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Turf War Breaks Between Bolsonaro's Sons and Brazil's Vice President
Written by <a href="index.php?option=com_comprofiler&task=userProfile&user=44064"><span class="small">Tom Phillips, Guardian UK</span></a>   
Monday, 29 April 2019 08:28

Phillips writes: "A turf war has broken out at the pinnacle of Brazilian politics, pitting a presidential son nicknamed 'pitbull' and a Steve Bannon-backed polemicist against a group of retired military chiefs led by Brazil's vice-president, Hamilton Mourão."

Hamilton Mourão's remarks about former astrologer Olavo de Carvalho ignited the online feud. (photo: Ueslei Marcelino/Reuters)
Hamilton Mourão's remarks about former astrologer Olavo de Carvalho ignited the online feud. (photo: Ueslei Marcelino/Reuters)


Turf War Breaks Between Bolsonaro's Sons and Brazil's Vice President

By Tom Phillips, Guardian UK

29 April 19


Spat points to ideological rift between two factions while some see it as distraction

turf war has broken out at the pinnacle of Brazilian politics, pitting a presidential son nicknamed ‘pitbull’ and a Steve Bannon-backed polemicist against a group of retired military chiefs led by Brazil’s vice-president, Hamilton Mourão.

The animosity between the two factions was exposed last week after Carlos Bolsonaro – son of the incumbent far-right president Jair Bolsonaro – repeatedly bashed Mourão on Twitter for urging the US-based Olavo de Carvalho to stop meddling in Brazilian politics and return to his former career as an astrologer.

The two factions have emerged after Bolsonaro’s January inauguration, with the hard-right ideologues including the presidential family, Carvalho, the foreign and education ministers on one side and retired generals joined by Mourão on the other. The latter has become an unexpected voice of moderation in the face of Bolsonaro’s chaotic opening act.

Mourão’s reprimand came after the president’s account shared an expletive-filled YouTube video in which Carvalho showed off his gun collection and skewered what he called the shameless, vain and boastful military regime which took power in the 1960s.

The video – reportedly shared by Carlos, who handles his father’s social media accounts – infuriated Brazil’s military establishment, forcing a partial retraction from the president.

But the president’s sons sprung to their Carvalho’s defence, with Carlos launching a barrage of overt social media attacks against Mourão – some reportedly sent from a shooting range where he was holed up.

“Mourão – you’re a disgrace. You betrayed us,” said a prominent conservative YouTuber said in a video painting the vice president as a vain attention-seeker bent on undermining his boss.

Bolsonaro’s son Eduardo who is also the South American representative of Bannon’s far-right group called “The Movement” joined the offensive launched by his brother, urging Mourão to keep his opinions to himself.

Brian Winter, a Brazil expert who met Carvalho last year at his rural Virginia home, said the spat did reflect a Bolsonarian propensity to “flame-throw” foes on social media but at the same time, it was “more than just a Twitter food fight”.

It actually revealed a ferocious ideological battle raging between the two factions – with potentially momentous ramifications for Brazil and Bolsonaro’s presidency.

“You have got adults in this administration … who believe that if they continue to follow Olavo’s advice the government might not make it,” Winter said.

What’s at stake in this power struggle is key foreign policies, foremost among them Brazil’s relations with the world’s top two economies.

“A core tenet of ‘Olavismo’ is that China is a communist, globalist menace. ‘Olavistas’ – with support from Bannon – say China is the defining threat of the 21st century and that Brazil needs to join a ‘Judeo-Christian Alliance’ of countries who can confront it,” Winter said.

The military faction was aghast at the idea of picking “a mostly pointless fight” with Brazil’s top trade partner.

Olavistas also supported an “almost unconditional alignment with Washington, and specifically Trump, who they adore” – while Mourão’s camp was suspicious of such warm ties.

Bannon, Trump’s former chief strategist, has hailed Carvalho as “one of the great conservative intellectuals in the world”.

Jair Bolsonaro’s failure to halt the attacks on Mourão has fuelled suspicions he is secretly encouraging them.

“The president could have taken simple measures to contain his son, like confiscating his phone or hiring a nanny. He chose to overlook his misbehaviour,” political columnist Bernardo Mello Franco noted.

That was risky. “The last president who fought with their vice didn’t finish their term,” Melo Franco warned, in reference to Michel Temer’s role in toppling Dilma Rousseff in 2016.

On Friday a leading Brazilian magazine, Veja, claimed Mourão was so exasperated with the attacks he told relatives he might quit on Bolsonaro and was quoted as saying “I’ll get my things and go.”

Former finance minister Rubens Ricupero said the feud was an unwelcome diversion from efforts to revive Brazil’s economy after its worst ever recession.

“We have 13 million unemployed … At some point there will be an explosion [of protest], like what happened in 2013,” Ricupero predicted. “This is what worries me – not all this foolishness, these controversies. The [economic] backdrop is very negative.”

Winter said the fracas was “fun to watch – until you remember that we are talking about a country with so many problems, and all of this debate is just a huge distraction from what Brazil really needs to get back on its feet.”

“It’s not just a reality show. These are real-life policy decisions … Every day the news cycle is dominated by these disagreements is another day we go without solving the real problems most Brazilians face.”

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0 # Texas Aggie 2019-04-29 18:18
That the military is the voice of moderation tells you all you need to know about the Bolsanaro family. They're even worse than the Drumpfs ever thought of being.

And that they have an astrologer being one of their main advisors also tells you how screwed up that family is. The last time we had one, Nancy Reagan was the acting president. And if Bannon considers him to be some sort of an intellectual, then Bannon is even more disconnected from reality than we thought. Or else he is scrapping the bottom of the barrel.