Censorship: Brazil Judicial Party Follows US Democrats Censorbans Sitting President Bolsonaro Off All Social Media
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Tue Sep 6 02:01:04 PDT 2022
Blocking the Brazilian President’s Social Media: Supreme Court’s
Threat to Democracy
September 5, 2022 Updated: September 5, 2022
In Brazil, some judges have highly ambitious political goals and make
The current presiding justice at the nation’s Supreme Electoral Court
is Alexandre de Moraes. He was elected as the presiding electoral
officer in August, in a public ceremony with 2,000 guests at the court
auditorium. He was a member of the Brazilian Social Democratic Party
before being nominated justice of the nation’s Federal Supreme Court
on Feb. 22, 2017.
Before being nominated to the nation’s highest court, as reported by
the French daily Le Monde, he was at the centre of a controversy when
the daily Estadão published an investigation showing that he had
intervened as a lawyer in at least 123 legal cases to defend a
corporation that some have argued is suspected of being linked to
Brazil’s main drug trafficking group, the First Command of the
Moraes, who is now the nation’s top electoral officer in Brazil and
responsible for overseeing the presidential elections, has issued
numerous “monocratic decisions” against “misinformation,” in addition
to sending some of President Jair Bolsonaro’s friends and supporters
to jail, confiscating their electronic devices, and freezing their
On March 18, for example, Moraes ordered the nationwide suspension of
the messaging app Telegram. The ruling came after Telegram ignored an
earlier order to block the account of Allan dos Santos, a supporter of
Bolsonaro accused of spreading “misinformation.” He had previously
issued a warrant for the arrest of Santos in October.
In his ruling suspending Telegram nationwide, Moraes mentions its
failing to remove “misleading” content from Bolsonaro’s own Telegram
page. As reported, not only did he order the shutdown of the message
app nationwide but also ordered Apple and Google to introduce
“technological obstacles” to block Telegram on their operating systems
and withdraw it from their digital stores in Brazil.
Bolsonaro, who seeks reelection in October, relies on Telegram to
reach his voter base. He has more than a million followers on the
platform and this could prove crucial to his electoral campaign.
Jair Bolsonaro Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro speaks, during a
joint press conference with Paraguay’s president at the Planalto
Palace in Brasilia, Brazil, on Nov. 24, 2021. (Raul Spinasse/AP Photo)
On March 19, during the popular television program “Os Pingos nos Is”
from Jovem Pam, journalist Augusto Nunes accused Moraes of committing
several illegalities, including the abuse of authority and the
violation of a cláusula pétrea (“stone clause”) in the Brazilian
Constitution that makes freedom of expression an inalienable right of
Nunes also criticized the silence of politicians about Moraes’s
“decisions,” including the banning of Telegram nationwide.
“It’s time to demand senators and judges handcuffed for their
cowardice. And those appointed by President Jair Bolsonaro have to
explain how long this cowardly silence they have maintained in the
face of arrogance will last,” he said.
On May 27, 2020, Justice Moraes, who had become the nation’s top
electoral officer, ordered the federal police to launch an operation
probing businessmen, bloggers, and politicians allied to Bolsonaro. In
the decision that authorised the operation, he also determined the
blocking of all their accounts on social media outlets such as
Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. According to him, the monocratic
decision is necessary for the interruption of “misinformation” and
The investigation on “misinformation” conducted by Moraes concerns
more generally the dissemination of information regarding the
transparency of electronic voting machines and the credibility of the
Brazilian electoral commission, which is actually headed by Moraes
Filipe Martins, the special advisor to the presidency of the Republic
for international affairs, commented that “journalists, humorists, and
ordinary citizens who act spontaneously are being treated as bandits
for daring to express opinions that displease the establishment.”
Bolsanaro Not the Only Target
Among the targets of police actions ordered by Moraes are the national
president of the Brazilian Workers’ Party Roberto Jefferson,
businessman Luciano Hang, and congresspersons Douglas Garcia, Gil
Diniz, Carla Zambelli, Bia Kicis, Junio Amaral, Filipe Barros, Luiz
Phillipe Orleans e Bragança, and Daniel Silveira.
One of these parliamentarians, Zambelli, said that “every person who
respects the law has the obligation to repudiate these searches within
the scope of an illegal and unconstitutional investigation.”
By the same token, another congresswoman, Kicis, stated: “We are
living in dark times of brazen attack on democracy. Don’t forget the
people who are celebrating the abuses of authority and undemocratic
acts by Justice Alexandre de Moraes against journalists, comedians,
businessmen and any other common people. They are accomplices of the
dictatorship. I have never been silent against tyranny or opponents.”
On Aug. 23, Moraes directed the federal police to execute search
warrants in five states targeting at least eight businessmen. He
ordered police to raid their homes, to access their bank accounts, and
suspend their social media accounts. These citizens are being
investigated over a couple of messages posted in their WhatsApp group
whereby some allegedly dared to say they would prefer another military
regime to the return of the far-left candidate Lula da Silva to the
Epoch Times Photo Former president of Brazil Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva
speaks during an event to announce Lula’s pre-candidacy for October
presidential elections along with running mate Geraldo Alckmin at Expo
Center Norte in Sao Paulo, Brazil, on May 7, 2022. (Buda Mendes/Getty
Moraes also ordered their bank accounts blocked. One of those targeted
by the operation was Luciano Hang, the founder of retail chain Havan
and a Bolsonaro supporter with millions of followers on social media.
Although Hang says he has “never spoken of a coup” and he has “always
defended democracy and freedom of expression,” Moraes ordered the
blocking of all his social media accounts, including Twitter,
Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, WhatsApp, and TikTok.
“They can take away my social networks, but they’ll never shut me up!”
said Hang, who built a department store chain known for displaying
replicas of the Statute of Liberty out front. “Say no to censorship!
You could be next,” he posted on his Twitter account before it was
closed by the court order issued by Moraes.
Other businessmen who reportedly had their social media and bank
accounts blocked include Meyer Joseph Nigri, chairman and former CEO
of property developer Tecnisa, Jose Isaac Peres, founder of shopping
mall company Multiplan, and Afranio Barreira Filho, owner of the
restaurant chain Coco Bambu.
Brazil’s Democracy Under Threat
Bolsonaro says democracy is now under serious attack in the country.
He has accused these unelected judges of practising political
interference and trying to deploy a judicial dictatorship.
“Brazil is on the road to dictatorship. This is how dictatorships
start now. You lose your freedom little by little, then one day you
look, and you are completely tied up,” he told network Jovem Pan.
After knowing all these extraordinary things, who would disagree? The
democratic system is clearly being undermined by the replacement of
the rule of law with the rule of judges. In fact, the premise that
unelected judges know better what is best for the nation is elitist
and utterly undemocratic.
It is ironic to see that now the major threat to democracy in Brazil
now comes not from elected politicians but from a highly anachronistic
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