NMM(-TV)SNB(B)CNN(P)BS: Cops, Candidates, Camera, Action

I have no faith in our hypocritical, false, hysterical, uneducated and lazy intelligentsia when they suffer and complain: their oppression comes from within. I believe in individual people. I see salvation in discrete individuals, intellectuals and peasants, strewn hither and yon throughout Russia. They have the strength, although there are few of them. –Anton Pavlovich Chekhov, Letter, February 22, 1899, to I.I. Orlov.

What is on the Brazilian boob tube?

Political TV spots; a parody of Larry Rohter’s favorite underaged blogging hooker; Brasil Urgente on Operation Saturation — later rebranded the Virada Social — and a Roda Viva interview with the public safety director of Bogotá — on which see also

Colombian and Brazilian officials have been comparing notes on common problems. Parapolitics is never mentioned in the Brazilian context, but I would venture to say that Rio suffers from it as well to a degree.

On Operation Saturation, see also:

Back in September, Causa Operaria (Trotskyite) questioned the authenticity of the operation shown in the segment from Brasil Urgente, claiming that what you see here is a reenactment for the sake of the cameras. CO cites the Folha de S. Paulo as its source. Let me check that. They wrote:

“Moments after invading, the military police discovered that the action was recorded only by a team from TV Globo and three photographers — among them, one from the Secretary of Public Security. With time, more journalists from other news organization arrived and began to pressure the police to repeat the operation. The governor’s press office intervened and argued for a “replay” of the operation, which was, in fact, done over “so that everyone could get good photos of the operation. I worked to get the journalists better pictures,” said Teresa Cristina Miranda (Folha de S. Paulo, September 12, 2007). The military police also confirmed that the second incursion was for the sole purpose of posing for journalists.”

It is worth noting that Governor Serra replaced his communications director not long after.

You will pardon me for twitting the PSDB in that newsreel. I am actually very interested in Crusius, shown there and now governor of Rio Grande do Sul, and Serra, here in São Paulo, as well as Neves in Minas Gerais.

I keep wondering if maybe the responsible adults will take charge of the Social Democrats. (Much as one wonders whether our political parties will manage to wrest control from their respective gabbbling Moonies and Bloggers for Dean and start making themselves useful for a change.)

On Roda Viva the other night, they interviewed the new president of the party — the old one has been indicted for embezzlement, money laundering, and election finance fraud — and I was surprised to see the Toucans had selected the campaign manager for their last (losing) presidential campaign as their new leader.

Their old leader, who resigned mid-campaign in 2006, has been indicted for funneling public money into political slush funds. Ouch. That campaign’s books reportedly also do not balance. See

The party gained zero ground in 2006 from the whomping they took from Lula in 2002. And yet they decide to continue with the same group that has apparently led them in circles. Go figure.

(It reminds me a bit of the Democrats keeping Howard Dean on. Seems a bit like rewarding failure.)

Personally, if Serra could get done what he says he wants to get done — audit and renegotiate all state contracts, get the Rodoanel traffic project done, get the Metrô moving forward, and get his police cleaned up — you would have to be sort of insane to root for the guy to fail.

For some strange reason — perhaps just so as not to turn into a political tourist and kneejerk Lula admirer — I find myself admiring Serra, or trying to. Call it in an exercise in devil’s advocacy. Try to think the best of people until conclusively proven otherwise.

If only because Serra rarely, if ever, utters rabid nonsense. Rabid nonsense gets uttered on his behalf at times, but then again, he recently fired his communications director.

On the other hand, when he broke his campaign promise to serve his full term as São Paulo mayor, he did bequeath us this Gilberto Kassab guy. Again, I do not vote here in São Paulo, and never will — I do pay IPTU, though — but I do not mind saying it: There is something funny about that Kassab guy. And not “ha ha” funny, either.

What is it about the PSDB, anyway?


