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The Curious Case of Carlinhos Cachoeira

Having a corrupt person as a source does not make us corrupt –Euripides Alcântara, Veja

As the actress said to the Bishop.

I cannot resist it, I am fascinated with

The name Carlos Augusto Ramos, aka Charlie Waterfall, first rose to national prominence after the publication of a video — recorded by Waterfall himself — in which Waldomiro Diniz, an aide to Casa Civil minister José Dirceu, solicited a bribe.

The money was allegedly intended for the Workers Party and Socialists of Rio de Janeiro. In exchange, Diniz promised to help Ramos with a contract bid solicitation in the state. The video led to the first major corruption scandal of the Lula government.

Subsequent scandals using Veja as their delivery vehicle would emerge from Cachoeira’s private black-bag operations group, run by ex-intelligence officers.

If Brazil lacks the cultural fixation on tales of crime and punishment in its popular literature — an area of cultural life hampered by the lack of a mass market for books — this is certainly not out of any lack of real-life inspirations — the Kurious Kareer of General Kruel, for example.

A modern-day example, torn from the headlines, is Charlie Waterfall, central figure in the black-market numbers rackets in the center-west state of Goiás and currently the central figure in a congressional probe of jogo de bicho in the state — the «animal game», a numbers racket named after its use of pictures for the convenience of illiterate customers.

In this report by the Record network — I have subtitled it as best I could —  the crime boss’s intimate relations with reactionary elements of the Brazilian press are laid bare.

Grupo Abril’s Veja magazine is slammed for allegedly surrendering its editorial judgment to an organized crime figure who fed it scandal-mongering information on common enemies.

While it is not exactly scandalous or shocking that a gossip columnist would assemble his daily output drawing on a network of sources, some confidential, the magazine in general has a habit of running the most outrageous claims without independent corroboration — a famous case was the alleged Swiss bank accounts of Lula and prominent members of his government.

In the Swiss case, Veja ran the most astonishing epistemological tongue-twister yet devised by man — essentially, that the absence of evidence that the accounts existed was not to be taken as evidence of absence. A Rumsfeldian moment, in other words, according to which the magazine declared itself too inept to corroborate or belie the information received from an anonymous source — in this case, the banker Daniel Dantas.

I will not belabor the point, but as you might expect, the case of the bicho-banker and the newsweekly has led to spirited debate on whether or not Robert Civita, group CEO and controller of Abril, should be treated just like Rupert Murdoch.

Expect the news cycle to be disputed by the two concurrent scandals — the «big monthly allowance» case, which begins tomorrow at the Supreme Court, and further revelations related to the Charlie Waterfall affair.