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Lies, Damned Lies, and Veja-El Clarín

Source: Brasil247

Translation: C.E.B.

On May 30, 2015, the Brazilian newsweekly Veja accused Máximo Kirchner, son of president Cristina Kirchner, and ambassador Nilda Garré of maintaining offshore bank accounts.

The story was immediately picked up by the Argentine daily El Clarín, a principal opponent of the Kirchner government.

The problem: It was all a lie, as the very bank where the accounts were supposedly opened confirmed. Read an account of the incident by Marcelo Justo of Carta Maior.

Veja has embarked on these sorts of agitprop campaigns many times before. Consider the phony list of Swiss accounts of government, party and police officials, shown above.  Continue reading

Sambodian Power and Light | Turn Me Off, Dead Volume

O Operador Nacional do Sistema Elétrico faz parte de uma complexa rede de instituições e agentes, que desempenham diferentes funções no setor elétrico brasileiro. A figura a seguir ilustra as principais instituições do atual modelo setorial

O Operador Nacional do Sistema Elétrico faz parte de uma complexa rede de instituições e agentes, que desempenham diferentes funções no setor elétrico brasileiro. A figura a seguir ilustra as principais instituições do atual modelo setorial

Just posted by the Estadão.

The National System Operator  (ONS), which regulates the electrical sector, has determined that various energy distributors in the Southeast and South reduce the supply of energy during part of the afternoon today.

Distributors Eletropaulo (metro São Paulo), CPFL Energia (inland São Paulo), Copel (Paraná), Light and Ampla (both operating in Rio de Janeiro) confirmed receipt of the instruction.

Continue reading

Amigos S.A. | The New Sheriff in Western Zone Shantytown

FANFARRÃO 2

Col. Alexandre Fontenelle Ribeiro de Oliveira, CEO of the death-dealing COE

In September, Rio de Janeiro’s Secretary of Public Security (SSP) released something of a bombshell for Brazil crime analysts: the city’s infamous militia groups have expanded dramatically over the past decade. —Insight Crime

Source:  EL PAÍS (Brazil edition).

An item for my clipping file on the death-dealing police. WordPress is misbehaving at the moment, however, which is very frustrating.

The story translated here dates back to mid-September, with a fresh round of warrants in early November.

Continue reading

Brazilian SLAPP Suits | Je Suis Nassif

nassifbeef

A strategic lawsuit against public participation (SLAPP) is a lawsuit that is intended to censor, intimidate, and silence critics by burdening them with the cost of a legal defense until they abandon their criticism or opposition. —Wikipedia

The Globo executive‘s latest SLAPP suit, in a series of nine over the past several years, targeted our blogging colleague and mentor, the economic journalist Luis Nassif.

Je suis Nassif. Continue reading

Taiana Bares All | Brazil’s Operation Car Wash

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Photo: Autumn Sonnichsen/ Divulgação Playboy

Wearing high heels and covered in dollar bills, the former lover of the currency trader [Youssef] appears on the cover of the January edition of Playboy posing in hotel rooms and private jets. She told the magazine that she was “the first person he messaged after he was arrested.”

As I have noted before, every knock down drag out political scandal has its muse or poster child — a figure, usually an attractive woman who, to coin a phrase, “lays bare the facts” or some such analogy as that.

As Veja and Playboy are both Abril publications, it is not difficult to imagine how Taiana became the Goddess of Truth. Create a poster child with scandalous overtones  Divert attention from other significant  aspects of the case until you can measure the results and decide how — and against whom — to proceed.

Mountains of Money

This meme is a close cousin to the Mountain of Money concept in South American news media, itself a corollary to  the Perp Walk — a standard procedure for Brazilian police.

In Ecuador several years ago in an election won by the leftist Rafael Correa, the viciousness of the smear campaign by the local media was astonishing. Mobilized against Correa,  Ecuadoran TV and radio in general have to be seen to be believed , as is, or was, the case in Venezuela.

A case I remember well was an anti-Chavist talk show host who displayed a parking lot full of colorful HMMVVVs and identified them as constituting bribes to members of the government. A clever researcher was able to pin down the exact location of the photo — a HMMMVV dealership in Southern California. A sign was crudely Photoshopped in an attempt to identify the parking lot as government property in Venezuela. Grotesque.

Continue reading

Nassif on Car Wash | The Tipping Point?

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Operation Car Wash is on its way to becoming a pivotal moment in the political history of Brazil, decisively dismantling a political, judicial and economic model that flourished over the past four decades.

Starting with the financial liberalization of the 1970s, an enormous gray zone of banks in fiscal paradises sprouted up, fed with the proceeds of financial crimes, narcotraffic, the trafficking of persons, political corruption — an enormous archipelago of corruption from which investment banks, currency traders and offshore funds pontificated [on matters financial].

***

In this period, various forms of public corruption germinated, the crudest of which had always to do with tenders for public works and government spending.

