UNICEF’s Goodwill Envoy a Messenger of ill-Will, Complain Critics

UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Priyanka Chopra holds 5 year old Suleiman during a visit to his home in Amman, Jordan on 10 September 2017. Credit: UNICEF/UN0120373/Rich

By Thalif Deen
UNITED NATIONS, Aug 29 2019 – When two-time Wimbledon tennis champion Boris Becker, a UNICEF goodwill ambassador, refused to make a commitment not to play in South Africa, a country blacklisted for its apartheid policies, the UN children’s agency stripped him of the prestigious title, back in October 1987.

“I will be 20 years old this year and I am a good professional tennis player, but I think that I am too young to enter politics,” Becker said, while the then West German government protested the UNICEF firing, backing one of its own nationals.

And now 32 years later, another UNICEF goodwill ambassador Priyanka Chopra, a movie star and fashion model of Indian origin, is mired in a political controversy over her implicit support for the Indian armed forces poised to go to war with neighboring Pakistan over the disputed territory of Jammu and Kashmir.

“So, the goodwill ambassador has become a messenger of ill-will,’ Masood Haider, a longstanding UN correspondent for Pakistan’s leading English newspaper “Dawn”, told IPS.

At a press briefing August 22, Haider complained that UNICEF did not respond to a message seeking comments.

“I asked you about this Priyanka Chopra, the [Goodwill Ambassador], and I called UNICEF, and I called the press office… But nobody has responded at all.”

UN spokesperson Stephane Dujarric told reporters: “I can tell you that, for any Goodwill Ambassador, whether it’s Ms. Chopra or anyone else, we expect them to adhere to impartial positions when they speak on behalf of UNICEF or any other organization,” he said.

“When they speak in their personal capacity, they retain the right to speak about issues of interests or concern to them. Their personal views, however, do not reflect those of the agency with which they may be affiliated with,” he added.

According to an October 1987 report in the New York Times, Horst Cerni, a director of special projects for UNICEF, said Becker’s association with UNICEF, which began in April 1986, had been terminated because Becker had failed to say that he would never return to South Africa.

Becker was blacklisted by the UN Center Against Apartheid after he played in South Africa as a member of the West German Federation’s junior team in 1984. He was, however, only 16 years old at the time, traveling with the team and trying to qualify for the main draw of a grand prix event, the Times reported.

Credit: UNICEF/2017/Jordan/Sebastian Rich

UNICEF says its Ambassadors are leaders in the entertainment industry, representing the fields of film, television, music, sports and beyond.

“They demonstrate leadership in their professions and serve as positive role models through their work”.

As the first to instill an Ambassador Programme, with the appointment of celebrated actor Danny Kaye in 1954, UNICEF’s envoys have played a critical role in raising awareness of the needs for children, and have continued to use their talent and fame to fundraise, advocate, and educate on behalf of UNICEF, says the children’s agency.

Together, UNICEF Ambassadors have proven that being a public figure can be a powerful tool in mobilizing the support necessary to improve the lives of children and ensure their basic human rights

Salim Lone, a former Director of the United Nations News and Media Division, told IPS that Chopra, with tens of millions of social media followers, made an alarming comment recently.

“War is not something that I’m really fond of, but I am patriotic,” was how the Bollywood/Hollywood superstar, who was appointed UNICEF goodwill ambassador in 2016, described her views on war amid the rising tensions between India and Pakistan, he pointed out.

“She had a few months earlier tweeted her support for her country’s armed forces as Indian jets bombed an alleged militant camp in Pakistan, risking another war, potentially nuclear this time,” said Lone, a former Spokesman for the head of the UN mission in Iraq.

He said the entire world’s stability is being beset by an escalating degradation of long-held global values, many of which were pioneered and entrenched by the United Nations.

“The organization will undermine its greatest strength, its moral credibility, if it itself succumbs to this rising scourge”

Had UNICEF spoken to Ms. Chopra after her unfortunate February tweet, as it once used to do in such situations, she would not now have gone farther and suggested that patriotism required support for war, argued Lone.

After the outcry against Chopra’s remarks about not “really loving war”, the UN explained that its envoys adhere to UN guidelines whenever they speak on behalf of the organization. However, they are free to express personal opinions on other occasions.

“That is intolerable,” said Lone. “If someone who expresses racist or misogynistic or indeed pro-war sentiments in the name of freedom of personal expression can be kept on as a UN ambassador, then the UN will be seen to be actively contributing to the degradation it was created to end”.

