Brazil’s Vinegar Revolution: Left in Form, Right in Content

Part 4 of 6: Avaaz - Be the Change the Global Elite Want

In 2006 another ‘democracy’ project made its debut throughout the world. The organization is called Aavaz. According to its website:

Avaaz—meaning “voice” in several European, Middle Eastern and Asian languages—launched in 2007 with a simple democratic mission: organize citizens of all nations to close the gap between the world we have and the world most people everywhere want.

Avaaz empowers millions of people from all walks of life to take action on pressing global, regional and national issues, from corruption and poverty to conflict and climate change. Our model of internet organising allows thousands of individual efforts, however small, to be rapidly combined into a powerful collective force.

According to former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, “Avaaz has driven forward the idealism of the world”, and former US presidential candidate Al Gore says that “Avaaz is inspiring. It has already made a significant difference”.

Associate organizations of Avaaz include Move and Res Publica, groups who are also involved in the Brazil protests.

Avaaz boasts a global membership of 20 million world-wide and was one of the many ‘human rights’ organization calling for the bombing of Libya in 2011 and is currently doing its utmost to promote pro-Nato propaganda against Syria.

Avaaz and it sister organization ‘’ is one of the key organizations behind the Brazil protests.

Ricken Patel, the director of Avaaz, revealed some of the goals and activities of the movement to the Guardian newspaper in March 2013, where he emphasized the important role of “the more educated middle class” in poor countries as the vanguard of “revolution”:

Often it has been the more educated university students, middle class in places like the Philippines and Indonesia who have led revolutions. But those revolutions have then empowered millions more people through education and development. So, I think it’s a virtuous cycle that we need to develop. I think the development community has a lot of focus in empowering the most marginalized in societies and bringing them into society and economy and politics. I also think that focus sometimes misses out on the people who are not the most marginalized, who may be university students, who have come from a background in poverty and are now able to engage in the internet. Often those communities have the most power right now to effect political change in their country. And I see relatively little focus on those people and I think they have the most possibilities to bring change. Middle class, middle ages women often are the shock troops of our social change movements. That’s what a lot of the demographics tell us from the movement building. And so its mom’s save the world.

Here one should clarify the meaning of some of the references contained in the above quotation. The activist refers to the Philippines and Indonesia. Both of these countries were ruled by US trained fascist dictatorships until quite recently; Indonesia experienced a holocaust under the rule of US backed dictator General Suharto until 1997, while the Philippines suffered under the yoke of the US backed fascist dictatorship of Marcos until 1984.

The US government launched the Nation Endowment for Democracy in 1983 during the Reagan administration in order to find a strategy to counteract public opinion throughout the world which, despite the expenditure of billions of dollars in pro-US propaganda, was overwhelmingly negative about the role of the US government in the world.

The fact that the US claimed to be supporting ‘democracy’ and ‘human rights’ while openly supporting fascist dictatorships and counter revolution throughout the Southern Hemisphere was a major embarrassment to Washington. The purpose of the National Endowment for Democracy was therefore to create conditions in US supported dictatorships, whereby a smooth transition from military to civilian rule could be effected, without changing the neo-colonial economic order, thus ensuring that US corporate interests would continue to be served no matter who was elected. The Avaaz organization serves a similar role. It seeks to manipulate the genuine desires of people for change towards the interests of the ruling class.

William Blum writes:

Its raison d’être is to do somewhat overtly what the CIA had been doing covertly for decades- manipulating the political process in a target country, by financing political parties, labor unions, book publishers and newspapers etc.- and thus, hopefully, eliminate the stigma associated with CIA covert activities.

Allen Weinstein, one of the founders of NED, said in 1991 “ a lot of what we do today was done covertly 25 years ago by the CIA’. (Blum, Killing Hope, page 303)

The National Endowment for Democracy helped fund the ‘opposition’ movement to the US-backed junta in Argentina, Pinochet in Chile, to Suharto in Indonesia and to Marcos in the Philippines, thereby changing the appearance and image of capitalist dictatorships in those countries without threatening the interests of the corporations who sustained them.

