Category Archives: Brazil

Brazilian government sees Catholic Church as potential opposition

Heleno-BolsonaroLeft: Augusto Heleno, and right: President Bolsonaro

Estado de São Paulo Tânia Monteiro

The Planalto Palace wants to contain what it considers the advance of the Catholic Church in the leadership of the opposition to the Jair Bolsonaro government in the vacuum of the defeat and loss of space of the left-wing political parties. In the evaluation of the President’s team, the Catholic Church is a traditional ally of the PT (Worker’s Party) and is being articulated to influence debates previously carried out by the party in the interior of the country and in the urban peripheries. The alert to the government came from reports from the Brazilian Intelligence Agency (ABIN) and from the military high command. The reports tell of recent meetings of Brazilian cardinals with Pope Francisco in the Vatican to discuss the holding of the Synod on the Amazon, to be held in Rome in October, bringing together bishops from all the continents.

During the 23 day event, the Vatican will discuss the situation of the Amazon and cover topics considered by the Brazilian government as an “agenda of the left”. The debate will deal with the situation of indigenous peoples, climate change caused by deforestation and quilombolas (lands for ex-slave communities). “We are concerned and want to neutralize this”, said the chief minister of the Office for Institutional Security (GSI), Augusto Heleno, who is leading the counter-offensive.

On the basis of documents circulating in the Planalto, GSI officers have evaluated that sectors of the Catholic Church allied to social movements and parties of the left, members of the so-called “progressive clergy”, intend to take advantage of the Synod to criticise the Bolsonaro government and to have an international impact. “We think this is interference in the internal affairs of Brazil”, said Heleno. ABIN offices in Manaus, Belém, Maraba, in the south-east of Pará (the epicentre of land conflicts), and Boa Vista (which monitor the presence of foreigners in indigenous Yanomami lands and Raposa Serra do Sol) are being mobilized to accompany preparatory meetings for the Synod in parishes and dioceses. The GSI also obtained information from the Military Command in Amazonas, based in Manaus, and from the Northern Military Command in Belém. On the basis of intelligence reports, the Federal government will seek out state governors, mayors and even ecclesiastical authorities who have good relations with the military, especially in border regions, to strengthen their attempt to neutralize the Synod.

The Estado de São Paulo newspaper found that the GSI plans to involve the Itamaraty Foreign Office to monitor discussions abroad, and the Ministry of the Environment to detect any participation of NGOs and environmentalists. Asking to remain anonymous, another military officer from the Bolsonaro team said that the Synod is against “all” policies of the government for the Amazon; which seeks to defend the “sovereignty” of the region. “The meeting will serve to inflame the ideological discourse of the left”, he said.

As soon as the first reports from ABIN arrived at the Planalto Palace, the generals soon made a connection with the criticisms of the National Bishops Conference of Brazil (CNBB) towards Bolsonaro during the electoral campaign. Bodies linked to the CNBB, such as the Missionary Indigenous Council (CIMI) and the Pastoral Lands Commission (CPT), were not kind in their attacks, and continued after the election and swearing in of Bolsonaro to the Presidency. All of them are historical allies of the PT Worker’s Party. The Prisoner’s Pastoral, for example, issued a press release last week criticising the anti-crime package of the Minister of Justice, Sérgio Moro, who as a judge sentenced ex-President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva in Lava Jato.

In the campaign, the Land Pastoral published a report from Bishop André de Witte of Bahia that indicated Bolsonaro as a “real danger”. The networks supporting Bolsonaro counter-attacked spreading word on the internet that Pope Francisco was a “communist”. As a result, Bolsonaro gave up on the CNBB and invested incessant support for the evangelical churches. At first, he wanted the ex-Senator and gospel singer Magno Malta (PR-ES) to run as his Vice-President. Once elected, he nominated the pastor Damares Alves, assistant to Malta for the Ministry of Women, Family and Human Rights.

History. The tense relationship between the military and the Catholic Church began back in 1964 and has remained even in the “de-tension” governments of Generals Ernesto Geisel and João Figueiredo, the last President of the military dictatorship. The CNBB maintained friendly relations with the democratic governments, but was classified as an arm of the PT Worker’s Party by Fernando Henrique Cardoso. The body criticised the agrarian policy of the FHC government and the decision of his PSDB party to end religious education in public schools.

