In some cases the sensationalist press wound up fabricating supposedly dangerous bandits to be duly pursued by police. Among innumerable examples, we can cite David Nasser of the program “Diary of a Reporter,” who called members of the death squad “… the missionaries of General Franca (then state public security secretary), the “public-works contractors of God.” … Red Rosa, the public relations voice of the Rio de Janeiro death squad, once phoned a newsroom in order to announce the weekly death toll and confessed as follows: “I get an almost sexual pleasure from watching the bullets pierce the bodies of the criminals and the blood flowing like a red rose flowering out of the earth.” –“A History of Death Squads in Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo”
Besta Fubana laments the “fall of an idol” with the arrest of Brazilian federal district legislator Geraldo Naves in the “Pandora’s Box” bribery and kickback scandal that has decimated the district government in the last three months.
Federal intervention has been proposed, something that has not happened since the Vargas dictatorship, when a general was sent in to restore order after gun battles broke out on the floor of the Pernambuco state legislature. Or was it Alagoas? Checking.
Naves (DEM) is accused of playing a role in the attempted bribery of “Edson the Shadow,” the journalist who encouraged the governor’s right-hand man, Durval Barbosa (DEM), to turn state’s evidence against his boss (DEM) — and who apparently arranged for the leaking of the videos secretly recorded by Barbosa for the federal police to the national media.
Out of all the threads in this byzantine affair that need detailed follow-up, I am drawn to Naves because he represents an archetypal character in the drama of traditional Brazilian politics: An electronically enhanced lightning rod for the cathartic moral indignation of the mass audience, one who leverages that cathartic power into a career as a populist politician.
Press observers here call this phenomenon “Electronic Colonelism,” in reference to the rural coroneis who dominated the political scene practically since the first colonial capitanias. Not all that different from Kentucky colonels, with caipirinhas in hand instead of juleps.
Like Datena here in São Paulo or Wagner Montes in Rio de Janeiro — or a host of other examples all over the country — Naves used the bully pulpit of a television program — aired by TV Brasília, a TV station owned by the vice-governor of the state — to celebrate the violent repression of “marginals” and the catharsis of summary justice.
You can think of it as “lynch mob journalism,” or a version of C.O.P.S. without the disclaimer solemnly intoned as “Bad Boys” skanks us off the air: “All suspects are innocent until proven guilty in a court of LAW …”
It is a sight to see.
The show was called Barra Pesada — how to translate? Something like “heavy duty.”
A really, really bad neighborhood is barra pesada, as is any hairy, dangerous or overwhelmingly hinky, freaky, crooked or mobbed-up situation. A barra pesada gives off a bad vibe. That sort of thing.
The militias of Rio de Janeiro, for example, are superduper barra pesada: they have been known to off one another over delivering the captive vote of the shantytowns they dominate to this or the other candidate.
One theory of the assassination of Police Inspector Tostes of Rio, for example — head of the militia in Rio das Pedras, a decorated top aide to the state police chief, and a fugitive at the time his death from charges of coordinating payoffs to subordinates by gambling rackets — is that he was killed for breaking an agreement to deliver the area’s votes to Rodrigo Maia (DEM), son of ex-mayor Cesar Maia (DEM) and currently chairman of the national Democratic (DEM) party. (Another theory was a “burning of the archives” lest the Inspector be arrested and decide to roll over. A sinister episode.)
Um grande ídolo meu acaba de ruir por terra. Chama-se ele Geraldo Naves, apresentador do antigo programa Barra Pesada na Tv Brasília, de segunda a sexta-feira, no horário de 18 a 19 horas. Vinha logo após o Chaves, no SBT, que continuo curtindo, quando passa, não importa o quanto cada capítulo é repetido.
The blogger at “Besta Fubana” writes:
A major idol of mine has crashed and burned. His name is Geraldo Naves, host of the old Barra Pesada show on TV Brasília, which aired Monday through Friday from 6:00 to 7:00 p.m. It came on right after Chaves, on SBT, which I still watch when it’s on, no matter how many times I’ve seen the rerun.
Barrada Pesada não dava colher de chá pra fiofó de meliante não! Era pau nos muquiranas, cacete nos contraventores!
Barra Pesada was no tea party for asshole criminal scum! It was put a beatdown on the lousy bastards, go upside the head on those bandits!
