Lava Jato/Fascism is a match – who’s the matchmaker?

After arresting Brazil’s antifascist presidential front runner on trumped up charges to bar his candidacy, Inquisitor Sergio Moro now announces his ideological alignment with a militarized, neofascist regime. Did outside meddling lead to this marriage of convenience?

by Brian Mier

Over the past several years, the Anglo media has gushed over neofascist president-elect’s new Minister of Justice, Sergio Moro, as he has broken law after law in his persecution and removal from the 2018 presidential elections of leading antifascist presidential candidate Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva.

We have written extensively on this issue and the Anglo-media’s normalization of the criminalization of Lula and the PT since the days when Brasil Wire was first founded in 2014. A short summary of abuses committed against Lula by the joint US Department of Justice/Brazilian Public Prosecutors Lava Jato (Car Wash) investigation that went unchallenged in papers like the Guardian and New York Times (outside of the occasional op-ed piece designed to maintain credibility with progressive readers) includes:

1) Illegally wire tapping the President of Brazil, Dilma Rousseff in a conversation with Lula, and leaking it to the nation’s largest TV network for release on prime time news (no crimes were discussed but they used swear words, which tarnished their image);

2) Illegally wire tapping over 400 phone conversations made by Lula’s defense team and using them to create an algorithm to prepare responses in advance to possible future legal moves;

3) Operating as investigator, prosecutor and judge in his own case, and trying Lula without a jury. Although this is actually legal in Brazil, it it based on archaic law dating to the Inquisition. Moro’s role in Lula’s prosecution was literally, in a legal sense, that of Inquisitor;

4) Lying to the media about the value of an apartment and reforms conducted in it while refusing to allow them or defense attorneys to visit the property;

5) Sadism. Moro ordered federal police to yank Dilma Rousseff’s former Finance Minister Guido Mantega out of his wife’s chemotherapy session, and invited the media to film it. He likewise invited the media to film a police raid in PT President Gleisi Hoffman’s house at 6 AM in a case that was so frivolous that even the coopted and partisan Supreme Court unanimously dismissed all charges. The media damage to her image from this was enough to keep her from running for President. Likewise, he arbitrarily sentenced Lula to 9 years in jail without coherent legal justification. 9 years is a large sentence for an act that allegedly occurred after Lula had left government and therefore could not have any quid pro quo, but “9” is the Lava Jato team’s nickname for him, referring to the fact that he lost his finger in a drill press accident when he was a teenager;

6) With no material evidence connecting Lula to the apartment in question, which is still registered in the name of the construction company that built it, Moro based his entire ruling on his personal “conviction” that Lula was guilty, and one plea bargain testimony, which was changed 3 times before the convicted criminal who made it was awarded with sentence reduction, transfer to house arrest and partial retention of illicit assets;

7) Before the Supreme Electoral Court ruled to illegally block Lula’s candidacy for president from behind bars, where he was still leading presidential polls with over double the support of Bolsonaro, a higher court judge issued Lula’s release. Moro interrupted his beach vacation in a posh resort to order cronies in the Federal Police department in Curitiba to block Lula’s release, acting illegally, out of his jurisdiction;

8) Lula’s disgraced former neoliberal Finance Minister Antonio Palocci gave plea bargain testimony in exchange for sentence reduction and asset retention, which contained a few accusations against Fernando Haddad regarding irregularities on construction projects in the São Paulo Mayor’s office. These accusations were dismissed by São Paulo federal police in February for being baseless due to the fact that they started before Haddad took office, but during the official election season less than two weeks before the first round elections, Moro released audio from this testimony to Globo TV which put it in high rotation in order to damage Haddad’s candidacy. It worked, causing an immediate spike in support for Bolsonaro. This action by Moro constitutes an electoral crime, which he will presumably be able to dismiss as Bolsonaro’s new “Super-minister of Justice”.

The difference between a reporter and an online media content generator is that the former is supposed to analyze different versions of a story and attempt to arrive at an accurate description of events, whereas the later is paid a lower fee to paraphrase whatever the PR people of the favored side in a dispute produce. During an interview with Lula’s defense lawyer Valeska Martins, I was told that, although they had been inviting all the foreign correspondents to regular press conferences for years, showing thousands of pages debunking the case against Lula as a Lawfare attack and complaining of the crimes committed by the Lava Jato investigation, it all fell on deaf ears. Instead, the foreign correspondents reduced all of the information to trite cliches such as “Lula’s defense lawyers say that he is innocent and allege that no evidence was produced against him.”