The government of ex-President Lula, who was close to Don Claudio Hummes, ex-Cardinal of São Paulo, was surprised in 2005 by the hunger strike of the Bishop of Barra in Bahia, Don Luiz Cappio, who opposed the transposition of the São Francisco River.

With the arrival of Dilma Rousseff, the relationship between the CNBB and the PT Worker’s Party was damaged. The body held a series of events to criticise the President, especially on questions such as abortion and agrarian reform. However, the CNBB was opposed to the impeachment process, alleging that it “weakened” the institutions.

‘Let’s get right into this’, said Heleno

The Minister of the Office for Institutional Security (GSI), Augusto Heleno Ribeiro, said there was a “concern” in the Planalto about the meetings and preparatory meetings of the Synod on the Amazon, which were held in the Brazilian States. ”There has been influence from the Catholic Church and NGOs on the forest”, he said.

The closest adviser of President Jair Bolsonaro, Heleno criticised the activity of the Catholic Church, but said their capacity for causing problems for the government was not high. ”It will not be a problem. The work of the government of neutralizing impacts of the meeting will only strengthen Brazilian sovereignty and impede that foreign interests are able to prevail in the Amazon”, he said. “The question will be studied carefully by the GSI. Let’s get right into this.”

Both the Minister Augusto Heleno and the ex-commander of the Army, Eduardo Villas Boas, now assistant to the GSI and in charge of the monitoring of the Synod, were military commanders in Manaus. The Vice-President Hamilton Mourão also worked in the region, leading the 2nd Jungle Infantry Brigade in São Gabriel da Cachoeira.

What is the Synod? It is the global meeting of Vatican bishops to discuss the situation of indigenous tribes, riverside populations and other peoples of the Amazon, the development policies of governments of the region, climate change and land conflicts.

Participants 250 bishops.

Synod Calendar

19 January 2019: symbolic opening with the visit of Pope Francisco to Puerto Maldonado in the Peruvian jungle;

7 to 9 March: preparatory seminar in the Arch-Diocese of Manaus;

6 to 29 October: final phase in the Vatican, with Mass in the Basilica of Saint Peter celebrated by Pope Francisco.

Theme of the meeting

Amazon: new paths for the Catholic Church and for a whole ecology.

The three directives of the event

“To see” the clamour of the Amazonian peoples;

“To discern” the Gospel in the forest. The cries of the indigenous peoples is like the cries of the people of God in Egypt;

“To act” in the defence of a Church with an “Amazonian face”

From the Barracks to the Courtroom: US ‘Lawfare’ in Action

bolsonaro

Wayne Madsen | 18.01.2019

Somewhere along the line in recent history, some US think tank in the employ of the Central Intelligence Agency must have come up with the idea that overthrowing governments in Latin America by military coups came with bad optics for the coup plotters. Often, democratically-elected Latin American leaders were demonized by a cabal of military officers who left their barracks and laid siege to the presidential palaces. After taking control of the national radio stations, these generals would announce they had seized control of the government to “protect” the people from “communism” or some other concocted bogeyman.

Beginning in the early 2000s, another plan was devised by US national security planners ensconced in their faux academia “think tanks.” Their plan was simple: overthrow anti-American elected leaders in Latin America through the courts. In effect, lawyers and judges, not generals, caudillos, or military juntas, would carry out coups by abusing constitutional provisions and laws as a clever ruse.

Under Allen Dulles and Richard Helms, the Central Intelligence Agency relied on the old tried and true method of promoting coups via the façade of a “popular” rebellion. After the 1973 CIA-directed coup in Chile, which saw Socialist president Salvador Allende die in a hail of bullets fired from aircraft and tanks at the La Moneda presidential palace, the CIA began to look at other avenues to overthrow presidents in the Western Hemisphere.

