Challenges to Brazilian Democracy Conference – Political Exile under the Bolsonaro Government


[NON-ENGLISH], good evening. [NON-ENGLISH],, I’m going
to speak in English. On behalf of the
Brazil Initiative, I would like to welcome you
to the seventh international conference on Brazil at Brown
University entitled Challenges to Brazilian Democracy. My name is James Green. I’m the director of
the Brazil Initiative, a member of the departments
of history and Portuguese and Brazilian studies
at Brown University. And along with Ramone Stern,
I’m one of the two organizers of this event tonight. The focus of the next
three days is the election of Jair Bolsonaro
to the presidency and its effects on
democracy in Brazil. We are particularly concerned
about his new policies and their effects
on Afro-Brazilians and indigenous populations,
the rights of rural workers and peasants, the
significant gains of LGBTQI, women, human rights in
general, the environment, academic freedom, and the
progressive social economic changes that have taken
place in recent years. However, we must first remember
that his electoral victory was part of a much larger and
broader international movement of the far right that
has assumed power through electoral
means in countries throughout the world
from Russia, Turkey, and the Philippines to Hungary,
Poland, Israel, and the United States. Using the legitimacy of
elections and the weapons of fake news the far
right governments have consolidated power and
then, through legislation and lawfare, have
begun to chip away at democratic and social rights. Brazil is now a significant
part of that international wave, and for this reason, Bolsonaro
has become legible to observers here in the United States who
generally know very little about Brazilian politics. It is also one of the reasons
that journalists have coined and the media has quickly
adopted the phrase that Bolsonaro is the
Trump of the tropics. And I like to remind
people in this country that he’s 10 times worse. Or perhaps we might
think of Trump as the Bolsonaro of the
north and just as bad. It is therefore no accident
that on December 1, 2018, over 200 academics and
a Brazilian activist– and that sometimes is an
overlapping category– came together at the
Columbia Law School for a daylong gathering
entitled The National Meeting for Democracy in Brazil. I’m going to let some
people get into the room. There’s seats over here, a
couple of seats over here, seat up here. Welcome. We’re going to fill up this– and then there’s going to
be space upstairs for people who are overflow audience. At that meeting in New York,
we established the US network for democracy in Brazil as
a decentralized, democratic, non-partisan national network
with three objectives. Are people getting earphones? [NON-ENGLISH SPEECH]. The three objectives
of the national network were to educate the US public,
about the current situation in Brazil to defend, progressive
social, and economic, political, and cultural
advances in Brazil, and to support social movements,
community organizations, NGOs, universities, and
activists who will be vulnerable in this
new political climate. At the event, we organized
14 working groups to focus on different aspects
of Bolsonaro’s policies and their impact on different
sectors of Brazilian society. We also set up a national
steering committee which currently has 40
affiliated organizations. We agreed to carry out a first
national campaign surrounding the March 14 anniversary of
the assassination of Marielle Franco and Anderson Gomes. And as far as we
can tell, 50 events took place throughout the
United States that week. We also suggested a
Washington DC strategy of strengthening the
excellent work of NGOs shows such as the
Center for Economic and Policy Research, Amazon
Watch, the AF of L-CIO, and the Washington
Office on Latin America to mention only some of the
groups involved in advocating for Brazil in Congress. And today, Jean Wyllys and Ben
Martel and Marina Adams and I went to meet with
Congressmen Cicilline here in his office in
Providence, one of the two congressmen from Rhode Island. He is very supportive
of the work we’re doing. He has signed the
letters from Congress about the situation in Brazil,
and we have another ally locally to help us on Brazil. And finally, Brown
University offered to set up the US
observatory for democracy in Brazil, a website
that will serve as a hub and a clearinghouse
to disseminate information in English about the
current situation in Brazil. And on Saturday,
one of the panels, Organizing Resistance
in the United States, will offer a preview of the
observatory’s website content. Currently, over 1,500
people are receiving our bi-weekly newsletter, and
234 colleges and universities throughout the United
States as well as activists from different groups and
cities across the nation. We currently have
supporters in 45 states and the District of Columbia,
Washington DC, and observers from Canada, Israel, and France
attending our monthly steering committee meetings. And if anyone has
any context who are interested in working on
Brazil in Hawaii, Alaska, North Dakota, Montana, and
Mississippi, please let us know because we want to reach
a goal of having members in all 50 states of the union. We can also be very excited
about the recent victory of activists affiliated
to the network in New York and around the country
and internationally who shamed the Natural
History Museum into canceling the use of its facilities
for the gala event sponsored by the US-Brazilian
Chamber of commerce honoring Jair Bolsonaro as well
as the decision of Mayor Bill de Blasio to veto
a second location. And it’s very interesting
because when Jair Bolsonaro went to the Chamber
of Commerce in 2017, people who attended
the meeting told me that the people in
finances and business were absolutely shocked
at how illiterate he was about the economy of Brazil. And yet a year later,
they’re honoring him as a great person, the man
of the year for Brazil. Over the years,
the departments of Portuguese and Brazilian
studies, faculty members in departments across
the university, and more recently the
Brazilian initiative have worked to promote the
study of Brazil and the United States. We have paid
particular attention to the situation
of Afro-Brazilians and other historically
marginalized groups, Brazil’s socioeconomic problems, and
the rich cultural production in media, literature,
and the arts. To encourage the study
of Brazil nationally, our provost supported
hosting the Brazilian studies association’s national
secretariat for a five year period from 2015 to 2020. And we organized the 12th
international conference of the Brazilian studies
association at Brown in 2016. At that meeting, the
[INAUDIBLE] membership passed a resolution titled
Brazilian Democracy is Seriously Threatened
that criticized the overreach of the judiciary
and the imminent impeachment of President Rousseff. In 2016, we invited
Congressman Jean Wyllys to spend a week at
Brown University, and we organized an
east coast tour for him to speak at Harvard, the CUNY
Grad Center, George Washington University, and
in Washington DC. And in 2017, Brown hosted
former President Dilma Rousseff, who was warmly welcomed. This semester, the
Watson Institute sent an invitation
to Fernando Haddad to come to Brown as a
distinguished lecturer. It was very wonderful
to see this was not an initiative of the
Brazil activists on campus, but the administration
said, we would like to invite Fernando
Haddad to come to Brown. And we’re very excited about
his coming sometime this fall. These public figures and others
who have been at Brown before– Fernando Cardoso
and Marina Silva– represent a large,
broad range of visions about Brazil and its future. And in that regard,
Brown has attempted to serve as a location where
serious academic debates can be conducted following
the mission of the Watson Institute, which is the building
that we’re in today, which is cosponsoring this event
and where we are also housed, which has the mission
of, and I quote, “promoting a just
and peaceful world through research, teaching,
and public engagement.” our intention in
this conference is to encourage such an open
debate about the ways in which democracy is
being threatened in Brazil and how we can support those
forces fighting for a peaceful and just Brazil free of
inequalities, racism, homophobia, misogyny,
environmental degradation, and socioeconomic disparities. Tonight’s opening panel will
set the stage for our analysis over the next three days. We also hope you will also
linger at a reception tonight after the panel. Friday and Saturday, we have
designed two two-hour sessions, three each day, asking the
three panelists to speak only 20 minutes so all of you
will have ample time to ask questions
and make comments about the issues
raised in that panel. We hope this conference
will be an opportunity to enrich our understanding of
the current situation in Brazil and how we can defend
democracy in that country. And so on Sunday morning, for
those of you who can still be with us, we plan to have
an open forum with academics and activists to discuss
tactics and strategies for the immediate future. Before beginning with
our opening panel, a few acknowledgments
are in order. I would like to first thank
the organizing committee, Geri Augusto, Bruno
Carvalho, from Harvard, who will be here
later in the week, Sidney Chalhoub from
Harvard, Keisha-Khan Perry, who has another commitment and
cannot be here, Leila Lehnen, who will be with us
tomorrow, and Ramone Stern, who deserves a special round
of applause for all the work he’s done. We are also very grateful for
the sponsors of this event– the Brazil Initiative, the
Afro Latino Research Institute at the Hutchins
Center at Harvard, the Open Society
Foundation, Watson Institute for International
and Public Affairs, the Kogan Institute
of Humanities, the Department of Portuguese
and Brazilian Studies, the Department of
History, the Center for Latin American
and Caribbean Studies, Africana Studies, and the
Center for Slavery and Justice. And in addition to
thanking Ramone, I would like to thank all
of the other people at Brown University– the Brazilian
visiting scholars, the professors, the students
who have built a community here of people who care about
Brazil and want to see changes in the country, a Brazil
that we dreamed of having and we’ve lost for
a period of time– and finally, our
two interpreters, who have the hardest job
in this whole conference, Jordan Jones and Marina
Adams from the Department of Portuguese and
Brazilian studies. [NON-ENGLISH SPEECH]. And so I would like to
call our three panelists to the stage Debora Diniz,
Jean Wyllys, and Marcia Tiburi, which will free up
three spaces in the front row. I’m going to introduce
them as a group and then let them speak, each
20 minutes approximately, in Portuguese. So Debora Diniz is
the Deputy Director of IPPF, the International
Planned Parenthood Foundation, World Health– WHR means what? Western Hemisphere. Western Hemisphere,