In 1937 the largest Nazi rally ever held in the Western Hemisphere, in Sergio Moro's hometown of Curitiba
In 1937 the largest Nazi rally ever held in the Western Hemisphere, in Sergio Moro’s hometown of Curitiba

As the Anglo media normalized Lula’s political persecution, Sergio Moro began dialogue with Jair Bolsonaro. Bolsonaro’s Vice President-elect General Hamilton Mourão recently told Folha de São Paulo that Bolsonaro invited Moro into his government before he leaked the audio to Globo smearing Fernando Haddad. Why would an impartial judge who claims to be committed to Democracy approach a man who has repeatedly said he has no respect for it? Was it only because he is a member of the white elite of a city, Curitiba, which was once home to the largest Nazi demonstration outside of Germany and Austria? Or could it be that some outside agent acted as a catalyzer?

AS/COA's Americas Quarterly Magazine lionized Bolsonaro's future Justice Minister as a heroic cover model
AS/COA’s Americas Quarterly Magazine lionized Bolsonaro’s future Justice Minister as a heroic cover model

One thing that both men have in common is that their international reputations were bolstered by the powerful neoliberal corporate think tank Americas Society/Council of the Americas (AS/COA), financed by the world’s largest oil, banking and pesticide corporations. AS/COA is the publisher of the innocous sounding magazine Americas Quarterly (AQ), which has a revolving door with the New York Times and Reuters and feeds dozens of stories per month to the major hegemonic media outlets. AS/COA has had a hand in nearly every coup in Latin America since the 1960s, serving, as legendary American journalist Seymour Hersch documented in this Atlantic article, as a primary operational ally of the CIA during the decade leading up to the 1973 neofascist military coup in Chile. AS/COA and its magazine AQ are huge cheerleaders for free trade agreements like NAFTA and the failed FTAA, which was famously blocked by Lula, Nestor Kirchner and Hugo Chavez. For the past several years, Americas Quarterly, under the leadership of a perpetually grinning Brian Winter, has effectively acted as a foreign PR agency for Sergio Moro and Lava Jato. It also facilitated visits for Moro to the US, featuring him as a hero in speaking engagements in New York.

A grinning Brian Winter with Brazil's new neofascist government Justice Minister
A grinning Brian Winter with Brazil’s new neofascist government Justice Minister Sergio Moro

AS/COA, AQ and Brian Winter have also worked to normalize Jair Bolsonaro. Using the psyops technique of cognitive dissonance Americas Quarterly and its media allies like the Guardian and New York Times blow hot and cold on Bolsonaro, hand wringing about his racism and misogyny while suggesting that Brazilians are scared of violence, and that he has good plans for the Brazilian economy. In 2017, AS/COA invited Bolsonaro to New York for a closed door meeting with US business leaders. Shortly afterwards, Bolsonaro announced that his economic chief would be former Augusto Pinochet adviser and University of Chicago educated neoliberal economist Paulo Guedes. Guedes immediately announced that he planned to “privatize everything.”

Cognitive dissonance by Winter
Cognitive dissonance by AS/COA’s Brian Winter

About this meeting the Financial Times said, “his appearances in New York and Washington are likely to generate the most controversy and publicity, and in that way that may help accomplish the objective of the tour: to normalize Mr Bolsonaro as a supporter of liberal economics and a man open to dialogue”.

Could a cabinet position for AS/COA’s golden boy Sergio Moro have been another item on the table in this closed door meeting in New York? Whereas illegal usage of social media was key to the triumph of neofascism in Brazil, this hook-up does not seem to have happened on Tindr.


By Brian Mier

Writer, geographer and former development professional who has lived in Brazil for 26 years. Former directorate member of the Fórum Nacional de Reforma Urbana (National Urban Reform Forum). Has lived in São Luis, Recife, Salvador, Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo. Author of “Os Megaeventos Esportivos na Cidade do Rio de Janeiro e o Direito á Cidade” (CEPR: Porto Alegre. 2016). Editor of "Voices of the Brazilian Left" (Sumare: São Paulo. 2018). Editor of "Year of Lead: Washington, Wall Street and the New Imperialism in Brazil" ((Sumare: São Paulo. 2019) Irregular correspondent for the Chicago radio show This is Hell.