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Things to read, downloaded from our local sebo, or second-hand bookstore:

  1. The technological guerrilla wars: The real story behind Brazil’s national IT policy, by Vera Dantas (1988)
  2. The other side of the coin (currency) (1990), by Eric Nepomuceno

Once again, I went to FNAC looking for a particular book — Nassif’s The Spreadsheet Heads — and found that they did not have it in stock. I have never found a book I was looking for at FNAC — or a clerk who knew diddly about assisting the demanding reader to locate books.

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Parapolitical Rio de Janeiro: “Vote Batgirl Or Die”

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In the Western Zone, in places like Carobinha, in the Paciência district, a city council member supported by state deputy Jorge Babu (PT) is the only candidate who dares display banners without prior permision. But as soon as his team leaves the locale, men from the so-called Justice League tear them all down.

Rio: poder de voto do crime organizado avança com as milícias: Political power of organized crime advances along with the militias. The Jornal do Brasil puts some (fuzzyish) numbers to a phenomenon that has been commented here before in a general way:

RIO – Dos 4,5 milhões de eleitores do município do Rio, 11% – ou cerca de 500 mil pessoas – vivem em territórios dominados pelo tráfico ou pelas milícias e formam os chamados currais eleitorais. Em mais de 600 favelas, os grupos criminosos impedem o livre trânsito de candidatos a prefeito e vereadores e ainda impõem seus próprios candidatos aos moradores, sob a ameaça de suas armas.

Of the 4.5 million voters in the city of Rio de Janeiro, 11% — or nearly 500,000 persons — live in areas dominated by the drug trade or by militias, and form what are known as electoral “corrals.” In more than 600 favelas, criminal groups prevent candidates for city council and mayor from freely coming and going, and even impose their own candidates on residents at gunpoint.

Os números dos votos de cabresto impressionam: quase um terço do que foi necessário para manter Cesar Maia, em 2004, no Palácio da Cidade (1,7 milhão de votos); eleger pelo menos 25 dos 50 vereadores da cidade, com 20 mil votos para cada; ou, num cálculo mais apertado, até toda a Câmara.

The numbers involved in this “deliverable vote” are impressive: These are nearly one third of the 1.7 million votes needed to elect Cesar Maia mayor in 2004; enough to elect 25 of the 50 city council members, with 20,000 votes apiece, or, in a tighter race, enough to elect almost the entire state legislature.

On the phrase voto-do-cabresto, see also

A situação é tão grave que o TRE já convocou a Polícia Federal para garantir a liberdade aos candidatos e eleitores.

The situation is so serious that the state elections board has already summoned the federal police to guarantee the rights of voters.

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Reading Michael Mann’s “Fascists” In Brazil

Caught from the corner of one's eye: decorative mosaic, Conjunto Nacional, 1958: Banco Itaú office block and shopping mall, Avenida Paulista at R. Consolação, São Paulo, Brazil.

The fascist solution was not brokered compromise but forcibly knocking heads together. Italian fascists formed a paramilitary, not a political, party. The Nazis did have a separate party, but alongside two paramilitaries, the SA and the SS, whose first mission was to attack and, if necessary, to kill socialists, communists and liberals. In reality, the fascists knocked labor’s head, not capital’s. –Michael Mann, Washington Post op-ed, Jan. 31, 2008

I was puzzled recently to read a review by Diogo Schulp of Michael Mann’s Fascists in Veja magazine. See

Schulp appears to misrepresent the essential argument of the book. Indeed, he appears to have reviewed the book without reading any more than the package he received from the book’s publicist — and with not very close attention, at that.

From the dust-jacket copy:

Fascists argued that an “organic nation” and a strong state that was prepared to use violence to “knock heads together” could transcend the conflicts, especially the class conflicts, rending modern society. We also see the fascist core constituencies: social locations that were at the heart of the nation or closely connected to the state, and people who were accustomed to use violence as a means of solving social conflicts and who came from those sections of all social classes that were working outside the front lines of class conflict. The book suggests that fascism was essentially a product of post–World War I conditions in Europe and is unlikely to reappear in its classic garb in the future. Nonetheless, elements of its ideology remain relevant to modern conditions.

Schulp seizes on this nuanced conclusion to repeat a common neoconservative talking point: Fascism was the product of a specific historical moment, and it makes no sense to speak of “fascists” or “fascists” any longer — as Venezuela’s Chávez often does, notes Schulp, irrelevantly but with undisguised disgust.

But see

Because some of those conditions do seem present in contemporary Brazil, making it a very handy book to have translated into Portuguese.

(Indeed, Veja magazine appears to reflect one of those conditions: the willingness to infect social communications with black propaganda and disinformation, despite the democratic prescriptions of Dr. Habermas. See also Brazil: Media and Militias.)

The discussion of Italian paramilitarism, and the social negotiations that legitimated paramilitary violence, out of a mistaken belief that it could be domesticated, for example, could easily be applied in useful ways to Colombian “parapolitics” and to the cancer of “militias” in Rio de Janeiro (and elsewhere in Brazil, where such groups are known by different names.)