In any event, he said, about three decades ago, another renowned UNICEF ambassador Boris Becker played in a tennis tournament in apartheid South Africa. When he refused to give UNICEF reassurance he wouldn’t do so again, that relationship was terminated, Lone added.

Meanwhile, in a testy exchange of words at a cosmetic industry’s trade show event in California in mid- August, Chopra said; “I have many, many friends from Pakistan, and I am from India, and war is not something that I’m really fond of but I am patriotic.”

“So, I’m sorry if I hurt sentiments to people who do love me and have loved me, but I think that all of us have a sort of middle ground that we all have to walk.”

The writer can be contacted at thalifdeen@ips.org

The Arctic: Earth´s Last Frontier

By Jan Lundius
STOCKHOLM / ROME, Aug 29 2019 – The last frontier for utilizing and maybe even exhausting Earth´s natural resources is opening up in the Arctic and some of the world´s wealthiest nations are trying to secure their piece of the cake. Some act openly, others are more secretive – recently one of the competitors entered the game in a remarkably unwieldy manner.

Lysekil is a picturesque town by Skagerak, a strait between Sweden, Denmark and Norway, opening up to the North Sea. For many years its main income came from salted herring and train oil, while it during the 19th century developed into a popular spa and bathing resort. Most Swedes know Lysekil as the birthplace of Kalle´s Caviar a popular sandwich spread of creamed smoked roe produced by Abba Seafood, a brand that provided the name for a Swedish pop group of world renown.

Many Swedes were astonished when Gunter Gao Jingde, chairman of a Hong Kong private investment company, Sunbase International (Holdings) Ltd., gave the city council of Lysekil an offer they did not refuse. Sunbase was established in 1991 and is active in property investment, transport, infrastructure and technology. It was in late November 2017 that Sunbase´s long-running and secretive negotiations with members of Lysekil´s city council were revealed. At this tiny community of 7,500 inhabitants Gunter Gao Jingde´s representatives proposed the construction of Scandinavia’s largest port. Town officials accepted the offer without any public consultation. Under Swedish law, the power to approve such projects is entirely in the hands of the local municipalities and cannot be challenged from above. Lysekil´s city council was tempted by a generous offer that did not only include an expansion of the town harbour, making it deep enough to receive huge vessels from all over the world. On top of that, Sunbase promised to expand the road net and railway system reaching Lysekil, bridging the nearby fjord of Gullmarn and invest in schools, hospitals and care for the elderly.

It was a reportage aired on Swedish national radio that alerted the people of Lysekil. Several of them declared that their elected representatives had taken them for a ride. The chairman of the City Council vented his anger over these “exaggerated protests”. After all, he and his colleagues had negotiated a deal with a foreign, private firm promising a bright future for Lysekil and he pointed out that VOLVO, the Swedish prestigious car manufacture in neighbouring Gothenburg, was a subsidiary of the Chinese motor company Geely. However, local protests became even more vociferous when it was revealed that Gao Jingde was not only a member of the small-circle Election Committee which selects the Chief Executive of the Hong Kong Special Administration Region Government of the People´s Republic of China and since 1993 also a member of the Chinese People´s Political Advisory Conference a legislative advisory body of the People´s Republic of China. Furthermore, Sunbase is closely connected with the Chinese military establishment, among other things it owns the 18 Hong Kong land areas occupied by military installations and Gao Jingde has personally financed the publication of various books about China´s military forces.

Local opponents to the sale of Lysekil´s harbour became particularly upset when they could not be provided with any concrete guarantees that the planned port would not serve any Chinese military interests. Petitions signed by a long list of opponents to the Chinese deal was submitted to Lysekil´s city council and while facing negative publicity and local anger Sunbase finally called off the entire venture. 1

Why would China be interested in purchasing a port from a small, Swedish town and turn it into a huge state-of-the-art seaport structure? Most commentators agree that the initiative was probably related to the Chinese Government´s global strategy of infrastructure development and worldwide investment – The Belt and Road Initiative. The Lysekil port would become one link in what has been referred to as the Polar Silk Road, which through Chinese controlled ports and industrial hubs would be connected with a Pan-Asian Silk Road. From a transport point of view such an Arctic thoroughfare makes sense since sailing a container ship from China to northern Europe via the Arctic Sea north of Russia would shorten the alternative journey time via the Suez canal by 10 days.

