polls in the run-up to the 2018 election, arrested, charged, and sentenced in a hasty and prejudiced trial. The same elite that cheered on lawfare then found it faced a “difficult choice” in the 2018 runoff between a technocratic center-left candidate (the PT’s Haddad) and a sociopathic former army captain. Given the country’s natural bounty, its admired and widely shared culture (despite everything), and some of the fastest growth rates in the world over decades, when we look upon Brazil’s dualized society today—this monstrous platypus—we are driven to conclude that Brazil has the worst elite in the world.
The Brazilian elite, however—famously living in gated condominiums with private security guards—is merely a more grotesque version of elites in “advanced Western democracies.” The disavowal of responsibility for society finds its most outré example in Peter Thiel’s seasteading. But this process is much more widely distributed, and depersonalized, across the West.
When Brazil’s ruling class opts for diminished sovereignty in order to maintain their dominant position amid deep inequality, we should see its mirror image in the European Union. The regional bloc is best understood as an “economic constitution” which is devised to prevent politics from interfering with market regulation, thus locking in policy choices. When national elites opt for membership in the bloc—in spite of the EU’s neoliberal death spiral—they trade away national autonomy and with it political responsibility for social outcomes.
Just look at Italian elites’ desperation to remain part of euro, despite the penury to which it subjects the country and the destruction of any future for it. Just as Brazilian elites wish they could permanently decamp to Miami, for long the capital of Latin American reaction, so globalized elites in Europe and North America wish they too could escape the masses that “hold them back.” Italian elites wish they were German, British “Remainers” do likewise, and American liberal elites wish they were “European”—or at least that America’s flyover country might disappear.
Nowhere (except perhaps in China) do we find ruling elites pursuing any sort of “national project”—something that thereby implicates, and aims to integrate, the masses. Insofar as neoliberal elites have any project, beyond short-term crisis management and government-by-media, it is always anti-national. Brazilian president Fernando Henrique Cardoso, who sold off state-owned family jewels to investors at cut prices in the 1990s, had been right all along: the national bourgeoisie cannot be relied upon.
From Deindustrialization to the Death of the State
The growing disappearance of a “moral nexus” in contemporary society is intimately tied to what we should call the end of modernization. We are living, according to the late German Marxist Robert Kurz (widely cited by both Schwarz and Arantes), in post-catastrophic societies. In The Collapse of Modernization, written at the very end of the Cold War, Kurz scathingly criticizes the regimes of the Eastern bloc. For him, their perpetuation of commodity production and wages meant that they were not communist societies, but instead were akin to the state capitalist regimes that were essential to kicking off capitalist accumulation in the transition from feudalism to capitalism, as well as to drive late industrialization—such as the projects carried out by Bismarck in the nineteenth century, or under the Meiji Restoration in Japan, or indeed by Korea in the twentieth century. By the mid-twentieth century, however, the state apparatus of really existing socialism had fulfilled its purpose of collectivizing agriculture, creating an urban proletariat, driving industrialization, and the like. And so it fell behind Western capitalist societies organized on the more productive basis of competition, rather than bureaucratic diktat.
The crisis that came to a head at the end of the 1980s in the East, therefore, was merely the second episode of a more general crisis—one that had hit the South, the old Third World, first. The debt crises marked the end of the process of modernization, through which poor countries might have hoped to catch up with developed ones. By the late 1960s, Brazil’s experiment with Fordism was already waning, and with it the possibility of integrating the masses through labor. “Premature” deindustrialization marked Brazil in subsequent decades, with industry’s share of GDP falling by half since its 1985 peak, and share of employment down from over 15 percent to around 10 percent today. Brazil is now primarily a service economy, with the poor in urban peripheries offered little hope of ascent through the means previously available to the western European and North American working classes: stable employment and with it the leverage that it might offer against employers.
This is not, however, an automatic process; it requires political action. Brazil’s corporatist labor regulations had survived neoliberalism, until the PT were thrown out by institutional coup in 2016. The resulting interim government, whose approval ratings hit a rock bottom of 1 percent, rapidly undid them, allowing for infinite outsourcing, even of a company’s core activities, thereby significantly extending the casualization of labor already underway. We needn’t look far to see similar moves afoot elsewhere. The recent passing of California’s Proposition 22 (the most expensive ballot initiative in history) allows companies like the never-to-be-profitable Uber to continue classifying their employees as private contractors, disobliging them from providing any employment benefits. The company, like many others of its kind, is a “bezzle”—John Kenneth Galbraith’s name for legalized larceny. Again, the illicit and licit are two sides of the same coin; it is in these gray spaces where the hustler flourishes.
The attack on labor rights goes hand in hand with a crisis of valorization. As contemporary capitalism struggles to profit from productive activity, it turns to financialization. Fewer and fewer workers in the West are involved in economic activity that is productive of new value. This crisis of the society of work, or modernization through formalized work, began in the Third World, then hit the Second World, and is now with us in the First World. And with it the dream of mass affluence, national autonomy, and an integrated society withers.