The movements referred to above, did nothing to change the economic conditions of the Indonesian and Philippine people. Rather, they simply shrouded the neo-liberal tyranny in a cloak of legitimacy.

In his interview with the Guardian the Avaaz director also talks about the importance of independent media. He refers to the problem when ‘one man’ such as Rupert Murdoch controls the media. This emphasis on ‘one man’ or ‘down with the dictator’ is typical of the simplistic nonsense promoted by such activists. The problem with the media is not that they are controlled by ‘one man’, rather, the problem is that they serve corporate interests.

It is far more than a problem of one man; it is an entire corporate system. The funding of pseudo-leftist media to co-opt dissent is also likely to rise in the coming years, due to the declining credibility of the mainstream media.

Avaaz in the service of the NSA?

Patel told Al Jazeera in August 2010 that his organization had been working in Brazil since 2008 alongside many ‘civil society’ organizations. In that interview the question was put to Patel whether the new anti-corruption legislation which Avaaz helped implement was not going too far in barring all candidates for election who are ‘accused’ of corruption. He did not have a clear answer to the question. Patel went on to remark:

What’s amazing is that the judiciary has taken a very forward leaning, very aggressive approach to interpreting this law. It says it applies to the upcoming elections and it says that it applies retroactively to crimes that have been committed in the past and it shows that, while no court is above politics, the judiciary in Brazil is on the right side of it.

Patel does not seem to be aware of the fact that Brazil’s Supreme Federal Court allowed former Sao Paulo governor during the dictatorship Paulo Maluf to run for the Brazilian Chamber of Deputies in 2010 in spite of the fact that Maluf’s long history of corruption is such that his very name has been transformed into a verb in Brazilian Portuguese: ‘malufar’ means ‘to steal public money’. Maluf is also wanted by Interpol for money laundering.

Paulo Maluf is an ally of current mayor of Sao Paulo Gerardo Alcmin. His recent comments where he praised Dilma Rousseff , PT major of Sao Paulo Fernando Haddad and the Brazilian Minister of Health Alexandre Padilha, were most likely an attempt to discredit the government and tarnish it by association.

This would appear to have been successful, judging by subsequent chatter in Brazilian twitter accounts.

By allowing criminals like Maluf to participate in politics Brazil’s judiciary is far from being on the ‘right side’ of politics as Patel contends, it is rather, very much on the right wing of politics.

The Mensalão scandal

Many of the protestors who took to the streets in June held banners such as “corruption began with the PT”. They are no doubt referring to the ‘Mensalão scandal’- a monthly allowance scandal which erupted in 2005. The Workers Party was accused of buying votes from its coalition partners in order to pass legislation on social security and the minimum wage. However, the PT claims that the payments made to the collation partners related to money owed from the 2002 election campaign, had absolutely nothing to do with legislation and were therefore perfectly legal.

Bank records show that there is no correlation between the withdrawal of party funds and the congressional sessions where the legislation was passed. My of the statements of witnesses have already contradicted the original accusations against the PT. Even more worrying, however, is the apparent violation of Brazil’s 1988 constitution which enshrines the principle of ‘in dubio pro re’, that is to say, that in the absence of proof, the accused is presumed to be innocent.

Former Marxist guerrilla and former Chief-of-Staff in Lula’s administration Jose Dirceu was convicted in October 2012 for his alleged role in the scandal. However, Dirceu published a letter in November 2012 in which he vehemently proclaimed his innocence.

Many leftists in Brazil see the judicialization of politics as an attempt to criminalize left wing parties and boost the credibility of the right-wing parties representing the traditional oligarchy.

Manipulation of the judiciary has been a feature of US regime change strategy in Latin America. For example, President Zelaya of Honduras was ousted in 2008 due to trumped up charges of having violated the constitution. Freedom House, another US government regime change NGO, claimed that the Venezuelan government’s decision in 2012 to delay the inauguration of President Hugo Chavez was ‘unconstitutional’.