an organization dedicated to sexual and
reproductive health and rights in Latin America
and the Caribbean. She has brought several
high level cases to the Brazil high courts
about abortion rights. An anthropologist
by training, she is also a documentarian
whose eight films have received more than 50 awards. Debora is a visiting
scholar at the Brown Center for Latin American
and Caribbean Studies here. Jean Wyllys has a
BA In journalism from the Federal
University of Bahia and an MA in literature
and linguistics from the same university. Before being exiled, and all
of you probably know that he is currently outside the country
because of death threats, he had begun his third mandate
as a federal congressman in Rio de Janeiro representing
the [NON-ENGLISH],, the party of
socialism and freedom. He is a prominent defender
of human rights in Brazil. And Marcia Tiburi has a BA
in philosophy and visual arts and an MA and PhD in
philosophy and 14 other books, including How to Talk to
a Fascist, Politically Ridiculous, and Feminism
and Common Sense. She writes about culture,
gender, aesthetics, and politics. And the title of
our panel tonight is one that we
invented but perhaps is not precise in its content. But the opening
panel is what does it mean to be a political exile
under the Bolsonaro government. And I’m going to let the
panelists themselves explain their identity in this regard. So I’m going to ask each of
you to speak for 20 minutes, and Debora, [NON-ENGLISH]. [NON-ENGLISH SPEECH] Good night to all. It’s a pleasure to be here. I would like to think
in particularly Brazil Initiative for the
organization of this event and especially to James
Green, Professor Marcia Tiburi, and Jean Wyllys. I thank for the three of us
to be together in this moment. Today, I intend to answer the
question of this topic, what does it mean to be a political
exile, the first victim of this wave of
Bolsonaro’s power. Can the exile will be described
as an individual decision or a sentence imposed by the
militias who are terrorizing people in Brazil? For the people understand
the fragility of democracy in Brazil, it’s true
that Brazil still lives under a democratic regime. Its institutions
operate with reasonable, but it’s exactly in
this false of normality that the terror apparatus
moved into producing the figure of the exiled in
the still democratic regime. There is a hidden universe about
the democratic superficiality of the country. It is the parallel order
of the virtual militias– in Jean Wyllys’ case,
the real militias. If the virtual militias are
everywhere in the social media frenzy, in Brazil, they were
part of the power tactic that made possible
electing Bolsonaro, and they continue as a torture,
as a structure of terror. That way, I want to say
how the exile for us describes our existential
situation, showing the limits of the
juridical vocabulary in Brazil in order to understand
the new order of the force, the use of force, which is
if isn’t today by the tank, by the military, today is for
the tertiarization of terror. The imposition of fear
is made by the cowardice of militias that threaten
our lives and democracy. Exile is a very poor
juridical category. It’s not in the Constitution. What is in the
Brazilian Constitution is the forbidden sin
of banishing somebody from a country. So the state cannot do that. But as in the this interplay
between the silence on exiles and the forbiddance of banishing
that the vanishing of people is being used within
these parallel and clandestine
virtual militias. I don’t know who is
behind this, but I am sure that they have interests
in this dominant politics. I live depatriated. It was because of my
political situations that I was threatened. What I defend displeases
the Bolsonaro government and those who support him. I reject those that say
that I’m here voluntarily and that I’ve auto-exiled,
the self exiled. If I go back to
Brazil, it shall have to be under the protection
of the human rights secretariat, which would signify
a restricted participation in society, culture,
and politics. I couldn’t even be a professor. Going to university is now
a risk for me and to others. The text of the threats
of who threatens me also extends to my
students, to my family. They are messages with a
very explicit language. So the threatened
have extended from me to my husband,
who is here today. So juridically, I
chose to exile myself. I don’t receive pay. I have an authorization from
the University to be here, but I don’t get paid. I’m on leave. So in order to
disseminate fear, they expect us to make public
the threats we receive. I chose not to
take part in that. The University of Brasilia
knows all the threats that I’ve received. They are threats that also
massacre the university. They are addressed to me, to
my colleagues, to my family. So I left Brazil last September. And my husband, to tell
you a private story, he already started
his leave process with a new argumentation. He said their family
were separated. And then he solicited
within the partner junction in order to be able to come
with me within the law. His request was denied, and he
had to request a leave in order to, like I did, deal
with personal reasons. Even when he was threatened,
his family was threatened, it was understood that he had
no basis, no juridical basis, to ask for that. At the end of the story,
this juridical story, the choice to leave the
country was ours and not an act of survival or
protection to those who are attached to
us, like students. So like the juris– to the federal government,
I’m a federal server in leave in order to treat
personal matters. Like I said, that’s not true. I had to leave my career. I had to leave my life. I have no return possibility
because I had no protection. As a defender of human rights,
this is not a martyrdom. This is not a victimism. It’s a resistance act. So the militia, the
virtual militias apparatus, goes beyond the
individual exile. It is a sentence of banishment. So I will explain
four consequences, political consequences, of how
militias, the virtual militias, work, the border between
liberty and expression of hate, the disorganization of the
democratic institutions, the imposition of fear
as a tactic of dispersion of political opposition,
and the dispersion of the criminal possibility. Hate is not a
democratic language. It’s an instrument
for the extremist to operate with disinformation
and moral panic. They are agents of banishment
through clandestinity. There is a [? contagious ?]
between the universe of virtual militias
and the appearance of liberty of expression. I am threatened for that. There are awards
out for my killing, and I’m still described
as an enemy of Brazil. Hate goes from the clandestinity
to the contagious surface. And that’s the strength that
then moves the permanent risk for human rights defenders. Every question of
juridical matters needs to be answered in light
of this historical and political reason of the country, which
is our risk to the stability of the democratic principles
like the freedom of expression. Forbidding hate is
or not censorship– that’s our second question in
the public debate in Brazil. The right question is
who benefits from hate as a technique for dissemination
of hate and juridical confusion. So the second consequence
is a disorganization of the democratic organizations
to face the virtual militias. So we have a problem
in terms of facing this in the juridical system. The interpretation of the
nefarious effects of lies are not interpreted as
a democratic question in interest of all but of the
public power, political power. That’s why it fills with
false controversies. At the same time, that is
ignored as a criminal matter by the Minister of
Justice Sergio Moro. And it addressed the question
if the recent decision by the Supreme Court benefits
the power or the people. We are in a moment where
we have to question the integrity of the Supreme
Court in our country. So the third consequence is that
the virtual militias’ terror goes through various articles
of the penal code that pose threats to the physical person. But they have an important
symbolic importance, which is to silence those who
participate in a public debate. Jean Wyllys is no
longer a congressman. Marcia Tiburi participate
of the philosophical events or political after
being the candidate for the governor in Rio. Our distance has a secondary
effect in other people who share our beliefs. The fear of having the same
consequence, the same destiny, keeps people from
participating in debates. Just as there is
no self banishment, there is no self censor. People censor themselves
because they are afraid. Finally, there’s an intimate
relationship between militias and the current power. I don’t know if the
current power comments– if there is a relationship,
a hierarchical relationship, between them. But there is a responsibility. There is a sense, a
signifier responsibility. And in this confusion,
I don’t care about who sends me threats. What I care about is that
these anonymous subjects are substituted by
others just like them if they are caught
by the police. So my question is to whom
those who threaten me serve. It’s the same questions we have
to ask about global terrorism. In Brazil at this moment,
the virtual militias that impose to us banishment
serve the populist right installed in power. Thank you very much. Good evening, everyone. I’m thankful for– I’d
like to thank the Watson Institute, Brown
University, especially Jim Green for this new
visit to this institution. It’s an honor to
be here and to be next to two brilliant
women and two friends in this event in which we’ll
discuss the progress of Brazil and the reality of our
banishment or exile. And I announced in
January this year that I would not
go back to Brazil to assume the position
to which I was elected because of death
threats that were made against me and my family. It wasn’t a surprise to anyone
because people aren’t really– and this is kind of
a normal thing and– well, excuse me. It was a surprise
because people usually don’t give up power even if
they run a risk in doing that. I sent this message
from abroad, but I wanted to share the story
that led to that decision, and that story
goes back to 2011, my arrival in the
Chamber of Deputies as the first openly gay
member of parliament. And, you know I, wanted to
pursue those the questions and defend that community–
transsexuals and gay people and lesbians. And in that
parliament, there was a deputy who was openly gay,
but he didn’t show any pride in being gay. He didn’t assume that
homosexuality publicly. And so I wanted to
kind of fill this role, and while this deputy,
while this congressman had– he was ashamed to kind of
proclaim himself as gay, I wanted to be
different from him and show pride in
my homosexuality and open these issues
for LGBT questions. So my arrival at the parliament
in this way, at first glance, it put in check those
public discourses that criminalized
homosexuality or tried to make gay people feel shame. So I was disrupting
the order of society that those that perpetuated