“The PSDB has never engaged in demagogy.” The Estadão and Folha de S. Paulo on the infamous “mountain of money” photo leak. Click to zoom. Folha: “Photos show dossier money.” Estado: “PT tries to prevent publication, sues to impugn Alckmin candidacy.” Lula looking like a garden gnome, as shown in the Folha, in the Estado, is shown side by side with Alckmin (PSDB) being kissed by a preto velho archetype.

It seems to me that the PT had the success it had because its Campo Majoritário (“fascists!”) was able to make a successful bid for the silent centrist majority, marginalizing and in some case driving out elements of a conservative Left that remains nostalgic for a radicalism that has historically produced a lot of sturm und drang but no appreciable social or economic progress.

The luta for the sake of the luta. The political adrenaline junkies and hysterical virgins.

You see Governor Crusius making a similar pitch there, I think.

And I, for one, do not doubt her sincerity. I have read some interesting interviews with the governor. She seems like a very serious person indeed, generally does not engage in wilfull noncommunication, and, considering the political climate of the state she governs — the moral equivalent of the Ultimate Fighting octagon — is fairly rhetorically restrained.

Still, the party does seem to have resolved to continue betting on radicalization, and continuing to work hand in hand with the DEM. It seems like the wrong bet to me. For what my idle observations are worth (I am not from here).

Still, you ask me, walking hand in hand with the DEM means being associated with the DEM style of political marketing, which tends to assert, for example, that the drug trade and the PCC represent the armed phase of the PT’s plot to establish a Stalinist dictatorship in Brazil.

I am not kidding.

There is an organic link between the ParTy of the 40 gangsters, the agro-terrorist MST, the narco-terrorist FARC, the MIR and the kidnap-terrorist PPMR and the narco-retailing PCC, which now doubles as its armed wing, outsourcing terrorism in the service of its ideology. Tribuna Nacional (Brazil), July 17, 2006 (from Google cache)

And

NGOs dream of using the criminal power and the weapons of the traffic in favor of a social revolution they deem to be imminent and inevitable … It is needful for us not to heed their caveats, and to assume the risks and the collateral damage. It would be impossible to be more explicit than the words of Gov. Sergio Cabral about the narcotraffickers: “They are terrorists, they are evildoers.” – Col. Mário Sérgio de Brito Duarte, former commander of BOPE, the “trooper elite” of the Rio military police — unofficial but highly publicized motto: “We kill to create a better world” – and currently in charge of strategic planning for the state Secretary of Public Security (SSP), Rio de Janeiro. See also BOPE Blogs: “Only the Hard Men Can Save the City”

And compare:

I tend to think — bar and taxi conversations, mostly, and massive overdoses of toxic media and indignant metamedia — that Brazilians are less and less interested in moral panic and more and more interested in normalcy.

And I think there is a faction of the PSDB that thinks so, too.

The problem is that their peerless leader, Cardoso, after rubbing elbows with Aznar in the Council of Madrid, seems to have been converted on the road to Tarsus to the Gospel of the Argumentum ad Nazium.

He was recently heard, for example, accusing his political adversaries of engaging in “Nazi propaganda.”

So anyway, like all political advertising — I promise to deconstruct some PT ads for you in the next episode, so as to be equally unfair to all parties — there seems to be a lot of wishful thinking in that PSDB spot. I actually find myself wishing that the PSDB described there was the PSDB in fact.

I think it would be good for everyone if Brazilians went to the polls one day and found themselves faced with a choice among responsible adults, all of whom could be trusted, within reason, not to totally flush the country down the crapper. For a change.

Meanwhile, I really do find it kind of eerie that the reputed party of evil, scheming neoliberalism and the party of the Holy Ghost of Che would have such similar spots. These are spots produced for free air time the TV networks are obliged to cede to political parties.

What I really wanted to show you, however, was the spot shown here recently for the PP — the “keep Maluf out of jail” party — where Paulo Maluf claimed that the recent oil discovery in the (offshore, deepwater) Tupi basin was a direct result of his ill-fated (inland, in the Paraná basin) explorations in the 1980s with a state oil company he founded.

Which found no usable petroleum at all, whatsoever, zilch, nada, and left the state $500 million in the hole when it finally went as extinct as the dinosaurs it was hunting for.

