President Jair Bolsonaro’s meeting with C.I.A. director William Joseph Burns, in Brasilia on July 1, was something at least “suggestive” according to Noam Chomsky, in an exclusive talk for this report.
Even “a little strange” for John Kiriakou, exclusively interviewed about the issue by this author.
The Brazilian and even Latin American context, and the way the meeting took place, have raised several questions about what may be happening in the South American country.
Burns’ arrival to Brazil’s capital took all the country by surprise: the meeting was secret, Brazilians came to know about it, first, through the press.
While the U.S. increases interference in domestic matters in Latin American countries, especially through “soft coups,” Brazil is almost on a daily basis witnessing threats to democracy by Bolsonaro, a retired army captain, and by high-ranking military officers.
And a militarization of its politics and the public security, like never before since the “re-democratization” in 1985, after 21 years of a military regime sponsored by the C.I.A.
Bolsonaro’s Meeting with the C.I.A. Director
For Chomsky, Burn’s meeting with Bolsonaro, later with ministers and high-ranking military officers, could sign that Brazil’s democracy could be at risk. “There is reason to be concerned that some kind of operation may be in the planning stage to carry forward the ‘soft coup’ of the past decade,” says the American sociologist and author from his house in Tucson, Arizona.
Whistleblower and author Kiriakou, a former C.I.A. agent, agrees that, given Bolsonaro’s performance after the meeting, considering the Brazilin context, some disturbing thing may be behind it.
“Bolsonaro must think that he can get something out of leaking the information,” he points out, asked about the secrecy of the meeting.
At the same time, Kiriakou states that it is not at all unusual for a CIA director to meet with a president. “In fact, it is quite common for CIA Directors to travel internationally and, besides meeting with their counterparts, they usually also meet with foreign leaders,” considers the first American intelligence officer to blow the whistle against torture used by the C.I.A., currently a Sputnik analyst.
“The CIA never announces a Director visit. If the host country wants to do that, there is no objection. But the only way news of such a visit will get out is either through a leak or when it is released by the host country. And nobody ever says what they talk about” adds the former intelligence official.
In Brazil, there have been protests by congressmen, former diplomats, and lawyers’ groups for Bolsonaro to account for what was discussed in the meeting.
Chomsky considers that far right Americans, led by former President Donald Trump, are exporting to Brazil their model of assaulting democracy. It could be the motive of the C.I.A. director’s recent visit to Brazil.
“A ‘soft coup’ like the impeachment of Dilma by a bunch of corrupt gangsters on fraudulent grounds, can be underway” points out the most renowned commentator of our generation, according to The New York Times.
Questioned if Bolsonaro’s meeting with Burns could be something out of President Joe Biden’s scope, but a representative for the U.S. deep State to Brazil as some Brazilians analysts have considered, Kiriakou reminds us that “Biden is very much a part of the deep state.”
“He has been in Washington since 1972. He was a senator, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and Vice President,” points out the whistleblower from his residence in Virginia.
“It was Biden who sent Burns to meet with Bolsonaro,” takes for granted Kiriakou, pointing out that, in the United States, Bolsonaro is seen as a friend of Donald Trump, not as a friend of Joe Biden.
“It is a surprise to me, then, that Biden’s CIA director would meet with Bolsonaro so early in the administration.”
“I believe that this sends a dangerous message that the United States is willing to work with autocratic leaders no matter who is president and that a leader does not have to respect the rule of law to maintain close ties to the US” regrets Kiriakou, as we see once more in history U.S. double standard, the old American disservice to democracy across the globe, whenever the Washington interests are at stake.
“We don’t have evidence,” said Bolsonaro last July 29, referring to his accusations for years stating that he had evidence, that previous elections had been fraudulent. That was the day when he had previously insisted he would definitively present pieces of evidence of fraud, both in the 2014 and 2018 elections.
On July 28, the Brazilian president had said that “the Brazilian people will react” if the country does not have “a democratic election” next year. What the Bolsonaro regime calls on, are printed ballots elections.
Echoing Bolsonaro, several military officers, including those who are part of his government, are often threatening to cancel the 2022 presidential elections through the baseless argument that electronic voting is not safe, on the contrary: it has been manipulated.
Behind the scenes, Defense Minister Walter Braga Netto, an army general, recently threatened Congress members not to permit elections to be held, if the elections were not hold through printed ballots, according to a recent leak.
The leak has revealed, too, that the military minister personslly threatened Congressmen in late July accompanied by military chiefs of the Army, Navy and Air Force. Supreme Court Minister Gilmar Mendes is suing Braga Netto over it.
On July 28, Sao Paulo state prosecutor Maria Paula Machado de Campos simply rejected a request by the Workers’ Party, to sue a businessman who threatened to murder Lula da Silva through a video, with a gun in his hands.
According to the prosecutor, the businessman just exercised “his freedom of speech,” and spoke out under “an intense political polarization of the society, moved by the current political moment in the country.”
Military Coup on the Table
Meanwhile, there has been a strong militarization of Brazil’s politics and public security. There are 6,157 military officials serving the Bolsonaro regime and several ministers. Something without any precedents since 1985.
Bolsonaro and military officers are often invoking the controversial article 142 of the Brazilian Constitution, known as “Law and Order Guarantee,” which states that the armed forces (the navy, army, and air force) are permanent and regular national institutions, organized on the basis of hierarchy and discipline, under the supreme authority of the president, and are intended to defend the homeland, the guarantee of “the constitutional powers” (the executive, legislative, and judicial) and, at the initiative of either of them, law and order.
As Bolsonaro’s approval rating has been free-falling, and former President Lula leads in vote polls, growing more and more, threats to Brazil’s democracy just grows. Before a totally passive, powerless Congress and Justice system.
Questioned about the possibility of Bolsonaro being impeached, Chomsky does not believe it. “Within the framework of the parliamentary system, many barriers can be imposed,” he says.