The central thesis also seems to apply to contemporary Brazil: fascism as a solution to the contradictions of the “dual” or “semi-authoritarian” state. With their strong presidentialism, and the disposition of the latifundiário class to assume such powers at any cost and by any means necessary — Mexico’s President Calderón received about one-third of the votes cast, for example, amid mind-blowing irregularities in the voting and vote-counting, but nevertheless governs in the “strong presidentialist” style — many Latin American countries present similar scenarios today.

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Broadband Blackout: Are Swedes to Blame For Bleeding Speedy?

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Affonso v. Telefônica, based on a true story. This sort of thing has happened to us, too.

Relatório reservado nº3419 14/07/2008: The rumor mill has it that Telefónica blames, or wants to blame, Ericsson for the massive fubar that took its data network down statewide here in São Paulo.

See also

O “caladão” nas operações de banda larga da Telefónica em São Paulo azedou as relações entre a empresa e a Ericsson. Não faz nem quatro meses que os suecos foram contratados para fazer a manutenção da rede de fibra óptica da operadora no estado. No alto comando da Telefónica, fala-se até em rescisão de contrato.

The “blackout” in Telefônica’s broadband service in São Paulo has soured its relations with Ericsson. The Swedes were hired just four months ago to perform maintenance on the fiber optic network in the state. Top Telefonica execs are even talking about rescinding the contract.

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Will Dreyfus Bail Out Agrenco? Or Just Bail?

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Hot off the Bovespa’s Plantão Empresas, dramas in the Bahamas: Will LDC bail out the foundering Agrenco? Or just bail?

From the BOVESPA’s Plantão Empresas, a note of clarification from the Dreyfus Commodities Group about a possibility acquisition of Agrenco Ltd.

An Agrenco extraordinary shareholders meeting has voted to issue the additional shares for LCD to acquire, I am reading. LCD is huge in Brazilian orange juice.

A empresa enviou a Bovespa o seguinte Comunicado: “Ref.: Esclarecimento sobre a Nota a Imprensa divulgada na data de hoje pela Louis Dreyfus Commodities Group. Prezados Senhores, Fazemos referencia a Nota a Imprensa divulgada pela Louis Dreyfus Commodities Group (“LDC”) na data de hoje, para confirmar que esta nota tem como objetivo tao somente esclarecer e nao contradizer o conteudo do Fato Relevante enviado pela Agrenco Ltd no dia 09 de julho de 2008. Atenciosamente, Francois Bloch Louis Dreyfus Commodities Group”

Agrenco has sent the Bovespa the following communication: “Clarification of Press Release Published on June 9, 2008 by Louis Dreyfus Commodities Group (“LDC) to confirm that the purpose of this note was merely to clarify, and not to contradict, the contents of the Material Event published by Agrenco Ltd. on July 9, 2009. Yours truly, Francois Bloch, LDC.”

See also

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Rio: Were BOPE Men Moonlighting For The Bicho?

Hey man in black, what is your mission?
I go to the
favelas and leave corpses on the ground
— BOPE training chant and funk carioca tune

PMs do Bope suspeitos de trabalhar para bicheiro são afastados: BOPE troopers suspected of being in the pay of numbers racketeers are suspended. The report is from G1/Globo.

The amateur film celebrating BOPE actions at the Complex do Alemão last year is extremely graphic. You probably don’t want your kids to watch it. Experts have concluded the images are evidence of summary executions in that police operation.

The controversial action film about the unit, Tropa de Elite (2007), tended to portray the “men in black” as incorruptible. As indiscriminately ultraviolent as Alex and his droogies, mind you, but in some snese incorruptible. On the film, see also

There have also been reports of BOPE members moonlighting as strike-breaking goons.

Seven BOPE personnel were found searching Inspector Tostes’ apartment without a warrant on the day he had about 50 bullets pumped into him. Tostes, a decorated senior police inspector, led the militia in Rio das Pedras.

Foram afastados neste domingo (13) os quatro policiais militares do Batalhão de Operações Especiais (Bope) suspeitos de atuar como seguranças para o jogo do bicho. Segundo a Secretaria de Segurança Pública, os quatro foram afastados de suas funções na rua, e ficarão com funções administrativas no batalhão.

Four Rio military police troopers from BOPE were suspended today. They are suspected of working as security for the jogo de bicho numbers rackets. According to the state public security secretary (SSP), the four were suspended from street duty and assigned to desk chores.

A secretaria informou que recebeu uma denúncia da Polícia Federal há cerca de 45 dias, com suspeitas de que os policiais estariam trabalhando como seguranças de um bicheiro e seus filhos na Zona Norte e Sul do Rio.

The SSP says he received a warning from the federal police some 45 days about, with suspicions that the troopers were working as bodyguards for a bicheiro and his sons in the Northern and Southern Zones of Rio.

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