President Jair Bolsonaro (no party) has joined a list of little prestige: the gallery of “predators of the free press” created by the NGO Reporters Without Borders with 37 heads of state.
The Brazilian leader is one of 17 new members of the compilation, which features for the first time two women, Sheikh Hasina, from Bangladesh, and Carrie Lam, from Hong Kong, and a leader of the European Union, the Hungarian Viktor Orbán. The previous edition of the list was released in 2016.
In Bolsonaro’s file, the organization describes what it called a “predatory method” – insults, humiliations and vulgar threats – the privileged targets – female journalists, political analysts and Rede Globo- and the characteristic of its official speech -the vulgarities. The president took office on January 1, 2019 and the organization claims he has been a “predator” since taking office.
The NGO also brings some excerpts from Bolsonaro’s speeches, such as when he told supporters outside the Palácio da Alvorada on January 6 that the press “is not even garbage, because garbage is recyclable”. On the same day he also said: “Boss, Brazil is broke and there is nothing I can do. I wanted to change the income tax table, there was this virus, fueled by this media that we have. This media without character ”.
Another highlight was when the President used profanity to rebut criticism of the federal government’s R $ 1.8 billion spending on food and drink in 2020. Stick that can of condensed milk in your ass, not you , you in the press, ”Bolsonaro said Jan. 27 in a video that circulated on social media.
Attacks on journalists and abrupt interruptions of interviews due to uncomfortable questions have continued since the start of the mandate. More recently, the president called a reporter from an SBT branch an idiot and told another, this time from a TV Globo branch, to shut up.
Along with Bolsonaro, there are 36 other leaders with different tactics, such as Daniel Ortega of Nicaragua. The NGO says that he, at the head of the country since 2007, became a predator in November 2016, since his election for a third consecutive term. The main method employed by the dictator is economic suffocation and judicial censorship, and the targets, the Chamorro family and the private media.
Two family members are even among the six opposition candidates detained in the country last month. The first was journalist Cristiana Chamorro on June 2, who is now under house arrest. His cousin, economist Juan Sebastián Chamorro, was also arrested.
The speech, on the other hand, is qualified as paranoid and exaggeration, emphasizing the speech of May 2020, aimed at the American and Costa Rican media: “Terrorism of disinformation, led by the United States and taken at face value by the media of many countries, especially Costa Rica, is brutal, criminal and xenophobic.
Another Latin American to appear in the predator gallery with characteristics similar to Ortega’s is the dictator Nicolás Maduro, of Venezuela. Its listed methods are deliberately orchestrated censorship and economic strangulation, which target private media and the El Nacional newspaper – which this year had the building confiscated by the regime and was ordered to pay out millions of dollars in compensation.
The description of his official speech doesn’t differ much either: paranoid slander. The most recent highlight is an excerpt from a speech from February 2019. “Much of the media war Venezuela is subjected to is designed to ensure that no one comes close to Venezuela, that no one comes to invest, although Venezuela is the best country in the world to invest in.
Also on the list of dictators are names like Aleksandr Lukachenko (Belarus) and Kim Jong-un (North Korea). Among the great world powers are Vladimir Poutine (Russia) and Xi Jinping (China).
The Russian has been considered a predator since taking office in 2000 – since then there have been four presidential terms, in addition to his tenure as prime minister under Dmitry Medvedev. Putin uses the method of authoritarian nationalism against his main target, the independent media, and the NGO points to at least eight Russian journalists currently detained and one who died in prison in 2020 for lack of medical care, Aleksandr Tolmashev.
The Russian president’s official speech is described as “blatant hypocrisy,” and Reporters Without Borders recalls a speech he gave at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum last June. “We have so many news channels, the Internet, we have so many different opinions and there are so many critical opinions in the media, on the authorities (and on me). I don’t think your countries have that, journalists who criticize the government so harshly.
The leader of the Asian country, in turn, adopts as a predatory method what the NGO has called “the vacuum of repression”. “State media should not just follow the Party’s example. [Comunista Chinês], but also “to reflect the will of the party, to safeguard its authority and its unity” “, specifies the organization. “Under Xi, the harassment of international correspondents and their sources has also reached new heights.”
The leader’s target is simple: those who leave the narrative. And his official speech is qualified as paternalistic indoctrination, expressed in a speech of February 2016, in reference to journalists from CCTV, the Xinhua agency and the People’s Daily, all state vehicles. “They must love the party, protect the party, and align closely with the party leadership in thought, policy and action.”