the land of scams

Image: Elyeser Szturm
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By Flávio Aguiar*

Fake It's a beautiful word, isn't it? It has charm as it is Anglo-Saxon. It is usually translated as “false”, “fictitious”, “misleading”, “artificial”, words that do not enjoy the grace of the original. In fact, it should be translated by an even less beautiful word: “falcatrua”, which means “deceitful action to harm others”.

This is what happens today, in several universes and levels. Brazil is turning into an immense hoax, an immense fake, if you want the most purists of the Anglo-Saxon prestige of words.

When I write “Brazil” I am referring to an image we have of this country that is equivalent to half a continent, with 215 million inhabitants, six thousand kilometers long and many others wide.

Since the mid-nineteenth century, the image of “Brazil” has been that of a time tunnel, a vertiginous or slow passage from the past to the future. Vertiginous: “50 years in 5”, motto of the Juscelino government in the 1950s. Slow: slavery, a past that does not pass, an image that still mobilizes in campaigns against racism.

At the same time, there is an image of Brazil that is taking shape every day, from those who adhere to the Bolsonaro government. It is the Brazil of intellectual fraud. We learned that the Beatles were communists, that Elvis Presley wanted to destroy the Western family, that the CIA was infested by Soviet agents who distributed LSD in Woodstock, that Caetano's lyrics make young people idiotic, etc., just to name the latest shenanigans.

But there are more serious things. For example: the corporate media propagates the idea that the country is prospering. That a miserable GDP, 0,6% in three months, is a victory. The same media that creaks under the heavy hand of centurion Bolsonaro, with the other hand caresses the golden calf of the deals promised by Guedes, the tireless promoter of the scams called “privatizations”.

As I write these lines, the minister who promotes the destruction of the Brazilian environment is in Madrid – at the COP conference that the fake government of Bolosnaro refused to host – asking for money to finance… finance what? Farmers who want to devastate the forest and still be compensated for it? Because that's what it's about.

The government's foreign policy – ​​which we could call “the diplomacy of the fried hamburger” – promotes a subservience never seen in the history of Itamaraty, destroying a reputation of professionalism built over a century and a half. All in the name of the fraudulent vision of a Cold War that no longer exists, forgetting the other that exists, and that has nothing cold about it, the war of interests between the powers USA – Russia – China and, of course, the arm wrestling with the European Union and weakened Japan. This fraudulent view of geopolitics reaches such a point that it ignores the fact that the US is treading the Brazilian economy under its heels, while China snatches partnerships with Petrobras to explore the pre-salt layer. As my french uncle used to say, chose from locket.

Would this be a “mere” Brazilian idiosyncrasy?

It does not seem. The scam is rampant in the world of media and geopolitics. See the haste with which the authorities of the European Union recognized the puppet government of Bolivia, after the coup, a haste anticipated only by the Brazilian chancellor with feet of clay. The same haste recognized Guaidó's pseudo-government in Venezuela. The international liberal media itself spent weeks debating whether what was happening in Bolivia was a coup or not. And she was very upset because the demonstrations of discontent in Latin America hindered her coverage of the demonstrations in Hong Kong against the Chinese government, today elected the new archenemy of freedom, alongside Russia.

Not that I think that China and Russia are the defenders of any freedom today. But it is the negative images that keep the falsehood that the West is the paradise of democracy standing. 

Well, there remains the consolation that in the empire of scams, Brazil is not alone.

*Flávio Aguiar, writer, journalist, is a retired professor of Brazilian literature at USP.

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