Patel boasted about how his group helped strike down a law in Italy that was about to be passed banning wiretapping on politicians. Preventing laws being passed in sovereign countries pertaining to the national security of those countries, this is the kind of work promoted by Avaaz.

The current Brazilian Defense Minister Celso Amorim has admitted his phone was wiretapped by the United States government. He has stressed the need to introduce cyber security measures in Brazil to counteract this.

Will Avaaz launch another campaign in Brazil to block legislation preventing the CIA from wiretapping defense officials?The former Brazilian defense minister Nelson Jobim was fired in 2011 after Wikileaks cables revealed he had been passing on information to the US embassy about Bolivian president Evo Morales cancer treatment in Brazil. Jobim was said to be ‘pro-US’ and keen on intelligence sharing.

The judicialization of Brazilian politics will enable the Supreme Court to interfere more in the decision making procedures of the democratically elected congress. As the judiciary in Brazil is traditionally right wing, the new legislation will enable it to interfere more and more with the democratic process. Brazil’s current Supreme Court judge Luis Barosso has openly admitted that he is against state intervention in regulating the economy.

There is still a perception that some state intervention is indispensable to overcome under-development. But I tend to think that with all its imperfections, markets have been better than politics over the years, so we need to resist this temptation of regulating everything.

In the same article, the author refers to a dispute between Congress and the Judiciary after the former passed a law mandating the equal distribution of oil revenues from the State of Rio de Janeiro throughout the Federation of Brazil. The law was vetoed by Dilma Rousseff. The Supreme Court intervened to annul the law. The lobby that agitated against the Congressional law mandating the equal distribution of Rio oil throughout the federation of Brazil is also agitating for secession of Rio from the Brazilian federation. One wonders if Dilma Rousseff is fully aware that Brazil’s federal institutions are being weakened by foreign forces hostile to the nation-state.

Rousseff has been praised by Wall Street bankers for her siding with the Avaaz protestors. She was praised again by Spanish sociologist Castells who gave an interview to the newspaper of Brazil’s elite, the Folha de S.Paul in which he called for the dissolution of the Brazilian congress.

Castells said that Brazil’s politicians should give up politics and set up private businesses with the money they earned from politics in order to ‘create jobs’. The Folha De S.Paulo’s ratings have gone up since they backed the ‘popular uprisings’. Now they are calling for end of national parliaments and the inauguration of corporate technocracy.

Rank and file members of the Workers Party should be asking themselves whose side Rousseff is really on. Does she understand what is happening? Why did she veto a law calling for the equal distribution of oil among all 26 states, a law essential for national development?

In 2012, Avaaz director Ricken Patel was given the Commonwealth prize on behalf of her majesty the Queen of England for his contribution to ‘global justice’.

PEC 37: The Bill that could have saved the Republic

Another issue driving the protest movement in June concerned a bill named PEC 37 brought before congress by Federal Deputy Lourival Mendes which clarified the delimitation of the powers of the Public Ministry to investigate criminal offenses. The Office of the District Attorney or Public Ministry (Ministério Público) is often referred to as the ‘Fourth Branch’ of the republic.

According to article 129 of Brazil’s 1988 Constitution, the Public Ministry has the power to conduct civil law suits relating to the environment, indigenous rights and other social issues. It is also responsible for supervising the actions of the police. It cannot, however, conduct criminal investigations, which are a matter for the judicial police. The bill was really about clarifying the role of the Public Ministry, as it was increasingly ordering police investigations of government corruption in violation of the country’s constitution.

The PEC 37 bill had the support of the Order of Attorneys of Brazil (Ordem dos Advogados do Brasil), Adepol, the Brazilian association of police delegates, the Office of the Attorney General of the Union, and some of the country’s top legal minds such as Dr. Ives Gandra da Silva Martins.

The mainstream press and the mobs on the street referred to the legislation as the ‘bill of impunity’. Nothing could be further from the truth. The president of the Sao Paulo section of the OAB said that PEC 37 was an extremely important measure to restore the balance between defense and prosecution. According to attorney Jose Roberto Batochio, chair of the commission for the protection of constitutionality and criminal investigations, PEC 37 was formulated after the National Council of the Public Ministry passed Resolution 13 empowering it to participate in police investigations.