fear and homophobia. And so you know, New
Pentecostal churches, especially those of the
evangelical groups, were very uncomfortable
with my presence there. And they really didn’t want
to share the same table, the same rooms with me. One especially was uncomfortable
with my presence there and the things
that I was raising for the agenda, the issues
in favor of human rights. And this guy, this person,
chose to then adopt his agenda as being tearing me
down, essentially. And so religious, chauvinist
talks and comments were adopted by this person
to kind of undermine me. So I started to
receive threats in 2011 because I was openly
gay and because I was proud of that, which,
for a homophobic society, homosexuality has
to be experienced as a shameful aspect. We have to be ashamed of it. You can’t claim
rights and equality like a heterosexual
person would be able to. So this person that I’m
talking to you about is Jair Bolsonaro, who is
now the president of Brazil, Brazilian Republic. In 2011, Bolsonaro insulted
me, and from that time until now, he’s been openly
insulting me in front of my colleagues, in front
of the Chamber of Deputies, in federal chambers
and government. And– they’re talking
about chamber and camera, which in Portuguese
are very similar words. But in front of the
cameras in the chamber, he would insult me
and with no shame. And you know, this was not taken
as a violence, as an aggression against me. And it wasn’t seen as breaking
the decorum of the parliament. People didn’t view this
as violence against me because homophobia,
they normalize these kinds of actions against
LGBT people, even somebody who is elected and who occupies
a position of power in the parliament. So after 2016– beginning
in 2016, I should say, you know, the 2014
elections happened. I was re-elected. And I had a majority. We were in kind of
the final stages of the democracy in Brazil
and the Lula period in Brazil, which were kind of golden
years and all of the progress social progress that was
gained during that period. So I represented those
gains and those changes that happened in our country
and so I defended the freedom, personal liberties. And I had the support
of people who were concerned with those issues. In 2016, when I– excuse me, in 2014, when I
was starting my second term and I was defending
Dilma Rousseff– excuse me, when I was, you know,
campaigning for Dilma Rousseff, I noticed a change in the
relationships with these people to me. And in 2016, the threats,
they went to the next level. And these threats
started coming not just from the religious
fundamentalists but also anti-labor party people. And there’s this these
three groups, you know– who have interest
in the agriculture, in weapons, and in the Bible–
in other words, evangelists. These people are those who
support the kind of threats. So these people, they’re
elected to power, but they’re beholden to these
groups these arms groups, these large ranchers, and
they exert pressure on them to pass laws and to
defend their interests. And that’s often at
the expense of the poor and those who don’t have the
means to defend themselves. So Christian fundamentalists
are another group, the Catholic church, those
who are anti-feminist, and those who are Pentecostal
fundamentalists who are homophobic and this
anti-feminist sentiment. So this political
group, these groups that were in the chamber,
you see this phenomenon in other aspects of society. And so they started threatening
me starting in 2016. And they weren’t just about
the fact of my being gay. They were also because I was
defending democratic values and defending Dilma’s
government because she was democratically elected. And we know that
her impeachment was nothing more than a
coup made possible by groups who hadn’t won
in four election cycles. And so in 2018, these threats
went to another level still, and they started to do– they started to have to
deal with organized crime. And [INAUDIBLE] has tentacles
in the state, in the government, and you know, they dominate. They control territories in
places like Rio de Janeiro Michel Temer became president
after the coup, and to become more popular, to kind of– because he was very unpopular. To try and increase
his popularity, he talked a lot about
public security, which was a big issue at that time. And it was a very hot issue for
the extreme right in Brazil. And so he started
to lie blatantly and to harass and to go
to the burials of people and attack their families so
that the extreme right would assume this role. And they were kind of the
voice of that extreme right. So one of their questions
or one of their issues is public order, right? Them versus us, the problems
like crime in cities. And rather than
solving the problems that are the cause of
crime, they blame people. And so public security is
a really important issue. And so Michel Temer,
the now president, decided to address this issue. And he decided to kind of impose
public security in Rio, which becomes a kind of
necro politics, to cite a well-known
South African thinker. And this is a state in which
criminal organizations belong to the state. And so the federal intervention
in the public security resulted in, you know,
they’re putting themselves in these relationships. And so the democracy in
Brazil was in decline. And I would say the
peak of this was the assassination of
Marielle Franco, who was an openly gay Congresswoman
and who shared her agenda, has a lot in common with mine. So the murder, the
assassination, of Marielle sent a very strong message to
the progressive– you know, the left that those who oppose
the anti-democratic groups and the militias, virtual
and real militias– so the real militias
that function in these states who
include policemen, who include government
officials, these militias, they also participate. They’re also part of
the virtual militias and go to chat rooms on the web. And they talk about
homosexuality. And these are the places
from which threats, death threats against
me and Marcia Tiburi– that’s where these
threats come from. So these three groups started to
threaten me in a very real way. And you, know as a punishment
from my having put myself in the position of defending
Dilma and defending democracy, they wanted to
punish me for this. And they started to kind of
slander me in a very real way, in a very focused way. And they wanted to
destroy my image and push me out
of the government. And so if I weren’t
physically eliminated, I would be symbolically
eliminated. So this process of slander
focused on my homosexuality and try to represent the LGBT
community as something that’s abject, that’s unacceptable. And fake news,
which are not new– you know, they go
back to the Nazism and to fascism and populism. But the fake news gains a
new aspect, a new power, with technology,
with the internet. And so they erase the
line between truth and lies, between
facts and versions. So they use pieces of
truth, and then they twist them to kind of
get their message across. And they rely on
biases, prejudices, that people have that are
oftentimes subconscious. So people don’t know they have
these biases, these prejudices. But fake news kind of
pulls it out of them and capitalizes on that. And so this causes
a moral panic, this idea that homosexuals have
unbridled, aggressive sexuality that’s dangerous to society. And so they made me into
a kind of a prisoner within my own country. I couldn’t even, you
know, act publicly because people
would threaten me. People would insult me. And I’m not talking about
people who threaten me before. I’m talking about normal
people, just random people. They would see me, and they
would think it’s normal that people would threaten me. And then they saw this as a
way of fighting the enemy– the enemy of the nation,
the enemy the family, the enemy of the fatherland or
the motherland, which was me. And after Marielle’s
murder, I realized that the threats were– they could actually,
you know, become real. Marielle was chosen based
on a bunch of prejudices to send a message. prejudice, bias– they thought
if, you know, if they– that was the motivating cause. They thought if they killed
this bisexual black woman that there would be no reaction
in society and that, you know, we think she was chosen because
there were no threats made against her before. But those people were wrong. They thought there would
be no consequences, but her death has caused
a huge reaction in Brazil. But it wasn’t enough for me to
feel like I was out of danger. And so I was escorted
24 hours a day. I had bodyguards. But it wasn’t everywhere. So it was only at my job. So I was just at home
or I was at work. And this was not life for me. It was killing me inside. So if I wasn’t killed,
you know, physically, if I wasn’t going to
be killed by someone who was going to kill
a gay man with impunity and not be punished, then
they wanted to kill me kind of inside, emotionally. And so I began to– this idea of leaving
the government, you know, starting to
develop in my mind. I still wasn’t planning
on leaving the country but leaving my office. And I realized– it was
an individual decision to, as Debera said, but
it was an injunction. I was kind of forced
to make this decision by this new state,
this new government, this new administration. And so what became clear
to me was that Bolsonaro was going be elected. People didn’t listen to me. People, even in my own political
party, they didn’t realize. They didn’t believe me because
people in my political party, they were worried about
the possibility that– you know, they were
talking about their agenda was more economic. And people didn’t realize that
this was an ideological battle, that this was not a
question of just economics. It was a question of
democracy, of the integrity of our government. And Bolsonaro– they
would say, you know, he doesn’t get any airtime. He’s never going to win. And security wasn’t an issue
for people on the left. It was for the Liberals. And so they were sure
that Bolsonaro would not win the election. So they weren’t
part of a minority. They didn’t live that reality
and experience that reality as I did, as blacks did, as
all the minorities– you know, indigenous people– this growth of
the extreme right. And so for this reason,
people didn’t listen to me. They told me I had the
Cassandra syndrome, which is the syndrome of being
able to see the future but not being able to convince
anyone that it’s actually going to happen. So Cassandra wasn’t
able to convince people because she was a woman. In my case, it’s
because I’m a gay man. So I decided to
leave the country. I decided to take
advantage of this time to leave so that I could– that these wounds
that are still open could heal because it wasn’t
just a threat against me. It was against my family. But the impact of this
decision was so great that from then to now, I still
keep thinking about this. And I want to defend
democracy not just in Brazil but in the world. And these new populisms, these
new populists of the extreme right, they have something
in common beyond fake news. They’re using fake news
