Inside the boundaries of a rural tract of land belonging to a presidential candidate, an airstrip capable of receiving planes with up to 50 passengers. Some $7 million in public funds went into the construction.
It gives me a mild shock when the first messenger arrives with the tidings: It is the Brazilian franchise of the Huffington Post.
The revelation that a public airport managed by relatives of Aécio Neves poured fuel on the fire in the Neves campaign. The National Civil Aviation Agency (ANAC) released a statement today (July 22) stating that it will notify the state government of Minas about the case and that it will investigate possible irregularities at the airport in Cláudio (Minas Gerais).
In the bunker of Muda Brasil — “time for a change” — commanded by Neves, ANAC’s response to negative front-page coverage by the Folha de S. Paulo was interpreted as a political ploy.
Senior Neves advisors believe that the public machine is being used in favor of the incumbent Dilma Rousseff.
“This time around the abuses used to support the Workers Party is ANAC. This type of conduct is banned by election law,” said Carlos Sampaio (PSDB-SP), Muda Brasil general counsel.
The PSDB said it would take ANAC to court at the federal elections tribunal along with Dilma, charging that she “persecutes political opponents of the government.”
The agency said it would take “the proper steps” if the Folha story was true. ANAC added that it will inspect other airports that may be “receiving irregular operations.”
The Neves campaign says the licensing of the Cláudio airport, built by the state government of Minas Gerais, is and has been legal and transparent.
ANAC says it will perform an inspection to verify that the technical requirements were met during construction before it issues an operating license. Once cleared by the Air Force, the premises may be opened to the public. According to the Folha, Dilma’s campaign has stated it will file charges of improprieties with the public prosecutor.
Even more surprising is the competent, straightforward coverage with which the Brasil Post treats the story.
After all, HuffPo is a business partner of the Editora Brasil, publisher of Veja, which under current management is the nastiest rumor-mongering, character assassinating rag you have ever read. Abril will often coordinate such campaigns in concert with the Folha de S. Paulo and Estado de S. Paulo. The Folha partners with O Globo of Rio de Janeiro in a competent Wall Street Journal clone, Valor Econômico.
Neves uses his Facebook space to deliver his rejoinder, adding little that the Post has failed to mention. It is uncanny. It verges on plagiarism.
Meanwhile, the “I am a victim of political persecution” topos gets old fast, but still the PSDB and allies cannot bear to part with it.
When Eduardo Azevedo, ex-governor of Minas and PSDB party president, goes to trial on charges of utilizing the same slush fund tactics as prominent petistas were last year — the two slush funding krewes used the exact same banker in both cases –we could be in for a battle with no high ground to conquer.