According to federal advisor Luis Flavio D’urso:

If we grant the Public Ministry the power to initiate criminal investigations-which should be a matter for the judicial police- it would be tantamount to the overthrow of a system that is supposed to control the actions of the state itself.

The lawyers also stated that the Brazilian corporate press deliberately misled the public about the nature of the PEC 37 legislation, and that most of the students protesting the legislation did not understand criminal law. They also warned the public that current Attorney General of the Republic Roberto Gurgel, has ordered thousands of listening devices which could be used against innocent citizens.

Before the bill was defeated, Mendes delivered an impassioned speech before the Brazilian National Congress in June 25th defending the PEC 37 bill and the rights of the citizen against the arbitrary use of power by the state. Mendes’ defense of legality resembles that of the famous social-democrat Leonel Brizola in 1961during the famous Campanha de Legalidade, the campaign of legality that preceded the seizure of power by the fascists.

Mendes claims that he received death threats before votes were cast on the bill. There have been a number of high profile assassinations of politicians and judges in Brazil in recent years. In January 13th three military police officers were convicted for the murder of Judge Patricia Acioli. She had been tireless in prosecuting illegal militias and death squads terrorizing the poor and trafficking drugs. These gangs work like private military companies and the privatization of public services could lead to their proliferation.

In his book Counterspy, Peter Gribben gives a detailed and horrific account of the role of the Central Intelligence Agency and the US Agency for International Development in training and financing death squads and urban vigilantes during the dictatorship from 1964 to 1984. Have these connections ceased?

A similar attempt to subvert the legal system was tried by the right-wing regime of Nicolas Sarkozy in 2009.
The most pro-American president in French history, Sarkozy, attempted to introduce legislation which sought to enable the Public Ministry to initiate criminal investigations. Luckily for French citizens, the move was defeated. According to Laurence Mollaret, vice president of the French Union of Magistrates, the legislation proposed by Sarkozy was an attempt to centralize power and cover up political corruption.

It has been alleged that Sarkozy has close ties to the Central Intelligence Agency and the US State Department. Judges who were against the PEC 37 bill such as Joachim Barbosa and Roberto Gurgel also have close ties with the US. Barbosa was one of the most outspoken opponents of the PEC 37 bill.

Barbossa studied in the United States and France. Brazil’s legal system differs from France in that the former is an adversarial, civil code system, while the latter is an inquisitorial civil code system. Those opposing the bill believed that the Public Ministry should have the same role as the juge d’instruction (investigating magistrate) in France. However, legally this is impossible as it would involve mixing the adversarial and inquisitorial systems, thereby confusing the separation of powers and undermining the functioning and stability of the state.

We are not attempting to make unsubstantiated claims here but merely to point out that, given the fact the United States is no longer a democracy since the suspension of habeas corpus and the passing of the National Defense Authorization Act, it is reasonable to assume that the US government’s interpretation of ‘rule of law’ and ‘civil liberties’ should correspond to the laws of its own country and seeing as the USA has descended into lawlessness, it is logical that the agents of tyranny in the world’s mightiest empire would co-opt agents of similar moral turpitude in countries they wish to control.

Barbosa was nominated by Time magazine as one of the hundred most influential men in the world and there are rumours that he may submit his candidacy for the 2014 presidential election. The fact that the aforementioned Mensalao affair targeted the PT, and that the judicial enquiry flouted many of the basic principals of criminal law such as in dubio pro re, together with the fact that the campaign against corruption is being directed against left-wing parties and left-wing ideology in general, should give one pause for thought.

The separation of powers is a vital element in a functioning democracy. The fact that the Brazilian National Congress voted overwhelmingly against the PEC37 bill suggests that the country’s leadership is cowing down to the US-backed destabilization campaign, waged on the streets by NGOs such as Avaaz.

In fact, it appears that they do not understand what is happening. The consequences of this weakness could mean the end of democracy in Brazil. Upsetting the balance of powers in the Federal Republic by enabling the ‘Fourth Branch’ represented by the Public Ministry is part of the US attempt to subvert democratic governance in Brazil.