If colonial Brazil, a society based around naked economic extraction, was at the vanguard of capitalism, contemporary Brazil is now at the vanguard of the crisis of modernity. Brazilianization is not the act of becoming backward. Nor is it the importation of something foreign. Rather, Brazil merely expressed earlier the forms and tendencies of social development that are immanent to the social world of rich countries.
The truly doom-laden future that Brazil has in store for us is the collapse of state authority. While the drug trafficking gangs that control territory in the favelas and peripheries are well known, less so is the growth of the milícias, paramilitaries formed by off-duty cops who run extortion rackets and death squads. The rise of non-state actors has been a preoccupation since the age of high globalization and the War on Terror. But the diminution of sovereignty is not just a problem “over there,” in the failed states of the Global South. Less violent and more legalized, the negotiations between U.S. city governments and big tech companies, as if the latter were sovereign entities, tells a similar tale.
The Brazilianization of the World
Modernization everywhere meant the destruction of old feudal vestiges in the countryside, urbanization, and the incorporation of the masses through formalized work in an industrializing society. This process would generalize wealth and citizenship—or at least, it would form an urban proletariat who would fight for these rights, gaining concessions and thereby disciplining elites. It would root out patrimonial and clientelist relationships. Politics would become more regularized, ordered along ideological lines, with salutary effects on the state and its bureaucracy—at least in the most advanced countries.
The undoing of modernization through its principal process—the coming apart of formal employment and of the rise of precaritization—is the root of the whole phenomenon of “Brazilianization”: growing inequality, oligarchy, the privatization of wealth and social space, and a declining middle class. Its spatial, urban dimension is its most visible manifestation, with the development of gentrified city centers and the excluded pushed to the periphery.
In political terms, Brazilianization means patrimonialism, clientelism, and corruption. Rather than see these as aberrations, we should understand them as the normal state of politics when widely shared economic progress is not available, and the socialist Left cannot act as a countervailing force. It was the industrial proletariat and socialist politics that kept liberalism honest, and prevented elites from instrumentalizing the state for their own interests.
The “revolt of the elites”—their escape from society, physically into heavily guarded private spaces, economically into the realm of global finance, politically into anti-democratic arrangements that outsource responsibility and inhibit accountability—has created hollowed-out neoliberal states. These are polities closed to popular pressures but open to those with the resources and networks to directly influence politics. The practical consequence is not just corruption, but also states lacking the capacity to undertake any long-range developmental policies—even basic ones that might advance economic growth, such as the easing of regional inequalities. State failure in the pandemic is only the most flagrant recent example.
Brazil’s ignoble history of irresolution and indeterminacy, coupled with a dualized society in which hustling is essential to survival, gave birth to Brazilian cynicism. Increasingly, the West is coming to ape this same pattern. Not only does there seem to be no way past capitalist stagnation, but politics is characterized by a void between people and politics, citizens and the state. The ruling class’s relation to the masses is one of condescension. Elites call anyone who revolts against the contemporary order racist, sexist, or some other delegitimizing term. They also advance outlandish conspiracy theories for why electorates have failed to vote for their favored candidate—most visibly with “Russiagate” in the United States and beyond. This phenomenon, dubbed Neoliberal Order Breakdown Syndrome, only breeds further cynicism in Western publics, who are increasingly taken with conspiracy theories of their own. This is another Brazilian speciality: in a country with very low levels of institutional trust and plentiful examples of actual conspiracies, conspiracy theories flourish.
Revolts against the establishment, when they aren’t driven by QAnon-style derangement, wield the weapon of anti-politics, whereby not only formal politics, but representation and political authority itself are rejected. Anti-politics tends to result in either a delegitimation of democracy itself, leading to authoritarian rule, or it prompts technocrats to learn from populists, returning to the scene promising an end to corruption and real change. The result is the same sort of distant, out-of-touch politics that prompted anti-political revolts in the first place. Brazil’s history from 2013 to 2019 is this dynamic presented in pure, crystallized form. But the same pattern is visible in Italy’s Five-Star Movement, the anti-corruption protests that led to Viktor Orbán’s ascent in Hungary, Trump, and Boris Johnson’s technopopulist attempt to defuse Brexit.
Society of the Void
What might the response to Brazilianization look like? Perhaps we are seeing a movement towards a more protective state, more jealous in its guarding of sovereignty and eager to offer citizens a more paternal relationship. Clearly, the pandemic seems to be pushing things in this direction, with state support and direct cash transfers to citizens marking President Biden’s first months in office. But the state is transforming in other ways too. Straitened conditions for profitability appear to be leading to an ever-greater interlinking of political and economic power, furthering a process that has been called “accumulation by dispossession.” Even Robert Brenner, doyen of the study of the transition from feudalism to capitalism, has hinted that we may be undergoing a transition from capitalism to something else entirely.