However, this is probably not the only reason for China´s interest in the Arctic realms. Climate change and global warming are currently opening up access to Arctic riches, wetting the appetite of nations bordering the Arctic sea, and not only them – China has demonstrated a great interest in the untapped resources that have laid frozen and inaccessible in the distant north. The Arctic conceals huge deposits of minerals as well as an estimated 13 percent of the world´s oil reserves and 30 percent of the natural gas reserves.

Into this sensitive web of delicate, diplomatic maneuvers and carefully constructed plans for future exploitation of the Arctic U.S. President Donald J. Trump now has entered like an elephant in a porcelain shop, or as the Danish Newspaper Berlingske described his appearance – a clown stumbling into a circus ring. While the Danes´ were preparing for a state visit of the American President he suddenly offered to buy Greenland from them, declaring:

    Essentially it’s a large real estate deal. A lot of things can be done. Ownership of Greenland is hurting Denmark very badly because they’re losing almost $700 million a year carrying it. 2

The Danish Government was flabbergasted, the Royal Court scandalized and the Greenlanders horrified, one of them, Else Mathiesen told local media:

    You can’t just buy an island or a people. This sounds like something from the era of slavery and colonial power. 3

The Danish Pime Minister stated:

    Greenland is not for sale. Greenland is not Danish. Greenland belongs to Greenland. I strongly hope that this is not meant seriously. 4

An undeterred Trump replicated:

    Denmark essentially owns it [Greenland]. We’re very good allies with Denmark, we protect Denmark like we protect large portions of the world. So the concept came up and I said ”Certainly I’d be strategically interested,”and we’d be interested, but we’ll talk to them a little bit.” It’s not No1 on the burner, I can tell you that. 5

After the debacle a deeply hurt Trump canceled his visit to Denmark, declaring:

    I thought the prime minister’s statement that it was an absurd idea was nasty.
    It was not a nice way of doing it. She could have just said, ”No, we’d rather not do it.” She’s not talking to me, she’s talking to the United States of America. They can’t say: ”How absurd.” 6

Trump´s ungainly behaviour has ripped open a sensitive scare. Greenland was until 1953 a Danish colony. In 1979, the Danish government granted home rule to the vast territory and in 2008 agreed to allow Kalaallit Nunaat, as it is called in Inuit, to gradually assume responsibility for policing, jurisdiction, mining and border control, while the Danish government retains its control of foreign affairs and defense. However, an increasing confidence fuelled by prospects of controlling the vast natural resources of the Arctic Sea make many of Greenland´s 55,000 inhabitants, the majority of them Inuit, favouring full independence from Denmark and Trump´s lack of diplomatic skills and ignorance of people´s rights have reignited the debate.

Like during the late 19th century´s ”scramble for Africa”, world powers are now in for a race to control riches that actually belong to others. A competition incited by greed and recklessness that may prove harmful to indigenous peoples, the environment and even world peace, in particular if stakeholders express dated opinions and behave with the blatant brutality of the current U.S. President.

1 Olssson, Jojje (2017) “Sanningen bakom Kinas miljardinvestering i Lysekil.” Fokus, December 29. Sunbase closed the negotiations on the 30th of January 2018: “Ingen kinesisk hamn i Lysekil”, Göteborgsposten, 30 January, 2018.
2 Pengelly, Martin (2019) ”Trump confirms he is considering attempt to buy Greenland,” The Guardian, 18 August.
3 Ibid.
4 Ibid.
5 Tisdall, Simon (2019) ”Trump´s bid to buy Greenland shows that the ´scramble for the Arctic´ is truly upon us,” The Guardian, 24 August.
6 Ibid.

Jan Lundius holds a PhD. on History of Religion from Lund University and has served as a development expert, researcher and advisor at SIDA, UNESCO, FAO and other international organisations.

Festival Pays Tribute to Singer, Civil-Rights Icon Nina Simone

By A. D. McKenzie
LONDON, Aug 29 2019 – It must be a daunting prospect to sing songs made famous by the incomparable Nina Simone, but performers Ledisi and Lisa Fischer brought their individual style to a BBC Proms concert in London, honouring Simone and gaining admiration for their own talent.

The show, “Mississippi Goddam: A Homage to Nina Simone”, paid tribute to the singer, pianist and civil rights campaigner – a “towering musical figure” – at the Royal Albert Hall on Aug. 21, more than 16 years after Simone died in her sleep in southern France at the age of 70.