For decades, CIA-influenced media, including the dubious Wikipedia, have insisted Allende committed suicide with an AK-47 assault rifle presented to him by Cuban leader Fidel Castro. However, nature would later provide the evidence that Allende was assassinated. The proof came in a 300-page top secret report found in the debris of the house of a former military officer. The house had been destroyed in the 2011 Chilean earthquake. The story of Allende’s “suicide” was spread around CIA-friendly media to mask the agency’s role in yet another assassination of a foreign leader. The CIA’s media manipulation was honed during its pre-eminent role in covering up the assassinations of President John F. Kennedy, Senator Robert F. Kennedy, and Dr. Martin Luther King. For the CIA, however, assassinations were costly in terms of the agency’s public image, so some other method of dispatching targeted leaders was in order.

A formerly CONFIDENTIAL CIA “Intelligence Memorandum,” dated December 29, 1975, concluded that Latin America had to be weaned away from “Third Worldism.” The conclusion was based on the votes of certain Latin American countries that had voted in favor of a United Nations General Assembly resolution equating Zionism with racism. The countries were Brazil, Cuba, Grenada, Guyana, and Mexico. Eleven other countries in the Western Hemisphere abstained.

As the bloody coups in Chile, the Dominican Republic, and other countries showed, there had to be a simpler and less lethal way for the US to bring about undemocratic changes in governments in the hemisphere.

If the CIA were able to infiltrate a nation’s judiciary and law enforcement structures — the latter having already been thoroughly subsumed through CIA-financed “training programs” – it could bring spurious charges against targeted heads of state. This form of coup d’état would become known as “lawfare.”

The leader of the French left, Jean Luc Melenchon, recently condemned the use of lawfare against former Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva. Lula, as he is popularly known, has been imprisoned since April 2018 on trumped up charges of corruption. Melenchon told the Brazilian press that “lawfare is now used in all countries to get rid of progressive leaders. This is what they did with Lula.” Melenchon added, “the judge [Sergio Moro] who condemned Lula is now a minister [minister of justice and public security] of Jair Bolsonaro, the new president of Brazil.” Lula was sentenced to 12 years in prison on politically-motivated money-laundering charges ginned up by Moro and other neo-fascists in the Brazilian judiciary. Bolsonaro, a champion of Brazil’s former military dictatorship and an admirer of Adolf Hitler, Benito Mussolini, and Donald Trump, has vowed to keep Lula in prison. Lula would have defeated Bolsonaro for the presidency had he been released from prison and allowed to run for political office. However, Moro and his fellow lawfare practitioners ensured that appeals to the Brazilian Supreme Court for Lula’s release were all dead-on-arrival.

Melenchon also stated “Lula has been a direct victim of accusations to destroy his work and image, built in more than 40 years of public life.” British human rights attorney Geoffrey Robertson QC echoed Melenchon in comments made to the “New Internationalist” in January 2018. Robertson cited the “extraordinarily aggressive measures” taken to imprison Lula and prevent him from running for president. Robertson cited as Lula’s enemies the judiciary, media, and “the great sinews of wealth and power in Brazil.”

Lawfare coups have been embraced by both Republican and Democratic administrations over almost two decades. The first example of a coup by semi-constitutional fiat was the February 28, 2004 forced removal from office of Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide. US Marines and American mercenaries escorted Aristide and his party from the presidential palace to a white plane with no other markings except for an American flag on the tail. The United States claimed Aristide voluntarily resigned his office, something that Aristide and his advisers vehemently denied. Aristide was literally tossed off the plane, along with his wife, in Bangui, Central African Republic. Through the abuse of “national emergency” provisions, the United States installed Haiti’s Supreme Court Chief Justice, Boniface Alexandre, in the presidential palace. The coup began after CIA-supported rebels and narcotics-gangs seized control of northern Haiti and marched to the capital of Port-au-Prince with the intention of ousting Aristide.

The second lawfare coup was against Honduras’s president, Manuel Zelaya. Staged on June 28, 2009, the coup was approved in advance by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, as leaked cables from the US embassy in Tegucigalpa attest. Coup leader Roberto Micheletti cited the Honduran Constitution and a decision by the Supreme Court as providing legitimacy for Zelaya being marched from his home in his pajamas to a waiting plane that flew him to Costa Rica. The military junta that replaced Zelaya said that his letter of resignation had been approved by the National Assembly. Zelaya declared the letter to be a forgery.

