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The Prince and The Political Conscience of Citizen X

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Source: Jornal Luzilândia

A muckraking book has arrived this weekend on the shelves of book shops all over Brazil.

The book is <The Prince of Privateering> by journalist Palmério Doria, author of the best-seller <Honor Among Thieves>, about the Sarney clan, and a columnist for the 247 news organization. See

This time, Doria focuses on the most powerful and sought-after men in Brazil: former president Fernando Henrique Cardoso.

In the book, Doria addresses the contradictions in Cardoso’s character and points out some of his flaws and failings, such as the buying of votes to pass the constitutional amendment to allow multiple terms and the media’s herculean effort to shield him from news about a child he allegedly fathered out of wedlock with a Globo journalist, who was never recognized as legitimate.

Read the editor’s note issued by the book’s publisher,  Geração Editorial, the same house that published book-length investigative pieces such as Toucan Privateering, by Amaury Ribeiro Jr., and Secrets of the Conclave, by Gerson Camaratti:

<Prince of Privateering> reveals the identity of “Mister X,” the man who denounced the buying of votes in favor of reelection.

The book is a tome of 400 pages, with 36 chapters, and the fruit of 20 years of research by an old-school journalist whose central figure is FHC, a contradictory and influential ex-president. It is an exclusive that brings to light backstage scenes of the press in action. This is the principal content of the latest sensation in the publishing market: <The Prince of Privateering — The seceret history of how Brazil lost its wealth and FHC won reelection;> (Geração Editorial, R$ 39,90).

With a first edition of 25,000 copies — a substantial number by the standards of the Brazilian market — is the ninth in a series by Geração Editorial called “History Now,” including <Toucan Privateering> and the more recent <Secrets of the Conclave>.

Cardoso is the principal protagonist of the book … The investigation paints a detailed portrait of the two FHC administrations, (1995-2002) and delves deep into the contradictory and controversial privatizations carried out by the PSDSB government, as well as the scheme to buy votes in favor of the rreelection amendment.

Dória reveals for the first time the identity of Mr. X  — a mysterious source who taped lawmakers confessing to having sold their votes in favor. Dòria singles out sincere allies of FHC from others and discusses the role of the press in relation to the Toucan establishment, as well as ties between the Brazilian Center for Analysis and Planning (CEBRAP) with the CIA.— not to mention the farce of FHC’s out-of-wedlock daughter, a story kept out of the papers for years.

16 years on, Palmério Dória finally introduces Brasil to the principal figure in the most signficant corruption scandal of the FHC years: Mr. X.

X is was once a federal legislator, during which he used a small recording device to record the “confessions” of colleagues who served as the basis for the stories bylined to Fernando Rodrigues and published in the Folha de S. Paulo em May 1997.

The series “The Market in Votes” explained as objectively as possible how legislators were bought off to approve the reelection amendment.  “He bought his second mandate: 150 federal deputies and a mountain of money with which to buy reeelections,” the Rio Grande do Sul senator Pedro Simon said. Rodrigues, an experienced investigative reporter, won the principal prizes for this category that year.

In their recorded dialogues with “Mister X”, lawmakers confirmed that they had received R$ 200,000 to support the government. It was a scandall that turned Brasilia upside down and whose ramifications remain little understood.

In 2012, however, the business own and ex-deputy for the state of Acre, Narciso Mendes – Narciso is  “Mister X” –, decided after passing through a life-threatening surgery decided to tell what he knew.

The author and co-author of this work, Dória and the equally old-guard journalist  Mylton Severiano, traveled more than 3,500 kmm to meet “Mister X”. They landed in Rio Branco, in Acre, to meet, interview and film a lucid witness determined to shed light on a nebulous chapter in recent Brazilian history.

“Mister X” reveals himself with a photo on the cover and in the course of the narrative. He explains, relates and cites examples of practicing politics in the government “most ethical” in history. One of the most guarded secrets of the Brazilian press is unmasked.

