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Veja Só | Bolivarian SLAPP Suit x Brazil’s Incredible Newsweekly

More innovative legal responses to perceived misconduct by big corporate media down South American Way:

I will translate a passage or two.

The Bolivian government announced on Monday that it will sue Veja magazine over an article alleging the involvement of a government minister, Juan Ramón Quintana, with a Brazilian drug trafficker. The Brazilian newsweekly charged, based on unidentified sources within the Bolivian police, that the crime figure met with Quintana in 2010 in the Bolivian city of Santa Cruz at a time when the Bolivian was directing Ademaf [ … ]

ADEMAF = «Agência para o Desenvolvimento das Macrorregiões e Zonas Fronteiriças», Agency for the Development of Macro-Regions and Border Zones.

«The government is announcing its intention to sue Veja over statements in an article that we consider defamatory with respect to members of the government», said official spokesperson Amanda Davila, according to the government news agency ABI (Agência Boliviana  de Informação).

One reads elsewhere that the story made headlines in Bolivia as well, circulated through an echo chamber.

«We will bring criminal charges against the magazine over its insidious and craven publication of a completely unfounded report, allegedly based on police sources but in fact orchestrated by Roger Pinto [ … an opposition senator … ] and his supporters in Brazil», Davila went on to say.

Like the Brasiguaios of Paraguay, Brazilian freeholders have penetrated the border in their quest for expansion, and their claims and demands are defended by the ruralista movement in the Brazilian congress.

Pinto made headlines recently with a request for political asylum in Brazil.

The politician took refuge in the Brazilian embassy in La Paz a month ago, alleging political persecution over his allegations of official corruption. Though the Brazilian government has granted asylum, Bolivia has not authorized him to leave the country.

The senator apparently charged the two MAS officials with returning from a trip across the border in the rebellious department of Santa Cruz with bulging satchels of cash from the Brazilian trafficker.

Pinto’s legal troubles with the La Paz regime involve precisely this dynamic.

Pinto was accused of involvement in the September 11, 2008 massacre in Porvenir.

The Porvenir massacre, according to Wikipedia:

The Porvenir Massacre (also, El Porvenir Massacre, Pando Massacre) was a deadly ambush in the early hours of September 11, 2008, allegedly organized by Prefectural authorities of the Bolivian Department of Pando, (as claimed by the central Bolivian government but never proved) as part of a civil coup d’état against the government of Evo Morales by members of the right-wing civic movement.

Irregular land transfers:

The Bolivian government accused Pinto of having, during his tenure as prefect of Pando, sold twenty-two hectares of land to the department of Pando for the ‘ridiculous’ amount of US$17,515

Ridiculously little or ridiculously much?

Pinto’s allegations:

The Bolivian government news agency stressed that an article «involving minister of state Juan Ramón Quintana, as well as the director of ADEMAF in the department of Beni, Jessica Jordán, with Brazilian crime figure Maximiliano Dorado Munhoz Filho”.

Maximiliano was arrested in a joint Bolivian-Brazilian operation in early 2011 and currently awaits trial in a Rondônian prison. Rondônia is a distant outpost in the Brazilian Wild West, in a country where the vast bulk of the population lives within shouting distance of the Atlantic coast. The one-time territory became a state in January, 1981.

I cannot locate the Veja report in question using its Web site’s search engine, but that may be subpar information architecture rather than malice in retrospect.

Beni is a department — equivalent to a state — bordering on Brazil’s Rondônia to the northeast.

The Bolivian spokesperson added that Veja is viewed as a «phenomenon» by Latin American journalists due to its publication of stories that are, as she said, «scandal-mongering and utterly lacking in journalistic rigor». In Davila’s words, «Veja is a perfect example of antijournalism, of reporting with a total lack of sourcing».

She is not far wrong. These people are — systematically — unbelievable.

Even conservative interlocutors of mine say so, like the Brazilian correspondent of a major Argentine daily who whispered to me once, in Portunhol, over caipirinhas at a lovely pousada in Picinguaba:  «Veja lies, you know».

Yes, I do know that.

It is a challenge sometimes to stick to my stated principle — that bad as it is, Veja has the right to suck as badly as it does. The correct response to the abuses of a monopoly being more competition, not outside intervention, or so they say. They are correct. Still, in gathering driftwood for a Brazilian bonfire of the vanities …

Quintana, a close collaborator of President Evo Morales, has yet to speak publicly on this matter. According to data from the UN, Bolivia is the third larget producer of cocaine in the world, and a significant portion of its production feeds markets in Brazil and Europe.

The Bolivian Bolivarians blame the U.S. Ambassador for fomenting Balkanizing unrest in the Eastern provinces — Santa Cruz, Pando, Beni, Tarija.

According to this analysis by the Web site Cultural Survival, the cocaine manufacturing and transportation industry

… traditionally has been the domain of elites such as the cattle ranchers of the Beni Department, the agro-business groups within the Department of Santa Cruz and a small group within the Bolivian military.

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