So that spot, the bar conversation tends to agree, was by way of being something of an enormous, barefaced whopper in the classic Maluf style.

It is pretty obvious here that Datena is looping stock footage over and over, while laying down a voiceover as if he and his reporters were reporting live.

Datena is like that.

Crude disinformation.

No “social action” dentistmobiles or pyschotherapists are in evidence, obviously.

And while mentioning the “social programs” component of the operation, Datena omits mentioning the alleged expropriation of the land.

Let me see if I can clarify that aspect of the issue.

On the enthusiastic use, Robert Moses-style, of eminent domain here in São Paulo lately, see also

Uma operação montada pela Policia Militar de São Paulo, a chamada Operação Saturação, ocupou as Favelas da Zona Sul da Capital, com ação mais intensa nas favelas da Alba e da Rocinha, localizadas no Jabaquara. A ação já chega ao seu oitavo dia e ainda não há previsão para a desocupação.

An operation conducted by the military police of São Paulo, the so-called Operation Saturation, occupied the shantytowns of the Southern Zone of the city, with the most intense action in Alba and Rocinha in Jabaquara. The action is now on its eighth day and there is no deadline for the police to leave the area.

A operação foi iniciada na quarta-feira (12) por volta das 6h e contou com a participação de 667 policiais militares, 201 carros, 67 cavalos, dois cães e um helicóptero. A principal alegação da polícia é que essa ação seria para desestruturar o tráfico de drogas no local. As unidades especializadas da Polícia Militar que participam da invasão são: ROTA, Grupo de Ações Táticas Especiais (GATE), Comando de Operações Especiais (COE), Grupamento Aéreo (Águia), Canil, Regimento “9 de Julho” (Cavalaria), Rondas Ostensivas com Apoio de Motocicletas (Rocam) e Trânsito. Essas policiais são conhecidas por serem as mais repressoras e violentas.

On which see also

Na verdade essa a Operação Saturação faz parte de um plano montado pela prefeitura de São Paulo que está desocupando as favelas para atender aos interesses dos grandes capitalistas. O prefeito da cidade, Gilberto Kassab (DEM), já anunciou que irá desapropriar 19 favelas da capital. No caso específico da favela Alba a ação e posteriormente a desocupação têm como objetivo demolir a favela para que a av. Roberto Marinho, antiga Águas Espraiadas, seja ampliada. Tanto é assim que vários barracos já foram destruídos, a favela está sendo desapropriada e a suposta operação antidrogas é tão mentirosa que nem ao menos finge perseguir os traficantes, apenas reprimindo abertamente a população.

In fact, Operation Saturation is part of a plan by the city government to move residents out of the favelas in order to attend the interests of big capitalists. Mayor Kassab has already announed he will expropriate 19 shantytowns in the city. In the specific case of Alba, the police raid and the later depopulation of the community has its objective to demolish the shantytown in order to widen Roberto Marinho Avenue, the former Águas Espraiadas. So much so that a number of shanties have already been destroyed, the favela is being emptied out, and this supposed antidrug operation is such a farce that they do not even pretend to be chasing drug dealers. They are just openly repressing the population.

Essa ação “antidrogas” é tão fajuta que na favela da Alba, por exemplo, chegou a ser refeita apenas para que policiais militares pudessem ser filmados e fotografados. Montaram uma encenação pra a imprensa, um jogo de marketing para mostrar serviço para a sociedade, quando de fato o único objetivo é retirar todos os moradores, desabrigar todos eles (Cerca de 7.500 pessoas) para que a pista seja ampliada.

This “antidrug” operation is such a joke that in Alba, for example, the raid was done over just so military police could pose for photographers and video cameras. They staged it for the press, a marketing video to show how they were serving society, when in fact the only objective is to move all the residents out, leaving all of them (nearly 7,500) homeless so the avenue can be widened.

I am just translating, mind you.

I have not fact-checked this.

Datena claims that major amounts of drugs were seized at the location — 222 kg. But then again, Datena is not exactly Walter Cronkite. Just how phony is that report you see there? I should try and pin that question down. I will, when I get a chance. But it does present many prima facie indicators of utter phoniness.

