Why on Earth is Brazilian “President” Michel Temer “loved” in Lebanon?

Btaaboura is a tiny village in the mountains of northern Lebanon. It is connected to the main motorway by a narrow winding road. It could be just anywhere in the Christian part of this country: white stone houses, olive groves, wine grapes, bare hills.

Like elsewhere, the wealth is hardly backed by hard work. It is mainly sustained by remittances flowing from abroad. There are grotesquely luxury cars everywhere – Audis, BMWs. And there is a Western Union office on the main street. All doors are closed; nothing moves.

But this village is actually ‘unique’, different from all others in the area. At the entrance, there is a new park, with two flags waving: Brazilian and Lebanese.

And across the street, a blue and white sign announces in Portuguese and Arabic: RUA MICHEL TAMER PRESIDENTE DO BRAZIL.

unnamedOriginal sign showing “Vice Presidente” now with “Vice” removed

In front of the word “PRESIDENTE”, there is blue spray squirted, covering something. Later, I am told that just a few months ago it read VICE-PRESIDENTE, but when Michel Temer ousted the legitimate President of Brazil, Dilma Rousseff, in a coup backed by the West, the Mayor of Btaaboura personally went to the sign and covered with blue spray what he considered to be ‘outdated’ – the word VICE.


We asked in a small grocery store, and soon we found the ancestral compound of Michel Temer, “Presidente do Brazil’. Nizar Tamer (the local spelling), his cousin, was sitting in the garden, waving at us, inviting us in.

unnamedNizar Tamer (local spelling) seated at left of photo

“Come, sit down and rest. Have some figs and grapes: all local produce. You want to talk about Michel? But, of course. Why not?”

Soon, the seating area begins to fill with other relatives and friends. Fruits are served. Everybody is smiling, joking, happy.

My head is heavy. I hardly slept the night before, shooting endless Tweets, denouncing the coup, ending my long chain of messages with words of unconditional support for Dilma, and with one Tweet depicting a battered Brazilian flag, with my text: “Here is lesson one in essential Portuguese: FORA TEMER! = TEMER, GET OUT!”

‘If only they knew,” I am thinking. And involuntarily, a bitter smile appears on my face.


“Yes, we are cousins,” Nizar, a civil engineer, grins. “His father left for Brazil, my father stayed in Lebanon…”unnamedHouse where Michel Temer’s father was born may be converted into museum of “Presidente”

I am shown another house, right next door, where Michel Temer’s father was born. The house is around 200 years old, and it is totally dilapidated. But there are rumors now, that it could soon be converted into a museum of ‘Presidente’.

“People in Lebanon are very proud of Michel,” explain his relatives. “When he came here last time, it was in 2011 or 2012, it was a huge event: some 100 security people, Brazilian embassy employees… Michel told us that he would raise economy in both Brazil and here.”

When Temer ‘became President’, the village organized a huge party, with fireworks, belly dancing, traditional music…

And what about the coup, the corruption? Do people here realize how he came to power?

“Here, nobody cares about politics. He is now perhaps facing some problems, but these are his problems. We support him no matter what, because we are Lebanese, and because his roots are in Lebanon.”

We eat figs and grapes. Then coffee is served.

Several women, miserable Syrian refugees, are walking down the street, humble, scared, looking down at the surface of the road.

It is just two days before Dilma Rousseff addresses the Senate.

I could stay much longer, listening to slow-flowing stories about the man who is now helping the West to demolish socialist South America. But suddenly I feel nauseated; I want to vomit. Obviously, I had reached the limit, and we have to leave.


Lebanon is a total mess – a collapsed country with nothing social or socialist whatsoever. Money, ‘business’, flashing wealth is all that matters here.

While Maserati and Porsche sports cars navigate around the potholes of Beirut, misery and filth are swallowing suburban areas. Garbage collection periodically collapses, the country is burning diesel to generate electricity (blackouts and water shortages are endemic). Less than 40% of children go to public (state) schools. Medical care is mostly abandoned to the market. There is virtually no public transportation, no city planning, hardly any parks or green areas.

Those who have money throw it around, proudly and vulgarly. There are obnoxiously rich marinas, while the restaurants in the capital are at least twice more expensive than in Paris.

And there is plenty of cash here: from filthy mining and other investments that are plundering West Africa, from drugs being grown in the Bekaa Valley, from those billions of dollars in remittances, and, of course, from banking (money laundering). Lebanon produces very little. It consumes excessively.

Its reputation in the Middle East is terrible, mainly thanks to the racism and arrogance of many of its citizens.

Paradoxically, the only social force that stands above all religious and sectarian divides, is Hezbollah. But Hezbollah is closely linked to Syria and Iran’s government, and it fights ISIS in the mountains and across the border, as well as the several Israeli invasions and incursions into Lebanon. Predictably, the West put it on the terrorist list.


I keep imagining Brazil being governed by Mr. Temer and those like him. And I am frightened!

What would happen to the majority of people? Would they again become fully irrelevant and forgotten, like here in Lebanon?

Would the country function only in order to serve big business, the elites? Would the success of the entire nation be judged by the size of marinas and by the size of luxury cars in the parking lots of grossly overpriced exquisite restaurants and clubs?

Instead of being an example to the world, would Brazil get brutally Lebanized?

The West would definitely love it! It worked very hard to make it happen.

But in the name of Brazilian people, the rot, this deadly destruction has to be stopped.

unnamedTorn and shattered Brazilian flag at entrance to park in Btaaboura, Lebanon

Before leaving Btaaboura village, I stop my car, just for a few moments. And suddenly I see it: the beautiful and dear Brazilian flag is not waving in the wind. It is torn, shattered and it looks like a rag. And there is filth, garbage, right in front of the entrance to the park!


Andre Vltchek is a philosopher, novelist, filmmaker and investigative journalist. He has covered wars and conflicts in dozens of countries. Five of his latest books are China Belt and Road Initiative: Connecting Countries, Saving Millions of Lives, China and Ecological Civilization with John B. Cobb, Jr, Revolutionary Optimism, Western Nihilism, the revolutionary novel Aurora, and Exposing Lies of the Empire. Also watch Rwanda Gambit his documentary about Rwanda and DRCongo and his film/dialogue with Noam Chomsky On Western Terrorism. He can be reached through his website and his Twitter. Read other articles by Andre.