The third major lawfare coup came in 2012. Paraguay’s democratically-elected president, Fernando Lugo, was ousted in a political impeachment carried out by right-wing forces in the Paraguayan Congress and Senate, with the full support of the US-trained and equipped Paraguayan military. From Washington, Secretary Clinton moved hastily to recognize the right-wing vice president, Federico Franco, and his new right-wing government to replace the center-left government of Lugo. As with Haiti and Honduras, the Paraguayan coup was accomplished with the thin veneer of the constitution.

In 2016, it was Brazil’s turn in the lawfare arena. The impeachment of President Dilma Rousseff of the left-wing Workers’ Party ensured that Michel Temer, her right-wing vice president, assumed the presidency. Without Rousseff in the presidential palace, her predecessor, Lula, became fair game for the right-wing.

Next on the American hit list was Venezuela. On December 6, 2015, the US-backed rightist opposition won control over the National Assembly. The rightists immediately commenced procedures to remove progressive socialist President Nicolas Maduro from power through dubious “constitutional” means. However, the plan faltered in Venezuela. In reaction, Washington applied crippling economic sanctions on the country, something that was to be repeated by the Trump administration against both Venezuela and the democratically-elected government of President Daniel Ortega in Nicaragua.

Pro-democracy forces in Latin America and elsewhere no longer have to worry about sudden troop movements and tanks converging on presidential palaces, but armies of judges and lawyers armed with nothing more than constitutional provisions and criminal codes stretched to the point of incredulity.

The mask of Sergio Moro falls

brasil-moro-bolsonaro

(Tânia Regô – José Cruz/Agência Brasil)

In accepting the invitation to be a Minister for Bolsonaro, the judge’s partiality and political intentions have become even clearer ‘in the eyes of Brazil and of the world’

01/11/2018

In accepting the invitation to be a Minister of Justice for Jair Bolsonaro, Sérgio Moro revealed definitively his partiality as a judge and his real political options. His mask has fallen.

Moro was one of the most visible agents of the political and electoral process. Since the start of Operation Lava Jato (Car Wash) he acted not to fight corruption, but to destroy the Partido dos Trabalhadores (Worker’s Party) and the government running the country. All his actions were meticulously thought to influence this direction.

In 2016 he recorded and illegally leaked private conversations of the President, convicted Lula, without proof and for “indeterminate acts”, performing judicial acrobatics to not follow a judicial order to release him, manipulated the calendar of the process so as to impede a deposition by Lula, in which he could defend himself and publicise a lieful plea bargain from Antonio Palocci on the eve of the first round of the election.

The arbitrary, illegal and partial rulings by Sergio Moro led the UN Committee for the Defense of Human Rights to open a formal procedure on the process against Lula, as well as determining the guarantee of Lula’s political rights, which was not followed by the Superior Electoral Court, in clear violation of international treaties in force.

Moro has always been a biased judge, always acting with political intentions, and this has become clear to the eyes of Brazil and of the world, when he took on a post in the government he helped elect with his decisions against Lula and the campaign of defamation against the PT that he fed, as an accomplice with most of the media.

The judge who acted so strongly against Lula is the same as who benefited those who were really corrupt with Petrobras and their agents, who are now enjoying their freedom or are in semi-open imprisonment, besides the millions they accumulated, in exchange for false depositions, with a clear political bent.

This nomination, where the invitation was made before the first round of the elections, as revealed by Vice-President General Mourão in the Folha de São Paulo newspaper, is one more sign that the future government intends to set up a police state in Brazil.

Adapted from Comissão Executiva Nacional do PT 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(Tânia Regô – José Cruz/Agência Brasil)

Lula lawyer says Judge Moro’s acceptance as Justice Minister in Bolsonaro government is ‘lawfare in its essence’

zanin-moro
Cristiano Zanin Martins and Sergio Moro. Photos: Reproduction/Facebook and Agência Brasil

The lawyer Cristiano Zanin Martins who defends ex-President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva said the acceptance of Judge  Sérgio Moro to be Minister of Justice in the Jair Bolsonaro government is “lawfare in its essence”.