This was a celebration to recognise her “unique contribution to music history”, according to the Proms, an annual summer festival of classical music that also features genres “outside the traditional classical repertoire”.

The concert’s title refers to the song that marked a turning point in Simone’s career, when she composed it in fury and grief following the murder of civil rights activist Medgar Evers in Jackson, Mississippi, and the deaths of four African-American girls in the bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama, in 1963.

Performing the song at the tribute, New Orleans-born vocalist Ledisi held nothing back. She put all the anger and anguish that the lyrics required into her rendition, creating one of the high points of the concert.

The composition stood out particularly because of the contrast between the lyrics and the rhythm, and Ledisi – who’s also an actress and writer – emphasized this disparity. While the “tune has an almost fun-filled, pulsating vibe” (as conductor Jules Buckley put it in his written introduction to the show), the message itself is uncompromising.

“It speaks of murder, of dashed dreams and severe inequality, and it shattered the assumption that African-Americans would patiently use the legislative process to seek political rights,” Buckley wrote. Listeners got the full context, and they were reminded that some things have not changed much in the United States.

Conducting the Metropole Orkest, whose members played superbly, Buckley said that in putting together the programme he wanted to shine a light not only on Simone’s hits but also on a “few genius and lesser-known songs”. With the sold-out concert, he and the performers succeeded in providing the audience a clear idea of the range of Simone’s oeuvre.

The concert began with an instrumental version of “African Mailman” and segued into “Sinnerman”, the soulful track about the “wrongdoer who unsuccessfully seeks shelter from a rock, the river and the sea, and ultimately makes a direct appeal to God”, to quote Alyn Shipman, the author of A New History of Jazz who compiled the programme notes.

The orchestral introduction paved the way for Lisa Fischer’s arresting entrance. With her shaved head and flowing black outfit, she moved across the stage, singing “Plain Gold Ring” in her inimitable voice, evoking the image of an operatic monk. The two-time Grammy winner displayed the genre-crossing versatility for which she has become known, using her voice like a musical instrument and hitting unexpected lows before again going high. The audience loved it.

Fischer introduced Ledisi, who wore a scarlet gown (before changing to an African dress after the intermission), and the two women then took turns singing Simone’s repertoire, expressing love for the icon as well as appreciation for each other’s performances.

They both kept topping their previous song, and the temperature rose with “I Put a Spell on You” (Ledisi), “Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood” (Fischer), “Ne me quitte pas” (poignantly rendered by Ledisi) and “I Loves You, Porgy” (memorably delivered by Fischer).

Then there was, of course, “Mississippi Goddam”, which followed a haunting, syncopated “Dambala”, a song made famous by Bahamian musician Tony McKay aka Exuma, who inspired Simone. Fischer performed “Dambala” with the requisite mysticism, getting listeners to shake to the beat.

Back-up vocalists LaSharVu, comprising three powerhouse singers, also contributed to the energy and success of the concert. Two of them joined Ledisi and Fischer for an outstanding and moving presentation of “Four Women” – Simone’s 1966 song about the lives of four African-American women that has become an essential part of her artistic legacy.

For other songs, LaSharVu teamed up with the orchestra to provide “percussive accompaniment” through clapping, and the orchestra’s skill on moving from reggae (“Baltimore”) to gospel underpinned the overall triumph of the show.

The concert ended with an encore, as Fischer and Ledisi performed “Feeling Good” to a standing ovation, and to comments of “fantastic”, “fabulous”, “amazing” and other superlatives.

The show was not the only part of the homage to Simone. Earlier in the day, the BBC’s “Proms Plus Talk” programme had featured a discussion of the “life, work and legacy” of the singer, with poet Zena Edwards and singer-musician Ayanna Witter-Johnson interviewed by journalist Kevin Le Gendre, author of Don’t Stop The Carnival: Black Music In Britain.

During this free public event, held at Imperial College Union, the three spoke of the impact Simone has had on their work and recalled her style and performances. They also discussed the abuse she suffered from her second husband and the painful relationship she had with her only daughter, Lisa, whom Simone in turn physically abused.

Witter-Johnson said that Simone had inspired her to feel empowered in performing different genres, so that she could sing and play music across various styles. “Her courage, outstanding musicianship and love of her heritage will always be a continual source of inspiration,” she said later.

In response to a comment from an audience member, a publisher, that Simone had been an extremely “difficult” person, Edwards stressed that Simone had been a “genius” and could be expected to not have an easy personality. Le Gendre meanwhile pointed to the difficulties Simone herself had experienced, with relationships, record companies, and the American establishment, especially after she began defending civil rights.

