Brazil’s Putschists, made in the USA

As a series of widely publicized corruption accusations against former President Luis “Lula” Inacio da Silva fail to pan out, the local and international press continue to give much larger coverage to the charges than the subsequent proof of innocence. Most of these charges have been raised and dropped by a Parana-based federal judge, Sergio Moro, who has been lionized in the conservative Brasilian media as an objective anti-corruption crusader, despite his strong ties to the conservative PSDB Party. Despite having never been elected to public office, his name is being floated by conservatives as a possible 2018 presidential candidate. To many, Moro’s constant onslaught of charges seem more aimed to destroy a possible 2018 presidential run for Lula than to actually prosecute him of anything. Regardless, Lula still leads in the presidential polls. A leaked State-Department cable from 2009 revealed that Moro has been working in cooperation with the US State Department and FBI since at least 2009 in a cooperative initiative called “Project Bridges” which appears to violate national sovereignty. In a speech at Neoliberal Think-tank AS/COA last September, Brasilian president Michel Temer made the surprising statement that Dilma Rousseff was not impeached due to any crime, but because of her unwillingness to implement the PMDB party’s ultra-neoliberal economic platform which is coincidently called, “Bridge to the Future”. In this article political scientist and respected leftist intellectual Emir Sader puts the story into the wider context of 70 years of US Government training for conservative Brasilian officials. – Ed.

Original version of article in Portuguese.

The United States prepared the putschists of 1964 in a process which began with dispatching of Brasilian troops to Italy during the end of WW2. Generals Castelo Branco and Golbery founded the Superior War School which, together with the School of the Americas, trained high ranking Brasilian military officials on the doctrine of national security – and torture methods – which provided the guidelines for the 1964 coup and the military dictatorship which ran the country for 21 years.

This was the mentality which militarized the Brasilian State, making the SNI (Serviço Nacional de Informação/National Information Service) its axis, to control and repress anything that appeared as a symptom of conflict, contradiction or divergence to them. This created a totalitarian climate where whoever opposed the military State was viewed as a subversive agent who should be eliminated.

When the cold war and the USSR ended the US searched for a new enemy, an essential figure to channel the nation’s evils into some kind of external enemy. Narcotrafficking and terrorism began to perform this excorismal role for the US.

George W. Bush gave such a wide definition to the theme of terrorism that even the geographical location of the triple border between Brasil, Argentina and Paraguay was included on the US list of terrorist organizations. The US developed a field of activity called counter-terrorism as part of its new role as the “World’s police” that it assumed when it became the only remaining superpower. Investigating money laundering became part of this counter-terrorism activity under the supposed belief that terrorism launders it resources. It began to investigate and punish cases of money laundering, including activities related to the formal and informal cooperation between nations, confiscation of goods, methods to gather proof, negotiation with whistle-blowers and suggestions on how to deal with non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that are suspected of being used for illicit financing.

A seminar entitled “Project Bridges: building bridges for application in Brasil”, – was held in October 2009 in Rio de Janeiro with participation of North American authorities to train new personnel to serve the empire by consolidating bilateral training on the application and skills of counter-terrorism. Public Prosecutors and Federal Judges from 26 Brasilian states, as well as 50 federal police officers and delegations from countries like Mexico, Costa Rica, Argentina, Panama, Uruguay and Paraguay participated in the event.

Sergio Moro gave a presentation in the middle of the course, in which he spoke about the “five most common points about money laundering in Brasil”. Afterward the participants requested additional training about evidence collection, interrogation and interview methods and skills used in the court room. According to the leaked report this interest was expressed because, “Brasilian democracy hasn’t reached 20 years of age. In this manner the Brasilian federal judges, public prosecutors and lawyers are beginners in the process of democracy and haven’t been trained in how to deal with long legal processes (…) and find themselves incapable of effectively using the new criminal code which has been completely changed.”

The report on the workshop results recommended that longer and more detailed courses be given in São Paulo, Curitiba and Campo Grande. The report concludes that “the Brasilian Judiciary is clearly very interested in the fight against terrorism but needs tools and training to work effectively. (…) Prosecutors and specialized judges will lead the more significant cases involving high level corruption of individuals”.

The appearance of governments that opposed US orientation was an opportunity to adapt these strategies to destabilize them, supported by actions that concentrate on denouncing supposed irregularities committed by the governments, by the parties that support them and by their leaders. Sergio Moro’s contribution was to use the methods he learned from the North Americans- that includes the use of whistle-blowers among other methods- to destroy the democracy that was rebuilt after the fall of the military dictatorship that was installed by an earlier generation of US-trained putchsists.

The State Department communications revealed by Wikileaks, starting with this training program in 2009, should be investigated by the Brasilian Congress as a scandalous intervention in internal issues with participation by members of the judiciary and federal police that violates national sovereignty. It should be viewed as US preparation for a new violation of Brasilian democracy through its internal agents.


By Emir Sader

Emir Sader is one of Brasil's most recognised Sociologists, Political Scientists & Writers, co-founder of the World Social Forum & on the Editorial board of New Left Review.