20 Years on Change Gang

In 1993, the author began investigating FHC for what would become <Príncipe>. Rooted in Rio for the last 20 years, Palmério Dória interviewed a number of personalities, including ex-president Itamar Franco, ex-govenor of Ceará Ciro Gomes and PMDB Senator Pedro Simon. These three, for various reasons, revealed controversial information about FHC  and the Brazilian political scene.

The Prince in Exile

Unlike Charles Foster Kane, protagonist of the film Citizen  Kane,  is backmailed by an adversary with respect to a supposed extramaritial affair on the eve of an election, but decides to face the threat and ends up losing, FHC preferred to hide allegations that he had fathered a son from an affair with a Globo journlalist.

FHC took seriously the risk of losing the election. In an audacious plan in partnership with Brazil’s largest TV and radio network, the Globo network,

journalist Miriam Dutra and FHC’s alleged son, were “exiled” to Europe. Palmério Dória avoids a moral judgment of the case, but points to the complete silence of the Brazilian media on the subject, which was known to 10 of the 11 news organizations surveyed.

Though it was no secret to politicians and journalists, but Dória asks how a degree of protection never before witnessed in Brazilian journalism could maintain complete silence on the topic for so many years?

The fact was reported only lately, and with discretion, when FHC was no longer president and his wife, Dona Ruth Cardoso, had died. And there was a surprise ending as well: DNA exams showed that the boy was not fathered by Cardoso, who by this time had recognized him as such.

Neoliberal Fire Sale

<Príncipe> contains details of the neoliberal project to sell off national assets. “His most heinous crime was destroying the National Soul, the collective dream of Brazilians,” according to the journalist, who closely studied the privatization process in the FHC era, as reflected by Aloysio Biondi, in his book .

The Prince also narrates behind the scenes vignettes of the attempt to sell Petrobrax, in which a company with the very same visual identity and a similar name was created to facilitate relationships with the international community. The same goes for the delivery of the telecoms sector to foreigners — greased with bribes … and other state-owned firms, such as state banks, highways, and even a supposed attempt to sell Caixa Economic Federal and Banco do Brasil.

“You don’t need a robbery meter: FHC’s privatization schemes robbed more than 10 times more than any possible divergence of funds by the Workers Party,” says Paraná senator Roberto Requião.

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The book is beginning to pick up some steam among Brazilian bloggers, such as Gerson Nogueira, who focuses on the practical mechanics of the sheme.

It was Acre resident Narciso Mendes, 67 , who used a recorder lent him by reporter Fernando Rodrigues, of the Folha de S. Paulo, to prove that federal deputies from his state sold their votes on the constitutional amendement that permitted the reelection of ex-president FHC, in 1997. The revelation is made in the book , by Palmério Dória, which hits bookstores today.

In Brasilia the role played by Narciso, a member of the Paulo Maluf’s Progressive Party, is no secret. It is the first time he has acknowledged this publicly,however. .

A passage from the book :

“The purchase of votes in favor of the amendment,” Narciso stresses, “occurred openly.” It would be “extremely naive” to suppose that in the exchange of pre-dated checks for cash, the deputies left the bank carrying R$ 200,000 in paper sacks. In this scheme R$ 100,000 paid in R$ 100 bill would involve 2,000 bank  notes, Two hundred packets of R$ 50 would be a considerable pile of cash

“They had to use shopping bags to carry the cash,,” he chuckles.

What Narciso says is that the checks were predated and then later — after the passage of the amendment — were exchanged for cash. Two federal deputies resigned in order to avoid impeachment after admitting involvement in the scheme; Ronivon Santiago and João Maia. Three  others, also from the Acre contingent, were also cited as vote-sellers.

At the time, the PSDB attributed the scheme to parochial political interests such as governors who would be benefited by the ipassage of the amendment. But the book identifies Sérgio Motta, Communicatinos Minister and the principal political negotiator of the PSDB in the Congress, as responsible,

Narciso, today a business owner in Acre, owns the newspaper O Rio Branco and a rebroadcaster of the SBT national network. He maintains that he opposed reelection for ideological reasons. He does not  agree that he could have benefited the interests of his politcal base.