and questionable electoral processes. They look back on a glorious
past that never existed. They talk about law and order– you know, them versus us. And them is always minorities. And in all these
processes, there’s a kind of homophobia that– you know, when I use
the term homophobia, I want to talk about
the moral panic that is involved with
gender, sexuality, masculinity being threatened
by the empowerment of women and the LGBT community. And so this is why I continue
on this front defending democracy in Brazil and
those who stay there because lots of people can’t
do what I and Marcia Tiburi and Debora Diniz did. They can’t leave the country. Many can’t. You know, they’re still there. They’re threatened. And the way to protect these
people is to raise our voice and speak on their behalf. Thank you. [NON-ENGLISH SPEECH] I’d like to think James
Green for this invitation to participate in this
special moment for all of us. And I’d like to
thank the University, and I’d like to say that– I’d like to express my joy
in being here next to Debora and Jean Wyllys, the fact
that we’re alive here, and to have this
opportunity to speak to you. So we don’t have much time, and
I may have written too much. But I thought it was
better to write this text. I’m going to publish it
on a blog on Wednesday, the full thing. And here, I’m going to
do kind of a summary and I’m going to
read some passages. But I needed to write
this text because I’m tired of telling my own story. And in these last
few months, you know, talking to
institutions that protect us and telling this
story to friends, we get tired of our own story. And writing it helps us to
describe it, to elaborate, and it’s just a different way
to express and to describe our experience. And it allows us
to reflect as well and, you know, the
power of testimony as well as a witness that
our experiences are part of. So I’m going to start reading
this text because there are some issues that I
feel are really important. And in between, I’ll– I’ll stop in between to talk
about what happened to me. And you know, I’ll
try to be objective. So dear friends in Brazil,
there’s a wound in Brazil right now. We all know what’s
going on, and there are unthinkable things
that are happening today that amount back to fascism. And you know, this has
been present in the past and is present now. All of President
Bolsonaro’s project to destroy our country with the
lie or the illusion of building it up again is
his whole project. So he is influenced by the
groups that have weapons, that produce weapons and sell them. And so he’s implicated. He’s related to these groups. And we call this psycho power. We’re trying to fight against
it on different fronts, and we’re all threatened. It’s the anti-intellectual fight
that fascists have engaged in throughout history
that people that have fallen into their
trap maybe haven’t had time to realize what’s going on. You know, it’s
never false to say that there’s genocide
in Brazil just like genocide of the LGBT
community and other minorities. And so this is done very subtly,
very secretly, but it’s real. And I believe in this
moment of Brazilian history that it’s necessary
to tell the story, to remove from the shadows
what’s being hidden. And we need to
show what’s hidden. We need to each
assume our own role and take a part in
fighting this wave. And I’m grateful to have
my friends here next to me, as we are witnesses of
the persecution of which we’re victims. We’re called witches, you know? And we know what
that feels like. Witches are– you know, women,
LGBT people are called witches, and they aren’t– witches are not able to
survive and tell their stories. But we’ve survived so far. And my role as a
professor of philosophy is to restore truth to Brazil. And this Operation
Car Wash is one of the lies that is used to
attack the ex-president Lula. And there are many supporters
throughout the government and throughout this
car wash operation. And our participation in
this debate is important. There’s a lot of threats
against professors and teachers in which they can’t talk about
sexuality openly in school. And there’s this repression, and
there’s this Jean and Debora. And we were all
persecuted for this. We were fired from universities
because we spoke out about gender and in
favor of legalizing abortion and things like that. And so there’s a
production of an imaginary that’s really pitted against
any perspective, any research, any serious academic work,
that has as its goal expanding human rights. So in this way, we
need to talk about the structural
institution of the state but also be attentive
to the questions of how we think about the world,
how we think about fascism. And I wrote this book, How
to Talk With a Fascist. And you know, Jean Wyllys just
talked about the Cassandra complex, being able
to see the future but not being able to convince
anyone that it was actually going to happen. You know, one of
my books was not– this book was not
published at the time because it had the
word fascist in it. And then I had to have this
book Political Ridicule or Ridiculous Politics. And I talk about the coup
against Dilma Rousseff, and these books were
also used against me by the groups that
came to attack me. And so I am talking
about these books because my own story is and
of my persecution is confused. It’s intertwined with
the attacks on my books. So the titles are attacked. I’m attacked by these
groups through the attacks on the books. And I’ll tell you
a few details later that might be
interesting to you guys. So we should talk
about witch hunts and what they have
against real people and also against what they
have in terms of diffuse and generic, broad arguments. And one of these witches– well, how these witches are
persecuted, are hunted down, are burned, you know,
things like preventing women and children
from gaining a voice. And this has been
something that’s happened throughout
Brazil’s history and now. We’re being hunted by the
same groups as always. Today, I got a message from
a young person on Instagram, and I quote. “Do society a favor. Die.” End quote. I always wanted to kind
of discard and ignore these kinds of
questions even though I receive thousands of them. And in your case, Jean
Wyllys and Debora, maybe it’s probably
even more than that. I wanted to ignore those. I’d like to think that
we’re just in a bad moment, in a funk, and that
we’ll snap out of it. You know, Lula’s
government was able to have some progress in terms of
social rights, human rights. But as time has gone
by, I’m realizing that these kinds of comments
and threats are in– they’re a trend, you know? They’re fashionable today. Since 2013 from now, the coup
in 2016, all of these things are coalescing into this
environment in Brazil in which these kinds of
comments are normalized. Debora talked about fear, hate. You know, hate is
definitely related to fear, and it’s necessary
to stimulate hate so that we can destroy
the symbolic context of the democracy. Hate is the diabolic element
that corrupts politics. So discourse of hate and
of threatening people– which, I’m used to. I’m used to being criticized,
attacked, because I’m a woman and I’m a public figure. And I wrote a book or
a text that is the, you know, general
theory of cussing people out or of being criticized. And so I wanted to kind of break
that discourse down and talk about how you can
kind of move forward that as a public figure. And this hate, this work,
this methodological work of criticizing people
and of, you know, trying to break
them down has really become stronger recently. So threats are not just
discourse of hate now. They reflect a disposition
of wanting to act soon. And Adorno, he talks about this. He talks about the
potential fascist, who’s very present in my analyses. The potential fascist is one
who’s always ready to act. He’s always– at any moment,
he can do an act of violence, which is– you know, he’s encouraged to
do by the collective imaginary of the fascists. And so, you know, from
thinking to acting, that’s what I’m talking about. And in this moment
in Brazil, of course, this is part of my story. I wrote a book called
The Delirium of Power– you know, collective
power and madness. And I try and
develop a theory that tries to explain how
this psychosis has become so widespread in
Brazil and has become not just a psychiatric category
but a political category. And this is Bolsonaro’s
big tool in these days. And so we’ve moved
from discourses of hate to threats and to
readiness to act. It’s not just, I hate you. It’s I’m going to kill you. It’s I whenever I see
you, when I see you, I’m going to ask for
you to sign your book. And then I’m going to
shoot you in the head. I’m going to shoot you
in the forehead right after you sign this book. And that was one of the threats
that I received recently. It was a young kid who said
this to me on Instagram. And he exhibited a certain
type of masculinity and, you know,
this macho figure. You Know, because I looked
at through his profile later and saw that, you know,
this man, this young boy, is probably a– he’s a potential fascist. It’s possible that he would
go from thinking to action and to want that
people like me die. You know, these things are
developed on social networks. We are fried. We are attacked on by fake
news trying to destroy our reputation and our image. And you know, any
person on the street, you know, they want
to break us down. When I was in Brazil, I
was staying home more. I wouldn’t really go
out on the street. But I would still,
every once in a while, run into people
who would say, I’m really proud of being a fascist. Lula’s in prison,
and you’re a piranha. You know, they would cuss
me out and say things like this to me
that were apparently on the tip of their tongue. And it was incredible to me
that these regular people are capable of saying
these things to me. And so I want to– I think it’s clear
that we are all, to use a category
that’s now famous, we’re in a state of exception. And we are homo socket. In other words,
we’re like animals. We don’t deserve human
rights protection. We’re witches, and these
people want us to fall. They want us to go mad. And then they try to do this
to us through fake news. OK, so I want to
tell you what led me to decide to leave Brazil. And I’m going to try and tell
it in a very objective way. I was always a
victim of attacks, but I thought these attacks
were just part of the gig. But January 24 of 2013,
I went to a radio program in Porto Alegre and [INAUDIBLE]
do Sul to talk about a book that I was launching that
that’s called Uncommon Feminism. And why am I telling you this? Because this book was
part of my the story of my persecutions in 2018. So you know, I always went
to this radio station. I interviewed. I was interviewed
about my books. And so I went there. I sat down. It was the day in which Lula was
judged, and he was condemned. And before beginning
the program, we were talking about the
political situation and those who were criticizing
Lula and confusing people and spreading rumors about him
and, you know, people that– to people that don’t