In an email interview after the tribute, Le Gendre said Simone’s music had had a “profound effect” on him throughout his life.

“There are so many anthems that she recorded it is difficult to know where to start, but a song like ‘Four Women’ can still move me to tears because it is such an unflinchingly honest depiction of the black condition that African-Americans, African-Caribbeans and black Britons can easily relate to,” he said.

“The way she broaches the very real historical issues of rape on a plantation, girls forced into prostitution and the internal battles based on skin shade affected me a great deal because, having lived in the West Indies and the UK and visited America several times, I know that what she is talking about is simply the truth,” he added.

“There is a war within the race as well as between the races, and we will only move beyond self-destruction if we firstly recognise these painful facts. I continue to be inspired by her ability to ‘keep it real’ as well as her great musicianship. Above all else she has made me think, as well as listen and dance.”

The BBC Proms classical music festival runs until Sept. 14 at the Royal Albert Hall in London. A concert on Aug. 29 features “Duke Ellington’s Sacred Music”, with conductor Peter Edwards, pianist Monty Alexander and tap dancer Annette Walker.

(This article is published by permission of Southern World Arts News – SWAN. You can follow the writer on Twitter: @mckenzie_ale)

Triumph of the Right is Changing the World Order

Supporters of president-elect Jair Bolsonaro celebrated his triumph in the early hours of Oct. 29, in front of the former captain’s residence on the west side of Rio de Janeiro. The far-right candidate garnered 55.13 percent of the vote and began his four-year presidency on Jan. 1, 2019. Credit: Fernando Frazão/Agencia Brasil

By Katharina Hofmann De Moura
SAO PAULO, Brazil, Aug 29 2019 – The crisis of regional and multilateral institutions goes hand in hand with the international rise of right-wing populism. In the US, the UK, Russia, Italy, Poland, Hungary, Turkey, the Philippines and Brazil, we are experiencing the rise of right-wing populist politicians who throw headline-grabbing barbs at global compromises and the negotiating processes of supranational institutions such as the UN.

The more countries succumb to right-wing populism, the lower the chances of curbing climate change and social inequality and triggering the transition to a sustainable economic model.

While criticism of economic globalisation came predominantly from the left in the past, it’s currently becoming the core narrative of the Right. All over the world, right-wing populists are making protectionism the key theme of their regime.

They are using frustration with the social upheavals of neoliberal globalisation as a narrative. Job losses due to relocations, the decline of whole industrial sites, concerns about uncontrolled immigration and the search for identity in a multipolar world are skilfully exploited. The result is a historic, authoritarian-style populist ‘backlash’.

Despite their anti-globalisation rhetoric, however, the right-wing populists are not convincing protagonists against free trade. Rather, they are usually aligned with or even part of economic and financial elites. Their target group is the lower middle class who often does not actually benefit from their policies.

People in this electoral group feel that they are net losers from globalisation. In the populists’ promises, they see compensation for the perceived and sometimes real loss of national sovereignty.

Katharina Hofmann De Moura

Right-wing populists are making inroads into the centres of political power because they focus on the issues that are causing uncertainty and growing inequality: fear of downward social mobility, unemployment and lack of prospects.

The globalisation of right-wing populism

Alignment of these global right-wingers is progressing apace. For instance, current Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro based his election campaign on Donald Trump’s strategy. ‘The Movement’, headed by Steve Bannon, Trump’s former election campaign advisor, has successfully forged links in Europe and Latin America as well as the US.

The formula is always the same: building up the national economy as a bastion against foreign influence while attacking the left for supposedly neglecting the interests of the majority of the population in favour of a ‘politics of identity’ geared towards minorities and a snobbish urban electorate.

The Western model of liberal democracy, so heavily influenced by Germany in the post-war era, is visibly ailing.

The right-wing populists rely on dividing society and pit various population groups and their interests against each other. Brazil provides a powerful example of this. ‘Only vegans are interested in nature,’ was Bolsonaro’s response to accusations of large-scale environmental destruction.

Accordingly, ‘America First’ has become ‘Brasil Primeiro’. The focus on neoliberal economic policy is underpinned with contemptuous remarks against minorities, extending as far as incitement to violence. Society is extremely polarised and the centre is fading away.

