Under the ultra-right President Jair Messias Bolsonaro, Brazil has little to laugh about: the controversial president repeatedly stands out with anti - women, anti-gay and racist statements, defends the Brazilian military dictatorship, threatens the rainforest with his policies and torpedoes the human rights of the indigenous population. In the past, Bolsonaro advocated, among other things, the use of torture methods and wanted to “cure"homosexual people with beatings. Now Bolsonaro is confronting the black movement in the country.
In fact, the state-funded Palmares foundation would have the task of dealing with the historical injustice of the Afro-Brazilian population and protecting their political rights. However, the Brazilian Ministry of Culture recently appointed Sérgio Camargo as head, according to the Portal for news and analysis from Latin America, “amerika21”. The appointment is problematic and leads the purpose of the foundation ad absurdum. Camargo relativizes racism and slavery. With his appointment, the transformation of the Brazilian state apparatus through political rights continues.
Fox guards chicken coop
Sérgio Camargo is himself afro-stocky and describes himself as a"right-wing black man”. He spoke on the Internet before he was called to racism in the country: for him, there is only one “Nutella racism"in Brazil. He also spoke about slavery, which was “terrible, but beneficial for the descendants.” According to his statements, the blacks of Brazil today live better than the black population of Africa.
“Real racism only exists in the USA. The local blacks complain only because they are stupid and not informed,” says Camargo. He also called for the end of the legal holiday in memory of the black population oppressed for centuries. The day is embarrassing, said the new head of the Foundation, who in his function will be jointly responsible for future commemorative events.
With his statements, Camargo fits well with the line of the Bolsonaro government, which defames the historical reappraisal and enlightenment as a “left-wing opinion dictatorship”. Camargo also wants to fight against a” victim mentality and the politically correct”. This means that a right-wing activist is now responsible for dealing with historical injustice and for protecting the rights of Brazil’s black population. And this is in a country where more than half of the approximately 210 million Brazilians are considered black or Afro-American and are often affected by poverty and lack of access to education and work. And in a country where slavery was legal until 1888.
As “amerika21” writes, activists of the black movement fear even more resistance from the state side after the appointment of Camargo. Professor Ana-Lucia Araujo called the appointment “an attempt to destroy everything Afro-Brazilians and their movement have built up since the end of the military dictatorship.”
Supreme Federal Court upheld the appointment
However, the appointment of Sérgio Camargo was not without noise. As a result of his historical revisionism, the appointment was preceded by months of litigation. In November 2019, a federal court ruled not to allow Camargo to run for office. The competent federal judge followed a request by black activists, according to which Camargo’s statements contradict the goals of the black movement.
As a result, the Supreme Federal Court overturned the verdict for formal reasons and released Camargo’s appointment as head of the Palmares Foundation. The judiciary had improperly interfered with the criteria for appointment, it said at the sentencing hearing on 12 February. However, the criteria are only a task of the executive.
Not the first controversial appointment
With the appointment of Camargo, the transformation of the Brazilian state apparatus through political rights continues. This after the Brazilian government had recently appointed Pastor Ricardo Lopes Dias as coordinator of the Department for uncontacted peoples of the Funai Indigenous authority. The appointment of Dias met with strong criticism not only in Brazil, but also internationally. This was because Dias himself had been a missionary in the past and had repeatedly participated in missionary attempts in the Amazon region. Between 1997 and 2007, Dias was a missionary for the” Mission new tribal groups of Brazil " (MNTB). The Mission, founded in the USA, is known to have forced contact with isolated groups. The MNTB, for example, has been associated with epidemics that wiped out the Zo’é people in 1982.
“Amerika21” refers to Antonio Eduardo Oliveira, director of the Indigenous Missionary Council of the Catholic Church (Cimi). He said that the Brazilian government’s previous approach to isolated indigenous peoples was about protection and not about rapprochement. The election of Lopes Dias as head of Department contradicts this philosophy. “The appointment of the pastor is in line with the government’s desire to abolish these fronts and return to a dynamic of the dictatorship of contact with the Peoples, which means a true genocide, because these peoples are very sensitive to any contact”.