Monday, August 3, 2020

How Covert CIA Operations Helped Lead Brazil Into Its Current Fascist Nightmare

Like so many other countries during the age of late-stage capitalism, Brazil has slipped into a dystopia. The record Amazon fires caused by Jair Bolsonaro’s pro-corporate policies and the indigenous genocide caused by Bolsonaro’s disregard for tribal sovereignty have been just the beginning of the horrors. In the first year or so after Bolsonaro became president, the country’s social safety net has been dismantled to catastrophic effect.

This February, Brazilian writer Eric Nepomuceno wrote that “Bolsonaro has destroyed Brazil in 400 days,” lamenting the rapid destruction of the country’s educational system, the mass unemployment as a result of Bolsonaro’s neoliberal policies, and the relentless emptying of the country’s decades-old social programs. It was right after then that Covid-19 reached the country-at which point these austerity measures, combined with Bolsonaro’s blatant pandemic denial, made Brazil into one of the most impacted countries in the world.

As time goes on, the situation gets worse and worse. Brazil is now at over 94 thousand Covid-19 deaths amid a pandemic fatality spiral that appears to still be accelerating. The inequality that Bolsonaro has so greatly exacerbated is making poor and indigenous communities suffer vastly disproportionately to the country’s increasingly entitled elites. Bolsonaro has been mobilizing his supporters to threaten violence against officials who seek to defend Brazil’s democratic institutions, and Bolsonaro’s administration has been demonizing demonstrators as “terrorists” while threatening military repression.

All of the death and suffering that’s resulting from Bolsonaro’s regime is part of the cost of preserving U.S. imperialist hegemony over Latin America. We know this not just because of the ways that Bolsonaro has helped Washington militarily threaten Venezuela, or because Bolsonaro’s election was immediately celebrated by the U.S.-centered corporatocracy, but because there’s evidence that the CIA directly helped get him elected in 2018.

In October of 2018, during the last weeks before the election, Marcelo Zero of Brasil Wire wrote that “it seems obvious that there is a finger — or an entire hand — of foreign intelligence agencies at work, mainly North American, in the Brazilian elections. The modus operandi shown in this final stretch is identical to that used in other countries and requires technical and financial resources and a level of manipulative sophistication that the Bolsonaro campaign does not seem to have on its own. The CIA and other agencies are here, acting in an extensive manner.” The factors that prompted this observation pertain to the ways that information surrounding the election paralleled past U.S.-led propaganda campaigns.

When Zero wrote this, pro-Bolsonaro propaganda was flooding Brazil in ways that made foreign meddling clear. Bolsonaro’s political opponents were being targeted with an intensive campaign of disinformation and slander. Lies were being disseminated about Brazil’s Workers’ Party, such as the claim that the party had distributed “erotic baby bottles” to children in the São Paulo public pre-school system. As Zero pointed out, these efforts to manipulate public opinion were too far-reaching and well-coordinated to simply come from the Bolsonaro campaign.

Zero’s conclusion about foreign intelligence agents being behind these disinformation efforts was at the time supported only by speculations. But these speculations lined up with the past CIA disinformation campaigns that have been proven to be real, and that have often involved attempts to sway an election in favor of a pro-Washington candidate.

In his essay A Timeline of CIA Atrocities, Steve Kangas listed “false stories about opponents in the local media” as one of the methods the agency has used throughout its numerous political interventions in Latin America. The slanders directed at Bolsonaro’s opponents also parallel the lies that other branches of the Washington imperialist propaganda machine have used; the strategic disinformation that Radio Free Europe used during the Cold War and the lies that Voice of America told to locals during the Tiananmen Square conflict come to mind.

The CIA’s role behind why the Brazilian media normalized the far-right during that moment in history, and why all of the disinformation was propagated, has been made more apparent from just how close Bolsonaro’s ties to the CIA have since been revealed to be. In March 2019, Bolsonaro paid a visit to the CIA headquarters, a move that former Foreign Minister Celso Amorim described as unprecedented: “No Brazilian president had ever paid a visit to the CIA, this is an explicitly submissive position. Nothing compares to this.”

Of course, a materialist analysis of how Brazil got to this point must take into account all the country’s internal risk factors for fascism in 2018, which didn’t originate from the CIA or even from the U.S. itself. Brazil’s descent into fascism was nurtured by its own capitalist crises. The Workers’ Party, enamored with liberalism, refused to enact the social changes necessary to bring about socialism, instead taking a route of class reconciliation and bolstering the national bourgeois government with tax breaks and government loans. The ruling class repaid their kindness by taking them down in a parliamentary coup, and by coming to largely back the extreme right candidate due to his being a more reliable partner in enacting neoliberal policies.

Washington took advantage of this weakness within Brazil’s bourgeois democracy to help bring a fascist to power. The country’s media was willing to legitimize Bolsonaro not just because of the CIA’s influence, but because of the dark direction that capitalism-and thus the capitalist media-had been going in. The country was undergoing a crisis in government corruption, a years-long economic crisis, and rising crime rates due to social inequality. To keep up profits, the country’s capitalist class needed the radical solution of Bolsonaro’s unchained neoliberalism, and the country’s people came to largely desire a “law and order” candidate like him. So he was allowed to win with the help of a deliberately complicit media.

But the role of covert U.S. operations in electing Bolsonaro can’t be disregarded. As the deadly consequences of last November’s U.S.-orchestrated fascist coup in Bolivia become increasingly apparent to the world, let’s also recognize that Brazil is experiencing the fallout from its own U.S. coup, one that took place a year before the one in Bolivia. This coup was only subtler and more dependent on the country’s internal class contradictions.

The CIA hoped the world wouldn’t notice or remember what it did in Brazil. But the more people suffer and die because of Bolsonaro’s destructive regime, the more we should pay attention to the machinations of the CIA and of U.S. imperialism in general. They have a bigger hand in perpetuating global state violence than it might appear on the surface.

— — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — —

If you appreciate my work, I hope you become a one-time or regular donor to my Patreon account. Like most of us, I’m feeling the economic pinch during late-stage capitalism, and I need money to keep fighting for a new system that works for all of us. Go to my Patreon here:

No comments:

Post a Comment