In a press release, Zanin said the act proved definitively what Lula’s defence had always denounced. “Lula was processed, condemned and imprisoned without having committed a crime, with the clear objective of impeding him politically. This is lawfare in its essence, as Lula suffered intense political persecution by means of abuse and misuse of the laws and legal proceedings”, he said.

The full text of the press release is below:

PRESS RELEASE FROM PRESIDENT LULA’S DEFENCE

The formalization of the entry of Judge Sérgio Moro into politics and the revelation of conversations held during the presidential election campaign with the President elect’s campaign prove definitively what we always argued in appeals filed in the Brazilian courts and also with the UN Human Rights Committee: Lula was processed, condemned and imprisoned without having committed a crime, with the clear objective of impeding him politically. This is lawfare in its essence, as Lula suffered intense political persecution by means of abuse and misuse of the laws and legal proceedings.

The defence will take all due measures at the national and international levels to argue Lula’s right to a fair, impartial and independent judgement.

Cristiano Zanin Martinse

A matemática do Brasil do Bolsonaro

Bolsonaro e Lula

Foto: huffpostbrasil.com

O que os números e a resolução de equações pode dizer para nós sobre a situação no Brasil? Vejamos os números e os fatores que podem entrar numa equação. Geralmente, o passado tem uma influência no presente e o presente pode nos dizer algo sobre o futuro, mas estes dois aspectos sobre o tempo, o passado e o futuro, talvez terão de ser reavaliadas enquanto movemos através do nosso exame.

Numa equação, temos duas partes, cada uma de um lado de um sinal = ou igual, e temos que alcançar um equilíbrio para assegurar que não tenha erro.

Quais fatores devemos ter em conta nas equações? Números absolutos de cada lado; por exemplo, o montante de dinheiro levado à situação por cada lado, usando um sinal + para fatores positivos e um sinal – para fatores negativos. Os sinais + estão usados para o que sabemos que é real e sinais – para equilibrar o que sabemos que é falso.

Sabemos que no lado direito temos mais dinheiro e que a sociedade acredita que isso é importante. Sabemos que o lado esquerdo está  falando que não tem justiça e portanto que a conta, a votação, está inválida.

O lado direito, geralmente acredita que o dinheiro ou o poder é um direito divino, e que nem todos têm tal direito.

O conselho do lado esquerdo é que devemos nos unir, que temos que lutar, que devemos nos organizar. O conselho do lado direito é que temos que lutar, que temos que nos defender, que devemos destruir e eliminar para sempre as pessoas barulhentas da esquerda.

Até que aqueles na esquerda e na direita possam ouvir o que está sendo dito de ambos os pontos de vista, não teremos paz.

Aquele que está recebendo o conselho, Lula, nunca diz que era da esquerda e sempre escutou os dois lados.

O número 13 é o número que o Partido dos Trabalhadores usa em suas campanhas. Há um mito ou lenda que o número 13 é que dar azar. Não é verdade. Na minha tradição, os padeiros assaram 13 pães em vez de 12 para suprir a necessidade se qualquer situação  desafortunada acontecer, tal como a perda de um ou a queda acidental de um e assim por adiante.

Da mesma tradição, o Partido dos Trabalhadores do Reino Unido sempre buscou a harmonia entre as classes em vez de guerra de classes. Aqueles que ainda acreditam em guerra de classes,  de qualquer lado, estão propagando o que dizem estar contra, desequilíbrio e desigualdade.

Há uma abreviação interessante no português brasileiro sobre o PT. Pode significar ou o Partido dos Trabalhadores ou a Perda Total, que é um termo de seguros para quando um carro está dado como não valendo a pena de reparar depois de um acidente de carro. Este termo entrou na cultura popular com a frase, ‘Vai dar PT’ ou na piada invertida como ‘Não vai dar PT’.

Qualquer um que se considere um trabalhador, ou não trabalhador, também deve pensar sobre o motivo pelo qual um trabalhador se considere excluído ou incluído nessa categoria, e o porquê de qualquer outra pessoa não ser um trabalhador.

