by Glenn Greenwald, The Intercept, January 2019
A dramatic, multi-level, and increasingly dark scandal has been engulfing the Brazilian presidency of Jair Bolsonaro for the last month. It began just weeks after his stunning November victory but before he was inaugurated on January 1, and has completely paralyzed his presidency ever since. Just this week in Davos, where Brazil planned to unveil its new face to foreign capital, Bolsonaro and his top ministers left a long-scheduled press conference empty to avoid answering questions about any of this, causing empty chairs abandoned by fear — rather than vibrant, investor-friendly policies — to be the face of the new government.
But two recent events have converted what looked to be a classic scandal of money laundering and kickbacks into something much more ominous and terrifying. Earlier this week, Rio de Janeiro police arrested five members of Brazil’s most dangerous militia, one linked to the 2018 assassination of City Council Member Marielle Franco of the left-wing PSOL party. As it turned out, Flávio Bolsonaro formally praised two of the leading members of that militia; gave an award to the militia’s chief; and, most astonishingly of all, kept the mother and the daughter of the militia chief on his payroll for the last 10 years.
That the Bolsonaro family has been discovered to have such close and intimate ties with militias, including the one involved in Franco’s brutal assassination, stunned the country.Click To Tweet
Authoritarians will trust their leaders no matter what they say, and distrust whomever the leader says to distrust. They are highly fearful of the world at-large around them.
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