Para mim, Barra Pesada e Geraldo Naves se confundiam. Um era o outro, e o outro era o um!
To me, Barra Pesada was Geraldo Naves.
As autoridades constituídas chegaram até a mudá-lo para mais tarde, tantas eram as cenas chocantes que apresentava. Isso porque julgaram as matérias muito pesadas para a faixa de horário considerada de classificação livre. Para ter-se uma ideia do seu conteúdo, bastam estas manchetes que retirei do blog do apresentador na Internet:
The powers that be even moved the show to a later hour because of the many shocking scenes it aired. They thought the reports he did were too heavy-duty for a G-rated time slot. To give you an idea of the content, here are some headlines I pulled off Geraldo’s blog:
RAPAZ É MORTO A TIROS EM PLANALTINA
HOMEM É PRESO APÓS ARROMBAR VEÍCULOS NA ASA NORTE
ASSALTANTES DE CASA NO RECANTO DAS EMAS SÃO PRESOS
PCDF DESVENDA LATROCÍNIO PRATICADO POR ADOLESCENTES
DRR APREENDE 11 TIJOLOS DE MACONHA EM LAVA-JATO
HOMEM É ESFAQUEADO E MORRE APÓS BRIGA NA CEILÂNDIA
NETO GOLPEIA AVÓ COM CHAVE DE FENDA
PRESA APÓS EXTORQUIR FAMÍLIA DE DESAPARECIDO
HOMEM ATROPELADO NA BR-070
YOUNG MAN SHOT TO DEATH IN PLANALTINA
MAN ARRESTED BREAKING INTO CARS IN THE NORTH WING
Brasília is shaped like an airplane.
BUSTED, HOUSEBREAKERS IN RECANTO DAS EMAS
“A ema gemeu no tronco do juremá …“
POLICE BUST TEENAGE THIEVES
NARC SQUAD SEIZES 11 BRICKS OF POT AT CAR WASH
MAN STABBED TO DEATH IN FIGHT
KID STABS HIS GRANDFATHER WITH SCREWDRIVER
WOMAN ARRESTED FOR EXTORTING FAMILY OF MISSING PERSON
MAN RUN DOWN ON HIGHWAY BR-070
Enfim, o Barra Pesada oferecia um panorama completo de todos os acontecimentos policiais da noite anterior.
In short, Barra Pesada offered a complete rundown of all the police incidents from the night before.
E havia as reportagens que se destacavam pelo exotismo ou gravidade dos assuntos abordados:
There were also segments notable for the exotic or heavy-duty nature of the topics covered:
O FILHO DO DIABO
TRIPLO HOMICÍDIO EM BRASÍLIA – IMAGENS FORTES
REBELIÃO DE MENORES NO CAJE
THE SON OF THE DEVIL
TRIPLE SLAYING — TROUBLING IMAGES
TEENAGE REBELLION IN CAJE
O Barra Pesada visitava quartéis, delegacias, prisões e locais onde a crônica policial acontecia. Não raras vezes, entrevistava secretários, comandantes, delegados, investigadores, policiais civis e militares, bombeiros, advogados, criminalistas, legistas, etc., o que lhe dava tremenda credibilidade.
Barra Pesada visited military police barracks, civil police precincts, prisons, and crime scenes. Not infrequently, it interviewed state officials, military police commanders, precinct captains, detectives, firemen, lawyers, prosecutors, judges, and so on, which gave it tremendous credibility.
Barra Pesada durou até quando o seu titular teve que se retirar, desincompatibilizando-se para concorrer à Câmara Legislativa do Distrito Federal. Por tudo o que representou de sério e bons serviços prestados ao bem da nossa comunidade, nele votei.
Barra Pesada went off the air when Geraldo was required [by the election code] to resign while running for the district legislature. For all his seriousness and public service to our community, I voted for him.
E não foi só com o meu voto que demonstrei o quanto o admirava. Adotei para mim, desde cedo, o bordão que caracterizava o programa e que, vez em quando, Geraldo Naves dirigia a um popular escolhido aleatoriamente em qualquer logradouro público: O QUE É BARRA PESADA PRA VOCÊ, MEU AMIGO?
And it was not just with my vote that I demonstrated my admiration for him. Early on, I took as my own the program’s catch phrase, which every now and then Geraldo would pose to a randomly selected person in some public place: WHAT DOES BARRA PESADA MEAN TO YOU, MY FRIEND?