Neste tempo,  os brasileiros têm que pensar em perda, em quem ganhou e o que está perdido ou ganho.

The mathematics of Bolsonaro’s Brazil

Bolsonaro e LulaPhoto: huffpostbrasil.com

What can the numbers and resolving the equations tell us about the situation in Brazil? Let us look at the numbers and the factors we can put into an equation.

Generally the past has an influence on the present and the present can tell us something about the future, but these two time aspects, past and future, may have to be reassessed as we move through our examination.

In an equation, we have two sides either side of an equals sign, and we have to achieve a balance to be sure there is no error.

What factors should we take into account in any equations? Absolute numbers on any side, the amount of money brought to bear by either side, using a plus sign for positive factors and a negative sign for negative ones.

Plus signs are used for what we know to be real and negative ones to balance anything we know to be false.

We know the side on the right have more money and that society believes this is important. We know the left side are saying this is not fair and therefore that the count, the vote, is invalid.

The side on the right, generally believe that money or power is a divine right, and that others do not have that right.

The counsel from the left side is we must unite, we must fight, we must organize. The counsel from the right is we must fight, we must defend, we must destroy and eliminate for ever those noisy non-persons on the left.

Until those on the left and on the right can hear what is being said from both points of view, we shall not have peace.

The one receiving the counsel, Lula, never said he was on the left and would always listen to those on both sides.

The number 13 is the number the Worker’s Party uses in their campaigns. There is a myth or legend that the number 13 is unlucky. This is not true. In my tradition, bakers used to bake 13 loaves of bread rather than 12 so as to have a spare for any misfortune that should befall, such as loss of one or the accidentally dropping of one and so forth. It is called a baker’s dozen.

From that same tradition, the Labour Party in England always sought to bring about harmony between the classes rather than class warfare. Those who still believe in class warfare, of either side, are propagating what they claim to be against, imbalance and inequality.

There is an interesting abbreviation in Brazilian Portuguese about the PT. It can either mean Partido dos Trabalhadores or Perda Total (Complete Loss), which is an insurance term for when a car is written off after an accident as not worth repairing. This term has entered the popular culture with the phrase, ‘Vai dar PT’ (It will be a total loss) or the joke inverted as ‘Não vai dar PT’ (It will not be a total loss).

The number 13 is used the Worker’s Party in their campaigns and is a prime number. The number Bolsonaro used in this campaign for the presidency is 17, also a prime number, one that is indivisible by any other number other than itself or the number one.

Anyone who considers himself a worker or not a worker must also think about why he considers himself as excluded or included in this category, and why anyone else is considered not a worker.

This is the time when all Brazilians should be thinking about loss, who has won and what was lost or won.

 

Companies pay for campaign against Worker’s Party through WhatsApp

bolsonaro_whatsappContracts worth US$ 3 million break the law on undeclared political donations

Patrícia Campos Mello

FOLHA DE SÃO PAULO

Companies have bought packages of mass dispersal of messages against the Worker’s Party (PT) using WhatsApp and are preparing a big operation in the week before the final round.

The practice is illegal, as it consists of campaign donation by companies, which is forbidden under the electoral legislation, and was undeclared.

The Folha newspaper found that each contract is worth up to US$ 3 million, and that among the companies buying are Havan. The contracts are for the dispersal of hundreds of millions of messages.

The companies supporting the candidacy of Jair Bolsonaro (PSL) bought a service called “mass dispersal”, using the user database of the candidate or databases sold by digital strategy agencies. This is also illegal, as the electoral legislation forbids buying the database from third parties, only allowing the use of lists of supporters of the candidate themselves (numbers given voluntarily).

When they use a third party database, these agencies offer segmentation by geographical region, and sometimes by income. The client is then sent delivery reports containing the date, time and content sent.

Among the agencies providing this type of services are Quickmobile, a Yacows, Croc Services and SMS Market.

Prices vary from R$ 0.08 to R$ 0.12 for dispersal of a message to the database of the candidate and from R$ 0.30 to R$ 0.40 when the database is supplied by the agency.