The brainwashed middle class mob on the streets protesting against the PEC 37 bill were unconsciously empowering an institution that seeks to undermine the 1988 constitution, roll back civil liberties and instate a pro-US dictatorship in all but name. In other words, the protestors were unwittingly demonstrating in favour of their enslavers and against their allies.

As angry mobs attacked parliament buildings ranting and raving about corruption, the very man defending the democratic principles of the constitution that protect the citizen against state corruption was lynched by the media as a ‘liar’ and ‘fraud’. As Kipling wrote ‘ If you can hear the truth you’ve spoken, twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools’.

Targeting the politically illiterate

The aforementioned Avaaz activist refers to ‘middle aged mums’. The reader will note that middle aged mothers were the target of CIA backed manipulation in Brazil during the preparations for the coup in 1964. This is because the ‘demographics’ in the studies carried out in Brazil in 1964 and again today, show that this is a category of citizens who are easily manipulated by emotionally charged propaganda.

Corruption exists in all societies. Campaigns that focus on corruption are useless unless they focus on specific issues, individuals and problems. One of the tactics used by US government funded regime change organizations is to focus on general and abstract issues. Hence the activist smugly boasts of his movement’s activities in Brazil.

Patel goes on:

In Brazil we had a wonderfully successful Ficha Limpa campaign, which means ‘clean record’. It’s a clean record law that would bar any candidate with a history or record of corruption or misdemeanors running for office. And when we were first considering running it, the president of the Senate told us ‘ that will never happen because thirty percent of our congress is under investigation for this kind of corruption. And we took it online. We had well over two and half million people participate and every time they tried to block it, dilute it, stick it in a committee, we were flooding their offices with phone calls and messages and the media picked it up and in the end after months and months of this, it passed almost unanimously. And Le Monde called it a political revolution. Thousands of candidates were barred.

It sounds wonderful, does it not? The activist mentions the fact that the French daily Le Monde called it a “political revolution”. There is nothing Le Monde loves more than petit-bourgeois activists from upper class universities in the West organizing ‘anti-corruption’ campaigns against the anti-corruption agencies of developing states.

In 2011, as NATO bombed Libya into the Stone Age, one of the early targets of the bombing was the Libyan anti-corruption bureau. Le Monde published a large picture of the bombed ruins on 18th of April 2011, where a black Libyan official could be seen picking up debris. The Libyan government had been investigating the activities of the very men who were organizing the racist death squads terrorizing the nation on behalf of foreign powers and oligarchs, many of whom had been condemned by the Libyan justice system for corruption.

Mr. Patel and his cohorts gave their full ‘activist’ support to the neo-Nazi bombing campaign that destroyed Africa’s most developed country, unleashing a reign of terror that is now threatening to engulf the entire continent of Africa.

Le Monde called the neo-colonial destruction of Libya a “political revolution” too, and the French newspaper recently lamented what it considered to be the disgraceful behavior of the Brazilian government which refused to support NATO’s drive for military aggression against Syria, due to its objection to neocolonialism. In the warped calculus of the European elite, anti-colonialism is tantamount to ‘corruption’.

Avaaz has been heavily involved in NATO’s covert war against the Syrian people, where it was involved in a so-called rescue attempt of Irish journalist Paul Conroy, who was photographed in 2011 hanging out with the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group terrorist, Madrid Bombing 2004 suspect, and 2011 NATO-installed ‘Governor of Tripoli’, Abdelhakim Belhaj.

Read Part 1, Part 2, Part 3

Gearóid Ó Colmáin is a journalist and political analyst based in Paris. His work focuses on globalization, geopolitics and class struggle. He is a regular contributor to Dissident Voice, Global Research, Russia Today International, Press TV, Sputnik Radio France, Sputnik English, Al Etijah TV, Sahar TV, and has also appeared on Al Jazeera and Al Mayadeen. He writes in English, Gaelic, and French. Read other articles by Gearóid, or visit Gearóid's website.