Momentos depois da invasão, a PM descobriu que a ação foi registrada apenas por uma equipe da TV Globo e três fotógrafos – entre eles, um da Secretaria da Segurança Pública. Com o passar do tempo mais jornalistas de outros órgãos de imprensa chegaram ao local e começara a pressionar para que a operação fosse repetida. A assessoria de imprensa do governo José Serra (PSDB) interveio e defendeu o “replay” da operação que finalmente foi refeita “para que todos possam fazer boas fotos da operação (…) Eu trabalhei para que os jornalistas tivessem imagens melhores”, afirmou a assessora Teresa Cristina Miranda (Folha de S. Paulo, 12/9/2007). A PM também confirmou que a segunda incursão serviu exclusivamente para mostrar aos jornalistas.

Moments after invading, the military police discovered that the action was recorded only by a team from TV Globo and three photographers — among them, one from the Secretary of Public Security. With time, more journalists from other news organization arrived and began to pressure the police to repeat the operation. The governor’s press office intervened and argued for a “replay” of the operation, which was, in fact, done over “so that everyone could get good photos of the operation. I worked to get the journalists better pictures,” said Teresa Cristina Miranda (Folha de S. Paulo, September 12, 2007). The military police also confirmed that the second incursion was for the sole purpose of posing for journalists.

There was an interesting story [in the Estadão?] the other day about real estate speculators who are allegedly paying off squatters to build barracos on strategic land, land that is scheduled for reappropriation and use in other public projects.

The play is that if the city wants the land back, it has to pay the posseiros.

But the barracos are all actually unoccupied and registered in the names of fronts, reportedly. All the money would go to a small number of parties who are actually real estate speculators, not residents.

Not unheard of.

Planet of Slums describes such practices in other countries as well.

One which see also

And you thought the New York City real estate scene was a Hobbesian state of nature.

Imagine if Century 21 and Coldwell Banker each had a private army of off-duty cops armed with heavy weapons and ski masks, doing death-squad numbers on their business rivals. There are hints of this here. (They say there is a similar dynamic in Acapulco these days, too.)

Durante a operação, funcionários da Subprefeitura de Santo Amaro derrubaram barracos de moradores, uma ação ilegal, feita sem nenhuma autorização judicial.

During the operation, employees of the subprefecture of Santo Amaro tore down shanties belonging to residents, which is illegal, and done without judicial authorization.

Para concluir, foi denunciado por moradores da favela o teatrinho que eles fazem também no tratamento com a população. “Com a imprensa por perto, a polícia nos tratava bem. Longe, todo mundo era tratado como traficante”, afirmou Flaviane dos Santos Ferreira, 24, que perdeu o barraco na operação de ontem da PM (Idem).

Finally, residents denounced the little theater piece that was being staged as well with regard to the treatment of the population. “With the press around, the police treated us well. When they left, everyone was treated like a drug dealer,” said Flaviane dos Santos Ferreira, 24, who lost his homin the militar police operation (same source).

O combate às drogas é sistematicamente utilizado para justificar as ações de agressão contra a população pobre por parte da polícia como ocorreu, por exemplo, na favela do Alemão onde foram constatadas execuções sumárias contra a população desarmada.

The war on drugs is systematically used to justify aggression against the poor population by the police, as happened in the Alemão commmunity in Rio, where summary executions were registered against the unarmed population.

That may be an exaggeration.

The matter is far from being clarified, but what the findings seem to indicate is execution of suspects after they had been disarmed and arrested. Which is bad enough. Stray-bullet deaths are also a real concern, but those are not quite the same as cold-blooded double-taps in the nuca.

Also on the boob tube, by the way, last evening: A concert by Quaternaglia. Sort of the Kronos Quartet of the Brazilian gitfiddle. Wonderful.

Better than Fripp’s League of Crafty Guitarists, even. At least as wonderful as the São Paulo State Viola Caipira Symphony Orchestra. Which is pretty damn wonderful.

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