The user databases are often supplied illegally by credit companies or by staff from telephone companies.

Companies investigated by the report said they were unable to accept requests before 28th October, the date of the final round of the election, saying their services were booked for huge dispersal through WhatsApp in the week before bought by private companies.

Questioned whether he used mass dispersal, Luciano Hang, owner of Havan, said he “did not know what it was”, and that “We have no need. I did a ‘live’ broadcast here now. It was not boosted and already achieved 1.3 million people. What is the need to boost? Let’s say I have 2,000 friends. I send it to my friends and it goes viral.”

Asked for comment, the partner in QuickMobile, Peterson Rosa, said the company is not working in the political arena this year and that the focus is only on corporate media. He denied having signed a contract with political content dispersal companies.

Richard Papadimitriou, of Yacows said he would make no comment. SMS Market did not respond to requests for an interview.

The accounts for the candidate Jair Bolsonaro (PSL) show only that the company AM4 Brasil Inteligencia Digital as having received US$ 310,000  for digital media.

According to Marcos Aurelio Carvalho, one of the owners of the company, AM4 only has 20 people working on the campaign. “Those working on the campaign are the thousands of volunteer supporters throughout Brazil. The groups are set up and fed organically”, he said.

He said that AM4 only maintains groups on WhatsApp to denounce fake news, transmission lists and state groups called content committees.

However, the Folha newspaper found out from ex-members of staff and clients that the AM4 service is not restricted to that.

One of the tools used by the Bolsonaro campaign is the generation of overseas numbers automatically by sites such as TextNow.

Staff and volunteers have dozens of such numbers, which they use to administer groups or to take part in them. With area codes from other countries, these administrators escape the spam filters and the limitations imposed by WhatsApp — the maximum of 256 participants in each group and the automatic forwarding of a single message to up to 20 people or groups.

These administrators also use algorithms that segment the members of groups between supporters, detractors and neutral, and are thus able to customize the most efficient type of content sent.

Most of the content is not produced by the campaign but rather from supporters.

The administrators of Bolsonaro support groups also identify “influencers”: very active supporters who they contact to set up more groups and do other actions in favour of the candidate. This practice is not illegal.

There is no indication that AM4 signed contracts for mass dispersal; Carvalho denied that his company do user segmentation or manipulation of content.

Estimates of the number of people working in the sector on the number of WhatsApp anti-PT groups are very vague — between 20,000 and 300,000 — as it is impossible to calculate the closed groups.

Diogo Rais, Professor of electoral Law at the Mackenzie University, said the buying of WhatsApp dispersal services by companies to favour a candidate would be considered an undeclared campaign donation, which is forbidden.

He did not comment in specific cases, but reminds that this form could be qualified as a crime of abuse of economic power, and of judged to have influenced the election, lead to disqualification of the ticket.

IN MINAS GERAIS, ROMEU ZEMA HIRED A BOOSTER COMPANY

The candidate for governor of the Minas Gerais state of the Partido Novo, Romeu Zema, declared to the Superior Electoral  Court, payment of US$ 54,000 to Croc Services for diffusion of content. The state directorate of the party in Minas spent US$ 45,000 with the company.

The Folha newspaper had Access to the proposals and e-mail exchanges from the company with various campaigns offering mass dispersal using the database of third parties, which is illegal.

Questioned by Folha, Pedro Freitas, partner-director of Croc Services said: “The one who has to know the electoral legislation is the candidate, not me.”

Later, he back-pedalled and said he did not knowf his company provided services to Zema. Afterwards, he sent a message saying he had checked their records and that they had sold packages for mass dispersal over WhatsApp, but only to databases of the candidate himself, party members and Zema supporters —which is legal.

Asked for comment, the campaign said that they had “contracted the message service only for WhatsApp for the sending to party members, people registered to the web site and supporter mobilization events”.

The Folha newspaper found that voters in Minas received WhatsApp messages linking the vote for Zema to the vote for Jair Bolsonaro days before the first round. Zema, who was in third place in the polls, finished in first place.

Collaborators: Joana Cunha and Walter Nunes