know any better, that don’t have that context
to know that it’s fake news. So a door opened. Somebody came behind and
give me a kiss on the cheek. I looked at him. I didn’t know, and
I thought, maybe it was an old student of mine
because I get a lot students. I give a lot of classes
in Porto Alegre. And then I see another one
come in who’s got his phone. He’s recording. And lots of people
today use their phone as a weapon today,
recording things. And I was attacked a lot of
times with phones recording. Anyway, on this day, when
I saw the cell phone, I’m kind of looking around. I don’t really understand
what’s happening. He sits down in
front of me, and I realized that he was a member
of a fascist movement in Brazil that was sponsored. It wasn’t just a
bunch of young boys. It was an organized movement. They’re paid to be activists. And so, you know,
I realized this. I got scared and, you
know, hopefully, I think they were waiting for
me to say something that was weird and unacceptable. And anyway, so they
recorded this moment in which I got scared. And you know, I thought– you know, I said,
well, what kind of– what is this? I’m here to be interviewed. I don’t want to be approached
by these kinds of people. So I left. I was pretty shaken up. And so I left. And that night, this
video was already going viral on social media. And it was trending on Twitter. And the next day, you know,
the viral nature of this video is continuing. And my attitude
has always been– and I know it’s a mistake now,
but my attitude was always, whenever I faced persecution
from those kinds of people who are trying to break me down
and trying to spread stupidity and ignorance in Brazil– you know, fake philosophers,
things like that– I would always say, I’m not even
going to even say their names. You know, I’ll cite Kant,
Schopenhauer, others. I’m not even going to recognize. I’m not going to give them
any importance because that would kind of elevate
their visibility in the public sphere. And so I’ve never paid
any attention to them. But on that day, I
left, and I realized that it didn’t matter–
that even though I never engaged with them, they would
use me just like they did, you know? They would persecute me. And there was a big opposition. You know, people defended
me on social media. And they realized that that
kind of backfired on them. And they decided to take
things to the next level. So they got an interview
that I had given in 2015, and they kind of cut a clip
out of it in which I said, I’m going to raise an
absurd question so that you can understand how we
can produce an argument and prove something
that’s absurd. And so for example, I can prove
that I’m in favor of robbery. So then I went through this. It was totally satirical,
but they cut it down so that it seemed like
I was in favor of robbery. And you know, reporters
came and asked me, are you in favor of robbery? I said, of course not. You know, it was
taken out of context. But things like
this and people that never met me, people that
never read a book of mine, they began to
threaten me with death because they thought
that I was in favor of assault, of robbery. And they said that
they would kill me. They hoped that I was robbed. Well, I mean, everyone in Brazil
has already been robbed once. But you know, they
cursed me out. They used foul names. And during 2013,
these groups, they put my picture on their
site of this group, of this fascist group. And I was with a new
party, the [NON-ENGLISH].. All of my book launches
began to be invaded. They would come to
these book launches and just kind of wreak havoc. And so anywhere I went, any
public appearance I went– you know, book fairs,
appearances, talks, book launches– I kept meeting these people. You know, I’ve been doing these
things for 15 years in Brazil. But these groups, they
started to kind of infiltrate these events from the northeast
all the way down to the south. OK, fine, you know? I was trying to deal with it. But then– so then they
started trying to say, OK, we’ll only let
into these events people who buy the book as
a way to try and filter out these people. But they would still come in. They would hit people. They would kind of cause chaos. Sometimes, they would
wait for an hour in line. You know, sometimes there’s
a line of like 300 people. They would wait for an hour
to come in, quiet, composed. But then when there was
enough of them in there, they would all put masks
on, try and scare me. And I would try
and joke with them. Oh, I’m going to call your mom. You guys need to be more polite. But then when they
started to hit people– you know, there were events in
which we were really scared. We were really shaken
because people got hurt. And there was a day when there
was a young boy who came in. We don’t know what
party he was from. But we were in
[NON-ENGLISH] in book lunch. And he came in, and he had
a gun in a plastic bag. And in an event, there
was 800 people there. And so we were really shaken. We called the police. I only found out this
actually after the event because nobody told me so that
I wouldn’t be kind of shaken up about it. But police came. They took him away. And then after, various
book launches were canceled, some by me, some
by the bookstores that I had lined up with. And it was a terrible situation. And in Maringa, they created
this page that’s Not Her, which is an allusion to
the Not Him resistance against Bolsonaro. And they promised
that they would– they threatened to come
armed and to take out these labor party supporters. This day was super
uncomfortable for me because the city
decided– you know, people decided go to the event. I went to the event. And I was really unsure
whether I should go or not. I wanted to, you know,
donate some of my archive to the libraries. And it was a political act. The election was already over. And in this city,
Sergio Moro was born. People, they were Sonia Braga
supporters and Sergio Moro supporters. And you know, they would kind
of fight and argue about this. So it wasn’t a political
act, but it was horrible because I would sign books,
but I was really scared. And there was a policeman
with a rifle next to me. And all the people in
line, they had their bags searched because they were
afraid people would come in with a gun. And so it was on that
day that I realized it was no longer possible for me– it wasn’t just a question
of my personal security. It was a question of the
security of the people who read my books, who like
my books, who support me, who go to my events. And so I accepted the invitation
from an American institution that’s to be a writer
in residence there. And so I was moved
to Pittsburgh, and I’ve been there
since December. And now I don’t have an address. My husband was– I’m married to a judge
who’s been persecuted in Brazil for having
opposed the coup and for condemning the
state of exception. When I realized he was doing
a post-doctorate in Paris, you know, I went and
visited him for three weeks. And when I went there,
he started being more persecuted and attacked. And now we’re attacked in
many ways– by the press, by the extreme right. And I don’t know where
I’m going to stay because I don’t have a salary. I don’t have a grant. I just live off my royalties in
Brazil, which are very small, as you can imagine. So I’m going to live wherever I
can get a fellowship or grant. In the US, I was unable to
do it with some institutions because I have European
citizenship, which, you know, a lot of bureaucracy
prevented me from getting some opportunities. But anyway, I’ll live in
Japan or India or maybe Chile, Alaska, wherever I’m able to pay
the bills and live a safe life and not be persecuted by
people who want to attack me or even kill me. And people say, you
know, it’s just a threat. But a threat, you know,
doesn’t mean anything. Marielle was never threatened,
but she was killed. And so you know, threats
may not be the real thing, but we are in danger
of dying at any moment. And you know, people, they buy
into this discourse of hate, and you never know what
they’re going to do. And so I’m uncomfortable
telling this story. I would much prefer to
talk, as I did yesterday in Leila Lehnen’s
class, about literature, talk about other topics. I prefer literature to politics. I always have. But we’re in the world
together, and we all need to work together
to protect each other and to defend democracy and
create a world in which we have basic rights guaranteed. And I’m very thankful for
you guys for being here and for listening to this
collective expression, you know, of kind of raising issues
and trying to defend the truth. And it’s really important we
do this in this day and age so that we can improve
things in Brazil and live there once
again as normal people. And I hope that
doesn’t take too long. Thank you. [NON-ENGLISH SPEECH] [INAUDIBLE] question [INAUDIBLE] I really– oh, my
name is Pedro Paolo. I’m going to talk about
the economy and the attack on the economy of Brazil. I really appreciated your talks. Now I wanted to ask you– I know you guys are
far away from Brazil, but how do you feel
about the first 100 days of Bolsonaro’s government? Because my impression is that– and it’s the
impression of somebody who was very involved in that
crazy life– is that lots of things are changing. In other words, a lot of the
political capital of Bolsonaro that was built– you know, he talked about
attacking corruption and getting rid of
corruption and kind of cleaning up the
Brazilian state and eliminating corrupt
people and incompetent people in the government and those
who defended responsibly human rights that didn’t
deserve to be defended. I think all of this is
kind of falling apart. And so I’m wondering if– I don’t know if
this is related to– if this is because I’m being
super optimistic, overly optimistic, or if
you from abroad are noticing this as
well this movement, if you’re seeing this weakening
of Bolsonaro’s kind of cache. Hi. I’m Luisa Machado. I’m in the University
of Albany in New York. I’m doing a– I’m
finishing up my doctorate. And when my grant is up, the
program through which I came will not exist anymore. Anyway, I wanted to thank
you for these talks. It’s hard for me to
kind of express myself. I’m emotional and reacting
to your emotions as well. But I’m grateful to– I’ve had the opportunity to be
with Marcia and Debora before and to participate a little
bit in this resistance and, you know, act
as a doctoral student and try and support Brazil from
abroad because there are times in which it feels like we’re
not doing anything to help and that we’re giving one
step forward, two steps back. Anyway, in the commemoration
of Marielle’s death, you know, in March, we
talked about the need for there to be
international denunciation and national accusation
of what’s going on. And so I thought, OK, fine. Let’s try and do this. Let’s try and raise the
visibility of what’s going on in Brazil and
then try and expand our circles and things. But I still think that we’re
only talking to ourselves. There is a barrier
that we haven’t been able to break through. How do we tell people,