Alguns diziam que era o desemprego, outros falavam que era a má qualidade do transporte público, outros se queixavam da carestia na feira. Houve uma garota que respondeu assim:
Some would say unemployment, others the poor quality of public transportation, others complained of the price-gouging at the municipal market. One girl answered as follows:
– Barra pesada é o meu irmão, que tá preso, acusado de estrupo, mas as mulheres são tudo virgens!
“Barra pesada is my brother, who got arrested for rape, but all the women are still virgins!”
Como já disse, adotei esse bordão. Comecei nas minhas pescarias na ASBAC, três vezes por semana. Quando dava a ferra num peixe, e sentia que ele tava seguro, perguntava-lhe bem alto, para que os companheiros ouvissem e caíssem na gargalhada:
As I said, I loved that catch phrase. I started fishing at ASBAC three times a week, and when I got the hook in one, and felt it dig in, I would yell out so my buddies would hear it and laugh:
– O que é barra pesada pra você, meu amigo?
– What does barra pesada mean to you, my friend?
Depois, passei a usá-lo em locais diversos, assim como outro refrão que pincei do radialista Luís Alberto: Cai n’água, Jiribita, este pra animar, pra botar o sujeito pra frente. Sou tiete declarado de todos esses caras espirituosos, o que me faz um espectador assíduo e ouvinte viciado dos programas alternativos.
Later, I started using it in various situations, along with another catch phrase I swiped from radio announcer Luís Alberto: “Stick your mop in the bucket, Jiribita, get a move on, sweep out the filth.” I am an admitted fan of all those really vehement guys, which makes me a faithful spectator and addicted listener of all the alternative programs.
“Sweep out the filth, Jiribita”: I am reminded of the gubernatorial candidate in the Coen Brothers’ “Oh Brother Where Art Thou?” with his “broom of reform” and his “little man” — “Why don’t we get ourselves a midget of our own, Pappy?” You, know, the one how turns out to be the Grand Dragon of the Klu Klux Klaven.
On Luís Alberto: [tktktktktktk]
Quando foi ontem, vejam o que aconteceu:
And yesterday, look what happened:
A Justiça mandou prender o Barra Pesada, o meu ídolo, deixando-me aqui desiludido, triste, abúlico, ou, simplesmente, com cara de tacho!
The court ordered Barra Pesada arrested, my idol, leaving me disillusioned, sad, listless, or, to put it bluntly, totally [gobsmacked].
Now, a comment on the post from “Bishop Ismael Gaião”:
12 fevereiro 2010 às 22:14 – Meu Caro Amigo Raimundo, aqui em Pernambuco, a gente só não viu serem presos, mas os cabras que faziam Programas do tipo “Barra Pesada” ou outros de gosto popular, todos que se elegeram Deputados ou Vereadores, quando chegaram no poder mostraram que o que eles denunciavam com tanta indignação, era pura demagogia, pois lá ficaram iguais a todos os políticos do Brasil: demagogos, cúmplices das piores corrupções, etc.
Dear friend Raimundo, here in Pernambuco we haven’t seen them getting arrested, but all the guys who do shows like that, or other shows geared to the popular taste, they all got elected to the state legislature or city council, and when they got into power they turned into exactly what they used to get so indignant about, it was pure demagogy, because there they are, just like all politicians in Brazil: demagogues, involved in the worst kind of corruption, etc.
Só como exemplos posso lembrar o famoso Jota Ferreira e Paulo Marques (este já falecido).
Just for example I can recall the famous Jota Ferreira and Paulo Marques (now deceased).
There are plenty of examples, from the dawn of radio (Carlos Lacerda) down to the present day (Wagner Monte, shown below).
Enough for a big, fat book, really.
Wagner Monte (above, right), now a Rio state legislator for the PMDB, used his show to denounce what he termed “excessive” news coverage of Rio militias — paramilitary protection, extortion, vice and parapolitical rackets run by police and fireman who invade Rio shantytowns — as a Communist plot to undermine the good name of the forces of order.
Seriously. I subtitled the video myself.
U.S. police kill one suspect during each 37,000 arrests (national average, 2008).
Rio police kill one suspect during each 23 arrests (state average, 2008).
Source: Human Rights Watch..