In a WhatsApp campaign focused on inadequate public safety and spiralling corruption, Bolsonaro managed to win the elections in the largest and, until the controversial removal of Dilma Roussef in 2016, most progressively governed country in Latin America.

The Brazilian election campaign is a good example of how right-wing movements use ‘social’ media to get closer to the people. They convey a sense of direct influence and apparent power and portray themselves on Twitter as ‘down-to-earth’.

Denial, denial, denial

Science and facts are flatly denied. For instance, Brazil’s foreign minister Ernesto Araujo has dismissed climate change as a ‘Communist invention’. This statement echoes Trump’s anti-climate ideology.

Bolsonaro denies the authenticity of satellite images that show how deforestation of the Amazon has doubled since he took office, and summarily dismissed the director of the renowned INPE institute (Instituto Nacional de Pesquisas Espaciais) when it published the corresponding data.

Historical denial is also part of the package, such his ‘own account’ of the military dictatorship, shamelessly praising torture. Right-wing populist movements manipulate citizens and employ an anti-intellectualism, a hatred of the so-called ‘elite’ – which obviously means the educational rather than the economic elite.

The right-wing populist is a self-styled ‘straightforward man’ of the people. The anti-politician is coming to the fore. Ideological confrontation is the aim, not least in order to deflect from the results of his own economic policy – Brazil remains mired in an economic crisis, with growth of just 0.8 per cent.

The rise of right-wing populism is exacerbating the crisis of the international order. The unprecedented rise of China is weakening Europe’s position as a global democratic power, while also challenging the decades-long formula of ‘democracy combined with economic growth’.

Economic development just seems to be achievable more quickly without democracy, as democratic processes require votes and compromises and everything is based on dialogue. That’s why many countries in the South admire the rise of China and not division-wracked Europe.

The Western model of liberal democracy, so heavily influenced by Germany in the post-war era, is visibly ailing. Many analysts are already talking of the end of the liberal international order. Pressure on the European states will grow, as the upcoming emerging nations show no ambitions to assume regional or multilateral responsibility.

For instance, the Brazilian president says, ‘The Amazon is ours, not yours,’ and brooks no criticism from Europe. No international responsibility and no external interference is the guiding principle of authoritarian rulers.

Although it is currently weakened, Brazil has a well-organised left-wing civil society as well as trade unions and the Workers’ Party.

Gone is the optimistic era of global governance that only recently was largely shaped by the BRICS alliance (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa). BRICS embodied the ‘rise of the South’, aimed at building a better world on an equal footing with the North.

The euphoria of multilateralism has since faded away. Whereas there were still hopes in the early 2000s that the emerging nations would become ‘anchor countries’, taking responsibility for regional integration and democratisation, most of their heads of state are now populists.

They too are looking for new alliances, but under different premises. So, the world is indeed converging, but only because of a growth in populism in Europe rather than an upturn in democracy in the South. Whole new alliances are being forged.

For instance, on the UN Human Rights Council, Bolsonaro is backing the Arab nations, which criticise the term ‘gender’ and jointly aim to stand up for ‘traditional family values’.

So what’s left for the left?

Left-wing governments cannot resolve this dilemma in the short term. The left’s partly self-inflicted loss of power because of its naive embracing of globalised free trade has been underestimated.

Now, business owners like Blackrock and the large multinationals have hit on a hitherto unknown form of capital accumulation that produces a form of wealth redolent of feudal times. Big corporations control social media, enabling them to build up their own influence even more and further undermine that of politicians (a phenomenon now known as ‘corporate capture’).

According to research by the Folha de São Paulo newspaper, owners of large stores and restaurant chains paid 12 million reais (€3 million) per WhatsApp campaign to service providers, ensuring mass distribution of lots of fake news against the Workers’ Party (Partido dos Trabalhadores) in the Brazilian election campaign. Bolsonaro’s supporters then forwarded this fake news to their individual contact lists in a snowball process.

Democratic politicians were no match for the right in terms of their method – but that’s alright, as it is illegal. Before the 2018 elections, election campaign financing by companies was banned for the first time in Brazil’s history. The above-mentioned business owners had to pay fines, yet the elections were declared valid.

However, the Brazilian left is using social media to mobilise protests, for example against cuts to the education budget and health and social programmes, against liberalisation of weapons laws, in favour of women’s and LGTBI rights, and against an unfair pension reform.

Although it is currently weakened, Brazil has a well-organised left-wing civil society as well as trade unions and the Workers’ Party. And they will not readily give into right-wing populism.