More sophisticated schemes were practiced during the era of privatization, with the manipulation of municipal bonds, the exchange of privileged information on currency and tax rates as part of [“pump and dump”] operations in  the stock market.

An ecosystem flourished in which all the political and governmental groups could feed their appetites. Denouncing these schemes only made the headlines in the service of opportunistic political games — all in all, a vast spectacle of hypocrisy.

***

The reaction to this trend had its beginnings in the central nations, with their anti-money laundering (AML) and corporate corruption laws.

In order to arrive at our own Operation Car Wash, we had to run a veritable obstacle course, with previous operations that were aborted by the powerful influence of special interests in all branches of the government — the executive, the judiciary, the legislative and the establishment media.

The congressional inquiry (CPI) of the Municipal Bonds ended in a cozy deal, as did the CPIs of Banestado,  Satiagraha and Sand Castles, because they would have exposed politicians of all political parties, powerful corporate lobbies, and financiers.

***

The status quo changed little with the inauguration of Lula in 2003.

Major investment banks continued profiting from their participation in municipal fixed-income contracts, betting on new world champions, while the strategy of the PT was to assign its best operators to negotiate with the underworld behind the grandest business groups which, to date, had only opened its wallets for the PSDB.

***

Whether the needs of governability really required this strategy, future historians will have to say.

What is important is that Car Wash has broken the cycle of impunity under the current way of doing politics.

None of the major parties will escape this web of corruption. There is no room for opportunistic maneuvers. The leading figures of the PSDB are just as involved as the operators of the PT. The advent of the social networks has put an end to the heavy armor the party has reliably provided it.

I was shocked when I read that a Supreme Court Justice criticized by Nassif and the staff of Carta Capital had taken the time out of the official reading of his decision in the ratification of campaign accounts to personally assail Nassif.

I am an occasional Web interlocutor of Nassif — I have read his “The Spreadsheet Heads” and his series on the corruption of journalistic ethics at Veja magazine — but I have to say it: His site is a little unsightly and does not look like an A-list blog. It is mostly just another Ning community of the kind your local children’s soccer team might set up in 15 minutes. But it works.

And so it is a grand day here in Sambodia when the little boy tells his mother that the emperor wears no clothes. Your character, the character of your enemy, that sort of thing.

***

Here, then, some complex paradoxes arise.

If it is partial (partisan) and not complete, and if it permits opportunism, the results of the operation will be less trusted.

If it heats up the iron and investigates everyone, no matter who gets hurt, it will shut down national politics.

***

It is not up to prosecutors and police officials to define the limits of the Car Wash affair. It is the prerogative of political actors to offer ways out of the grandest political impasse in the democratic history of Brazil.

It is urgent that these proceedings result in radical proposals in election law, the criminal code, and the Constitution itself.

May the gods of wisdom guide attorney-general Geral Rodrigo Janot and his courageous team through the Car Wash case.

swatch

You can also read about Watch Dog Journalism in South America for a much more reasonable price.

Deep Float | Petrobras Underwater, Fire

A napkin outline of the Pasadena scheme

A back of the napkin outline of the Pasadena scheme

Item.

There is curiosity today as to the identity of a “deep throat” witness in the Petrobras corruption megascandal.

One month after Operation Car Wash was carried out, in the middle of this year, a career public servant with 30 years of service approached federal agents in charge of the task force and denounced Petrobras for ignoring “signs of criminal behavior” and “intentional mismanagement” inside the state-run petroleum giant “in order to divert funds without awakening the suspicions of auditors and inspectors.”

Together with the acquisition of the Pasadena Refinery in the U.S. – the most emblematic of the charges involving the case — the witness named former Mines and Energy minister Edson Lobão as the “godfather” of one of the suspects and [alleged that] current Petrobras CEO Graça Foster was responsible for the nomination of two other senior executives in the foreign trade division, supposedly responsible for a sale of assets to Nigeria that had led to losses for the company.

charge-latuff-obama-petroleo_0-preview

Was it a note with awful grammar from some General Nigeriano Ubuntu offering you a handsome sum for laundering some huge amount of cash through your account?

This is the Nigerian Third World Corruption scam. Purge it from your e-mail client. A variant is the wealthy but oppressed damsel in distress, for those more responsive to an emotional stimulus, and might be called the Rwandan Woman in Fear for her Life gambit.

During a four-hour closed session held on April 28 in Rio de Janeiro, – the transcript was appended to the Car Wash case file on Tuesday — the «informant», whose name will not be released during continuing investigations, described six cases of alleged criminal misconduct, chief among them the acquisition of  Pasadena, initiated in 2005. The deal, valued at US$ 359 million at the outset, wound up cost US$ 1,2 bilhão, causing Petrobras to suffer a US$ 793 million, according to the federal accounting tribunal (TCU).

[ … translation to come …]

Continue reading

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