tell other Brazilians who are kind of in between? They’re not the extreme right. They’re not a
Bolsonaro supporter, but they’re kind of in between. They’re not sure. How do we tell them this
is the state of exception, it looks like a
democracy but it’s not, and these people are
political exiles? This is not, oh, I wanted to
go abroad and travel and go to Europe. That’s not the case,
was not their choice. And so I’m wondering. I see some people
in groups, they don’t realize what’s going on. And so I feel like I’m talking
to people that are already aware of the situation. And so I’m wondering
how to reach out to the other groups, those who– how can I tell them
that we are in the US, and they’re we’re saying,
we need to tell the world, we need to yell out to the
world that this is not normal, this should not be
happening, and that we need to change things? I don’t even know how we’re
going to change this yet, but I want to tell
people what’s going on. And I’m wondering,
you know, if you have any thoughts about that topic. [NON-ENGLISH SPEECH] First, I wanted to thank
you three, Debora, Marcia, for making yourselves available
and to tell your stories. Oh, I’m sorry. I didn’t introduce myself. I’m [INAUDIBLE]. I’ll introduce myself tomorrow. I’m [INAUDIBLE]. I’m from the federal government. But I’m here because
I’m Jim’s friend. And that’s the only reason. So fundamentally, I wanted
to ask you about this because every time
we tell our stories, it’s part of the process
of being re-victimized, of kind of opening
up that trauma again. And so we need a hug. We need an embrace. We need support, and I wanted
to support you in that way. I wanted to take this
opportunity– yesterday, I was having dinner
with some people, talking about human rights
in the United States. And the topic came up
that Jean mentioned this false dichotomy
between social and economic and identity groups. And you know, people talk
about these questions, and they say, you know, it’s
part of the democratic process, and, you know, how do these
groups contribute or not to these movements? So I wanted to talk about the– take advantage of this
really great opportunity to have you four
sitting down together. I wanted you to talk
a little bit about– just a few words about
the false dichotomy of these groups, the identity
and the socioeconomic groups. [NON-ENGLISH SPEECH] I’m going to try to answer all
questions in one because they all connect. Before that, I just want to
say that the threats against me have been documented and
registered in numerous reports with the federal police
that opened investigations that went nowhere. And in front of this
inefficiency of the state, I did appeal to the
Inter-American Commission for Human Rights where
everything was documented, and the members asked
for a cautionary measure to protect me from
the Brazilian state. So I have– it’s not
a personal choice to leave the security
of my country, which was not secure anymore, in order
to live in insecurity abroad. Today, a reporter asked me
a question that shook me. How is it you wake
up and be conscious that you’re not in your country
and not able to go back? People have no
idea what that is. In order to say to us that
we’re just being tourists, I just want people
to step into my shoes and realize how awful this is. As I said, since
I stepped down, I haven’t been able to go
back and take care of myself because I need to be in this
front of how this democracy downfall threatens minorities. I’ve noticed that
there is a change, yes. There isn’t a doubt, I
think, in a lot of fields that Brazil is no
longer a democracy. There is no doubt that Brazil
does not live a democracy. I talk with the
European Parliament in Geneva, on UN’s
headquarters, different places. There is a sense. There is a changing, a shift,
that Brazil’s democracy is no longer full, that
we have a government that is at least a populist,
alt-right populist, if not fascist. So this idea is already becoming
a majority in the world. But there isn’t also
a doubt that there is a right populism in Hungary,
in Brazil, and here with Trump. So what’s in common with
all those governments is that each of them
exercises a kind of fascism in their own way. So some are more
open, like Brazil, and some just turn their back
on policies and fascist policies like in the US. So after 100 days of government
where government has not proposed any public
policy with the except of the social
security reform, which is an attack against
labor, is a tactic against all the
progressive change in labor since the 20th century,
and the other one which is the anti-crime
package, which is only further authorization
of police to execute people beyond the judiciary system. I don’t even need to
bring statistics here, but whoever wants
them, I have it. It is the young
black people who live in peripheries who are being
murdered by the police. So an example of
this is [INAUDIBLE] letter to [INAUDIBLE] Sao
Paulo newspaper, which I reply to in my blog today. So even though perspectives
are clear on this, these governments are ruling
for the economic minorities against the social minorities
in Brazil, social majority. So it’s a combination of
conservative discourse in the private sphere with
a radical neoliberal agenda with economically-wise. So that had happened
before in history, and it’s always a danger
with these comparisons. But that had happened
before with fascism and Nazism of the ’30s. So now we have a
new challenge, and I speak about this in my book–
that is, my upcoming book. I take the “Matrix”
allegory in order to talk about this dystopic
imagination of the future that actually is a description of
the presence in the second half of the 20th century. So we are fighting
now against bots, against robots,
against algorithms, rhythms that keep
us from bursting into different bubbles. So we are trying to tell
people they are encapsulated in bubbles that are
produced by algorithms and who are attacked by
robots, those virtual militias, but that are real but have
like one person in charge of 300 different profiles. We have reached this point. And the democratic
world’s challenge is how to deal with us. So Zuckerberg has decided
to banish from Facebook [INAUDIBLE] pages from UK
because Brexit had already been influenced by
fake news on Facebook. The American elections,
the Brazilian elections, have all been
impacted by fake news. So the robots operated,
the algorithm operated, constructing,
building bubbles that keep dialogue from happening. I think that way to
burst through that is multiplying
personal space where we can talk about with
the [INAUDIBLE] people. I think that people
are against– I think that if people are
against actually facing what is happening, they become– it’s a problem of character. And with people who have
bad characters and who are fascists, dialogue
is impossible. [NON-ENGLISH SPEECH] Just to kind of piggyback on
what Jean was talking about, which– and I subscribe to
everything you said. But this week on
Monday, last Monday, I published on my [NON-ENGLISH]
an article that has a title that’s “We That See Democracy
Die, We Wait For Thee.” And it was an allusion
to French history. And Brazil was a is a lab. It’s a big great Guinea pig. It’s a country that’s very
desirable, very interesting. Destroying Brazil is good
for the extreme right. You know, we know the coup was
a coup of governments serve the neoliberal, you know, wave. And we are in a second
wave of neoliberalism. Excuse me. We’re trying to kind of navigate
our way through this and Chile and Brazil and these
other economies that are destroyed economies– Turkey, Hungary. We might be able to think that
these authoritarian states are actually states that
serve an economic power. And we know that Brazil
will not be abandoned. And so I also believe
that we need to– because the coup is
happening in the whole world and it’s international,
we need to create a democratic international. And we don’t– we could
talk about a communist or a socialist
international movement, but we need an international
democratic movement. And we need to– because this is an
international phenomenon, we need to act internationally
to kind of undermine it and break down
these this movement. We need to raise our voices
Brazilians in our fields. You know, all these voices are
fundamental, they’re essential, but also the voices
of Americans, French, Turkish people,
whoever is being attacked and massacred,
and also those who are being threatened because
neoliberalism is not– it makes strategic decisions,
but it’s also there to– it doesn’t really
distinguish between people. It’s in power. It’s the ruling ideology,
and it doesn’t really distinguish between people. And you know, so we got people
looking for Venezuelan oil. There’s Brazilian oil that
was discovered in 2006. It’s a super interesting topic. So everyone’s seeing
what’s happening, but what strength do
we have, what power do we have in the face of this
kind of delirious production, this obsession with money
and with capitalism? So how do we combat this? You know, Jean talked about
breaking into other spheres and raising our voice
in other environments. But you know, we’re
here right now. We’re in a very
important university. We’re in a certain
position of privilege, you know, the fact
that we’re here. But we know very well where
this is going to end up. So we know that there will
be more slaughter, more bloodbaths. There’s going to be a
lot more dead people, and Brazil will be destroyed. There will not be limitation. You shouldn’t have hope. Hope has been bad
for our struggle. I’m telling this to kind of in
between us because of course, we’re going to we’re going
to act with a lot of hope. But don’t have
theoretical hope because these theoretical hopes– you know, we talk about, oh,
there’s not going to be a coup. Well, there was a coup. Bolsonaro is not
going to get elected. Well, those of us who could
see what was happening, we knew that Bolsonaro
was going to be elected. I myself ran for office to try
and keep this from happening, but it didn’t matter. It didn’t do any good. You know, people
are being devoured. They’re being crushed
by a process which, in Brazil is part of
the story of big news outlets and social media. People were kind of crushed
and transformed into robots. And this process is
going to keep going. We know that we will be– that in the end,
we’re going to have– a big portion of our
population will be massacred, and this massacre
is already started. When somebody is shot 80 times
being a normal person– well, a black person, of course,
is chosen by the army, and, you know, all the
ramifications this had for Marielle and others
and Lula being in prison, we know that this will not stop. This is a huge test that
the rest of the world will be submitted to. It’s stimulated by those
who are kind of really ingrained in capitalism. So we know that we need
to continue to salute this anti-racist, anti-feminist– excuse me, anti-racist–
this anti-racist fight. And we need to focus on basic
human rights for everyone. This is an ancient fight. It’s been happening