The high point of globalization, in economic relations as well as ideology, has already passed. But the dualization of society and the “flexibilization” of labor continues apace. No doubt, “revolting elites” may conclude things will only get worse from here and seek to shelter themselves even further from social consequences. Not only that, but the growing dualization of societies across the West creates a society of the void: the void between the winners of the new economy and the rest, and the void between the state and citizens. Fears of populism, complaints about bureaucratic incompetence, lack of leadership, and general political volatility and incoherence—things that concern economic elites—are symptoms of this void. They would do well to remember this.
It is here that the debate over neo-feudalism comes into view, with its four interlocking features, which bear resemblance to Brazilianization: parceled sovereignty, new lords and peasants, hinterlandization, and catastrophism. But the argument advanced here is that what we are seeing is precisely not a return of the old. It is the expression of tendencies immanent to capitalist modernity. To see the globalization of degraded social conditions and capitalist dependence on the state—features that have long been a reality in the global periphery—as a return to “feudalism” is not only misguided but Eurocentric. Nevertheless, if we are indeed living through the end of the society of work and its accompanying modernization, with the inevitable consequences for social and political integration, then capitalism will be more reliant than ever on the state—not just for regulation and the provision of physical and legal infrastructure, but to participate directly in the extraction of value or the guaranteeing of profits, be it through the transference of wealth upwards or the creation of artificial scarcity.
Is this a stable arrangement? Brazil’s unceasing turbulence since 2013 began with Brazilians becoming sick of mere “inclusion through consumption.” It is clear that our contemporary drift cannot continue indefinitely. Cash transfers may buy elites time, just as private debt-fueled consumption did for the last few decades, while wages stagnated. But the post-pandemic world will not settle down; Brazilianized state failures in the richest and most powerful countries in the world are laid bare for everyone to see. At the End of the End of History, protests, revolts, and uprisings have become a global phenomenon, perhaps presaging a more general insurrection. Denunciation of elites will not be enough; seizing collective control of our destiny, taking responsibility for our future, will be required, lest another wave of popular agitation all end in pizza.
This article originally appeared in American Affairs Volume V, Number 2 (Summer 2021): 93–115.

1 Douglas Coupland, Generation X: Tales for an Accelerated Culture(New York: St. Martin’s, 1991).

2 See, for instance, Ulrich Beck, The Brave New World of Work, trans. Patrick Camiller (Cambridge: Polity, 2010).
3 Leonardo Belinelli, “O marxismo e as interpretações do Brasil: o caso do Seminário d’O Capital,” III Semana de Ciência Política UFSCar—Democracia, Conflito e Desenvolvimento na América Latina.
4 Roberto Schwarz, Misplaced Ideas: Essays on Brazilian Culture (London: Verso, 1992).
5 Adrian Johnston, Žižek’s Ontology: A Transcendental Materialist Theory of Subjectivity (Evanston, Ill.: Northwestern University Press, 2008).
6 Luiz Philipe de Caux and Felipe Catalani, “A passagem do dois ao zero: dualidade e desintegração no pensamento dialético brasileiro (Paulo Arantes, leitor de Roberto Schwarz),” Revista do Instituto de Estudos Brasileiros, n. 74 (2019): 119–46. Author’s own translation, emphasis added.
7 Paulo Arantes, “A fratura brasileira do mundo,” in Zero à esquerda (São Paulo: Conrad, 2004).
8 Francisco de Oliveira, Crítica à razão dualista/O ornitorrinco (São Paulo: Boitempo, 2003).
9 Francisco de Oliveira, “The Duckbilled Playtpus,” New Left Review no. 24 (Nov./Dec. 2003).
10 Roberto Schwarz, “Prefácio com perguntas,” in Francisco de Oliveria, ed., Crítica à razão dualista/O ornitorrinco (Boitempo, 2003).
11 Francisco de Oliveira, “The Duckbilled Playtpus.”
12 Roberto Schwarz, “Pressupostos, salvo engano, de ‘dialética da malandragem,’” in Que horas são? (São Paulo: Companhia das Letras, 1987).
13 The origin of the idiom merits a story on its own. The bosses of Palmeiras football club in São Paulo, a historically Italian-descendant club, had an almighty row, requiring a fourteen-hour meeting to resolve. At some point, eighteen large pizzas were ordered, along with beer and wine. After feasting, tensions were resolved and they managed to come to a big messy compromise. It all ends in pizza.
14 Loïc Wacquant, “America as Social Dystopia” and “Inside the Zone,” in Pierre Bourdieu, et al., The Weight of the World: Social Suffering in Contemporary Society (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1999).
15 There’s a similarity here with a former dictatorship-era São Paulo governor and mayor, Paulo Maluf, who ran on the slogan rouba mas faz (he steals but he gets things done). Contemporary populists wishing to call out the hypocrisy of liberal technocrats, while justifying their own corruption, should take note!
16 Francisco de Oliveira, “O adeus do futuro ao país do futuro: uma biografia breve do Brasil,” in Brasil, uma biografia não autorizada (São Paulo: Boitempo, 2018).

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