for a long time. It’s a fight for people’s lives. And we’re not threatened
without any consequences. These are real threats. [NON-ENGLISH SPEECH] I need to start by confess
that unlike Jean and Marcia, I couldn’t imagine that he would
win, that Bolsonaro would win. So maybe my capacity
for political analysis was a little bit more limited. But I would dare to say
I’m permanently hopeful. It’s not about being naive. I’m not naive. But the day that
I give up hope is the day that I can’t
do what I do anymore, which is write and exist. And I want hope to be a
category, our category. It’s not going to be taken
from us like the identity agenda, which is your question. That seems like such a
fundamental question. Last week at an event
in Harvard, it was– somebody made it
exactly like that. Wasn’t us from
the LGBT movement, the feminist movement, the
black movement, that created the fragmentation? It’s important to see how this
question is targeted to us, right, as if it was our fault
in creating fragmentation. But that question is false. That’s a false idea because
those things are not incompatible. It is because
there is homophobia that people are able to
ask about gay movements being a fragmentary endeavor. So nobody can say they
don’t like poor people, but they can say– because this idea that class
is the great question, right? So it’s a false question
because it does not allow us to think about
the depth of discrimination because there are lower class
people who are gay, lower class people who are women. So it’s not a
question because those are issues that
affect everyday life, but it’s a question that
plays on the homophobia, the machismo, of people who
make it and who agree with it. So I’d say that during
the first 100 days, we have lived two effects. One is the sentimentality
of the people. So it’s the feeling of
resentment that cannot move forward. Our challenge is getting
from resentments the ability of positively to move forward. And then you asked me how to
do that outside the bubble. Maybe this is
where lies my hope. We have a strength which
is the us against you narrative they do not have. They are not here at Brown in
this moment talking with those who think and who are going
to bring back the truth. It’s up to us to let
people know that we are living in this moment
of pre-truth, you know? Who spoke it? Where did they speak it? When did they speak it? These bubbles are collapsing. And when they
collapse, that’s when we are going to colonize
the return to truth. They don’t have the
intellectuals at Brown. We do. [NON-ENGLISH SPEECH] Three more questions
and three quick answers. [NON-ENGLISH SPEECH] Good afternoon. My name is Jose Antonio. I’m from Portugal. I’m a professor, and
I’m also a lawyer. My question is, we
have to be more lucid. We have to kind of
show how lucid we are, how clearly we think, and
we need to be contagious. But we also need to be– in the first place, we need
an international democratic movement. The international
right is something that people can feel in Brazil. A lot more, they feel
the lack of the state more than they feel
the lack of democracy. And so Jean Wyllys
said, you know, I was democratically elected. The last election was not
a democratic election. But people feel that
there’s, oh, you know, that somebody goes– you know, somebody’s
in their car, and they get shot 80 times. So people are worried
about the insecurity, and they’re worried
about preserving these human rights
and these natural or these fundamental rights. And so this seems to
me like a big problem. It’s to create a
consciousness that there is an extreme right
that’s been created and is gaining force
in the United Nations and internationally. [NON-ENGLISH SPEECH] [NON-ENGLISH SPEECH] Hi, my name is [INAUDIBLE]. I’m from a fishing
community in Bahia. This is the first time
that I have contact with the three of
you together, and I’d like to congratulate all
of you on your talks. But I feel the absence
of some elements. I think it’s important to
say that Marielle was not assassinated just
because there wasn’t an [INAUDIBLE] of threat. We know that in Brazil that
the cheapest meat in the market is the black meat. So Marielle being a woman, a
black woman, from the favela, from [INAUDIBLE],, all
determines her killing. So that’s a determinate
element that for us, it doesn’t need threats. We don’t need to be
threatened on paper because we’re daily
killed, daily killed. So when I received the
invitation to be here, an indigenous leadership
advised me not to come because
when I come back, what could happen to
me in the airports after I speak when I
have to speak here? So I also think a
more complete analysis that goes beyond the
three months that anteceded the election is– we’re missing that analysis. Because in Brazil, we already
live the fragile democracy. Being from traditional
communities, we were already suffering
coups before the political coup because our rights have been
systematically violated. So I think that
the president left, which is in Brazilian
intellectuality, the intellectual world, even
though they’re not for choice, as Jean said, you
have the option to be in spaces like this. Some of us, a lot of us, most
of us, are daily threatened and we have no place to go. And we don’t want to leave. So we don’t want to– so you as black and
white women as– sorry, as white men and women
who are privileged how do you take this voice
that can make a denunciation be amplified also include
in your denunciation the questions of traditional
and indigenous peoples and the black youth
that is being killed? [INAUDIBLE] talking [INAUDIBLE]. Hello. [NON-ENGLISH SPEECH] I’m Anna [? Julia. ?]
I’m a master’s student in the [INAUDIBLE] University. I’m studying philosophy
just like Marcia. And I’d like to– before asking my
question, I’d like to say that you are
very important to us. Even though you’re out
of the country, when I learned that Jena
wasn’t coming back, that he wouldn’t be
a congressman, we– you, know there was
a big reaction to it, and we miss you a lot. I went to [INAUDIBLE],,
kind of the foreign service and I was talking about I didn’t
really know who Bolsonaro was, but I knew who you were. Marcia, we were in the
[INAUDIBLE] in 2017. We were there together. And when we learned that you
weren’t going to come back, you know, what will happen
to the philosophy department, especially a department
like ours that doesn’t accept
black people, that doesn’t accept LGBT people? And the university
doesn’t say anything. And we have a
resistance movement. We don’t have a lot of students
there, but there is a movement. And I was reading
[INAUDIBLE],, and I was talking about the role of art. Because you’re not just a
congressman or a professor. I don’t know Debora so much, but
I really appreciated your talk. You are artists. You deal with our emotions. And so how are you
going to use that power? I’m going to go back. My friends are there. They’re waiting for you. So I don’t have
social media, but I go to Jean’s Instagram account
every day because I need that. I need– I need to
know where he is. So I just wanted to
kind of communicate the love that we have for you. And even though I’ve
never seen you so close, I had to come here
to visit my uncle to end up seeing you so close. And I drove here
two hours to get here so that I could see you. And are important,
and you will continue to be important whether
you are threatened or not. We are just a little
movement, a little group, but we follow you. Thank you. [NON-ENGLISH SPEECH] So since this is
the last round, I’m going to start and then Marcia. And then we’ll
leave the man last. It’s a didactic exercise. I wanted to say that
what you just said is very emotional to me. This is a moment
where all of us need expressions of affection
and personal encounters. I know that our questions
about, like, who are you, what you represent, those are
questions that move all of us all the time. But all of us who are here,
we represent not that we are together but that a very– a parcel of privilege. We knew that when we were
walking in through this door. But the expression of affection
allows us a political action. But I wanted to
answer this question about who are you, who do
you represent when you talk. I think this is a
question that legitimates voices that for long
have not been recognized. But it also delegitimizes
some talks [INAUDIBLE] talk and our
responsibility and our duty to speak as political
representatives. We represent spaces of
power, of the Brazilian elite that we all of here are. But we have a responsibility
of not silencing ourselves. Silence is an
accomplice of privilege. So I wanted to ask
that we can change the way we ask questions about
representation legitimacy. Beyond that that we are– I am this woman
that you’re seeing– I also want to be passed through
the responsibility of what I say and what I do not say. I think that that’s the
political convocation that we need to do. What is your name again? Anna Julia. It’s nice to meet you. Those [INAUDIBLE]
were good, huh? We just talked about
things that didn’t really matter to anyone, huh? I’m a very hard person. I’m from [INAUDIBLE] do Sol. I’m from the south. You know, it’s really
cold in my city. We don’t have heat
in the buildings. I know how to live in
cold and in hunger. I know how to live and
survive any type of violence. I’m a [NON-ENGLISH]. I’m strong. But this experience of exile,
you know, this banishment that Debora talked
about so eloquently, this has been a good
spiritual experience for me. So I interpret it as being a
great spiritual moment, as was my candidacy to government. You know, the way I see the
world has to do with this. So how do I live and go through
these situations in terms of my interior emotions? So I am not only a strong
person, I am a perverted or I’m a perverse person
because I work with literature. And I always talk about
transforming myself, transforming people,
getting revenge on. People and so what
you’re talking about, the importance
of us, it really moves me in this loving
and emotional way. And it is very
different from what we’ve been receiving
in the context of spiritual impoverishment. And you know, it has to do
with our story, with the story that we always have
to try and recover. And it has to go
with your question, you know, the question
that you raised. What is your name again? [INAUDIBLE] So it’s so important what
you raise because this is a fundamental question. When you look at me,
you call me white. I am sad because
I’m I don’t think it’s good that I kind
of exude and I look like the privileged person. But I know it’s true. And I think all of us
here, we’re symbols, you know, or we represent
the fight for democracy, for human rights, a
[INAUDIBLE] democratic state with all of its problems
and limitations. But that’s a
fundamental question. It’s something that
still exists in the US, and France, and
Portugal, does not exist in Italy and all
these countries that were taken over by coups. And so I’m talking
about this because I think are– in my
perspective, for example, I’m not a white feminist
because I don’t believe there exists white feminists. And so if there’s
a person like me that comes from the low class
of society, of the whites who are the descendants
of the Italians and the Germans who live
in the south of Brazil, different from you who have– you know, you belong
to a territory. We are those who
were kind of just inserted there, those
who were left over, those who are kind of– who can’t go back to Europe. We’re kind of the dregs
of European society. And you know, you called
it white privilege, and that’s the only
privilege that we have, we who are from the
poor, European ancestry. You know, I work with kind of
family history and tradition and I write about this. And you know, there are people
that didn’t get any rights, any privileges. And you know, the only
thing that we have is to be a miserable white person. And you know, the
only power that I have is to violent against
people who aren’t white. And so I think it’s really
important recognize this and try and move through this. I don’t support– I don’t do white feminism. And I don’t think it’s
even appropriate to call it white feminism. What do we do? After black feminism that
taught us the intersectionality, we fight against
capitalism, against racism. We fight against prejudice in
terms of gender, of sexuality, of age. And we also fight against
the prejudice and bias in terms of art and aesthetics. And so we are subjects
who, although we are white, we’re not racist. And I think this is a very
important distinction to make. We talk about the place
from which you speak. I usually refer to it as the
pain from which you speak. And so the place
from which you speak is where you
construct a dialogue, and interact with other people. And we can be kind of
figureheads for the fights that we are engaged in. And so I think that our feminism
needs to be very dialogic. It needs to present itself
as a great theory that is capable of changing
the structure of society as a whole. I trust feminism not
just as an act but also– as a constructive act
but also as a destructive in terms of deconstructing
the prejudice and the bias of the masculine
white patriarchy that exists. And so I’m saying
this because I just want to enter a dialogue with
you because everything you say, I want to follow that. And I think what you said
is the path that all of us, from all of our
different places, we need to we need to follow. It’s another paradigm that
needs to be constructed. But I agree with
Debora that we need to discuss what is the
place from which you speak, your position. And I have this desire to
construct and to defend the democratic state. And you know, we live in
a post-democratic society, and we need to overcome
that post-democracy that is being built by a group that
wants to destroy and commit genocide and slaughter. And as Jean and Debora, we– I had only had 20 minutes
today, but we also wanted to– I mean, our whole lives
are devoted to this. We write books. We write texts. We try and understand
these questions. And this comprehension certainly
helps us understand and think about the genocide,
the slaughter that happens, the
colonization of Brazil, I because I think
that Brazil is– among the Latin
American countries, it’s the country that
forgot it was Latin American and that it committed atrocities
against indigenous populations. And so I think we need
to recognize the genocide against black people. And what you said about Marielle
is perfectly right and true. My husband, as a judge, he
was threatened with death several years ago like this. A car pulled up in front of him. I’m telling this because he
also tells this story publicly. A car came up in front of him. A couple of guys came out,
the would-be murderers or the possible murderers. And they pointed guns at him. They laughed, and they left him. And he told this
when Marielle died because he said that because he
was white, he wasn’t murdered. Thank you. [NON-ENGLISH SPEECH] So many questions raised. First, I would like to
thank for your affection. As Marcia said, we’ve lived so
many painful moments, passed through so many violent, that
getting somebody’s affection feels very good. I’ve said in many
interviews that I’ve tried to distance myself from
Brazilians in certain spaces, and I’m searching
for that because I’m broken inside
because of violence that was practiced against me. So when somebody
comes close to me, I already think they
want to offend me, they want to insult
me, they want to attack me because that’s
what I’m subject to in Brazil. So whenever I see that kind
of effective demonstration, it touches me. So thank you so much. You’ve brought so many
questions, so many. First, I’d like to thank you
so much for the collaboration and for the chance you’re giving
me and reflecting a little bit more because this event has
given us time, time to speak. All of us had time to speak. And the panel was put
together on a common thread, which is the
banishment, the exile, with three people that have
distinctive stories but that have much in common . And you’ve been
invited to this event just like Douglas Belchoir,
who’s speaking at this event. And it seems like
in a general way, the event has been a
concern about being polyphonic and bringing
in a lot of voices in Now today, the objective was to
discuss this exile experience. And despite that,
in all our talks, the racial element came
in, to use that expression. It was in my talk all the time. So sometimes, arts
can speak more about things than
theory or politics. Caetano Veloso, biracial
like me, born in Bahia, made a song called
[NON-ENGLISH],, which is a rap, “Haiti,” which is a rap, which
is an expression of black culture, pop black culture,
which now is world. So Caetano places this
on the Jorge Amado house a white writer that has
a complex relationship with the African heritage. So when you see from the
Jorge Amado house, how black– this is the rough
idea of the song– how black people are treated. I don’t define myself as black. I am the son of an interracial
marriage between a white woman and a black man. I was born in [INAUDIBLE]
in the periphery in Bahia. I know that Brazil was not
democratic for a long time. We that live in the
periphery have always known that Brazil has
never been a democracy. It has always been on the
brink of becoming a democracy. And all of us who
live in peripheries, we know how state treats us. Inside this collective
of people who have been forgotten
by the world, we know that people
who have black skin are treated differently by
the police when they go there. But now it’s true that in
this and in that place, men have a privilege
over women, and a gay man is even underneath
a woman because the heterosexual mothers
kick out their children. I just want to
say this because I want to say that
I’ve always worked from an intersectional
perspective. I’ve seen racism against
my dad, who was black. I’ve seen the way that despite
my dad being a black man, he was still above my mom, who
was a woman, above my sisters. And I was beneath
everyone for being gay. So I did a mandate
wanting to work from this intersectional
perspective and how misery works differently
from all of those identities. Now black trans women
are much more vulnerable. We have always seen this. We’ve tried to articulate
in a broad manner how these things relate. I worked against poverty knowing
that poverty is particularly deadly to black women
and black trans women as the top of violence,
many violences. So I’m going to say this
because a lot of public talks seem to be superficial, but
it’s all thought through this. I’m privileged of being
talking at Brown today, yes. But water came to my
house when I was 12. I was selling cotton
candy in the street because my dad was an alcoholic. I starved. I study in very
precarious public schools. I’m a gay man in a
homophobic country. I’m saying all of this to say
that the apparent privilege is not as– that privileged. We fight to have our voice
I think it’s wonderful that you’re here, and what
a wonderful contribution you’re going to give. You’re in Brown just like
me, and that’s wonderful. And that’s a rupture of silence. And it’s a conquering
of the voice. And in talks [INAUDIBLE] saying
about the [? subaltern ?] speaking. So today, for instance,
before coming here, I went to give a letter
to a representative, a gay representative, from
the state, a congressman. I wanted him to sign
a letter to pressure the American government– the Brazilian government,
sorry– to urge the American
government to pressure the Brazilian
government in terms of the violence against the
Afro-Brazilian populations. So now is also a very
delicate movement for all of our lives in
the democratic field. Disagreeing a little
bit with Marcia, we all need to articulate
on a front against fascism, not talk about
socialism and communism. We need to think better about
who are our adversaries, where do we need to put our energy. This is a very crucial moment. It’s a very pedagogical moment. And it’s a moment of love. I’ve told my feminist
friends that use your energy to destroy leftists–
that use their energy to destroy leftist
men, I ask her please have a little bit more patience
because our objectives have been built out of
this trash, you know? Men have been educated
to be like that. Deconstructing ourselves
is a constant work. Even for me, a gay man, it
has been very, very hard. So instead of
attacking ourselves, let’s have a little bit
more patience, straight men both black and white, please. I tell my militant
gay friends, please, let’s have a little bit more
patience with heterosexual men who are homophobic
because they were made out of this homophobia. They’ve been educated. It’s an integral part of them. So this is a moment for a little
bit of more love and pedagogy. Just to finish with another
element of pop culture, in “Game of Thrones,”
the kingdoms have decided to stop their war to fight
against the White Walkers, which is a metaphor– no spoilers. I’m saying that the
White Walkers are a metaphor against the greater
evil, the fascist threat that transforms everyone into a
walking dead, into a zombie. It represents a threat to the
planet, to climate change, and to this nuclear threat. And it’s a challenge
for us today. And disagreeing a little bit on
Marcia talking about this, even capitalists who are not savage
capitalists, who are not ultra-liberal, they
can be respected. They can be part of this
front, this democratic front in defense of democracy
and against fascism. Fascism is dangerous
because it produces what it believes it to be, which
is an ethnic cleansing that produced the genocide,
the Holocaust, but also apartheid
Africa and Rwanda. There is in this massacre
elements of colonialism. Yes, fascism has
elements of colonialism. Fascism is really this idea of
sexual and racial purification, cleansing. Anyways, I thank you a lot
for your consideration, and I thank you take into
consideration my arguments in order to
understand that life’s way more complicated and
more complex than what we would like.

Maurice Vega

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