Sapientiam Autem Non Vincit Malitia - Eagle photo: Donald Mathis


Transparent Roofs

Olavo de Carvalho
Folha de São Paulo, April 28th, 2003


When some politician of the right or simply empty of ideological convictions is accused of taking money from the budget and his party tries to elude the investigations, the media all together denounce the dirty little game, and with pretenses of deep indignation, shout for “transparency”1. But, the President of the Republic was not accused of vulgar corruption. He was accused of receiving, when he was a candidate, financial help from the largest criminal organization on the continent, responsible for a massive supply of cocaine to the national market.

To discourage the investigations, he did not resort to any parliamentary trick, but to direct intimidation, announcing that he is going to sue the denouncer, deputy Alberto Fraga (PMDB-DF), for the crime of exercising a basic prerogative of his job. At the same time – according to what I read in Elio Gaspari’s column –, agents of the government are arranging to prevent Boris Casoy2 from again hurting the sensitive soul of the president. He was the only interviewer of the São Paulo TV who dared to ask da Silva something about the Farc during the electoral campaign.

Worse still, by mobilizing the General Law Office of the Union against Alberto Fraga to sue him, the President of the Republic makes use of a public organ as if it were the office of his private lawyers. The deputy’s offense – if there is any offense in requesting an investigation – was not made against the Presidency, but to Mr. da Silva and his party, who are the only ones involved in the case and on whom falls the obligation to give back, from their own pockets, the costs of each minute of work done by the lawyers of the Union in a case of private interest.

And nobody in the media seems to be scandalized with such matters, nor do they demand that the accusations be checked, nor criticize the President’s “privatization” of the General Law Office. The journalist class seems devoted to covering up both the denunciation and its repression; the former brought to the public only by me and by the press in Brasilia, the latter in half a dozen newspapers which put the news in highly discreet bottom of the page boxes without any mention whatsoever of the irregularities of the presidential procedure. Meanwhile, in Parliament and on TV, there echoes a nasty cacophony of incomparably less serious offenses associated with Antônio Carlos Magalhães.

Pejorative messages about deputy Fraga have already started to go around the internet, in a “character assassination” effort, coming from no one knows where, but targeted at destroying the public interest in the proof and documents that the deputy promises to present in the investigation, which counts with, we’re told, 127 supporting signatures according to the deputy, lacking only 45 to make it official.

I do not know Alberto Fraga and I know nothing of his virtues and sins, but what I do know is that in the times of Fernando Collor3, nobody alleged that his brother’s bad moral attributes were an excuse for not listening to his testimony. I do know that against the “budget dwarves”4 nobody felt ashamed of calling upon a notorious crook and murderer as witness. What does it matter then if the denouncer wears a white or black hat? All that I hope for is that the proof he claims to have about what seems to be the greatest electoral crime of all times be revealed. But it does not surprise me that the first ones to try to cover it up are precisely the apostles of “transparency”: glass roofs are, by definition, transparent.5

The President of the Republic was the founder, and for ten years, highest leader of the Foro de São Paulo, the coordination of the communist movement on this continent, in which legal parties of the left could articulate in common strategy with terrorist and criminal organizations like the Farc and the Chilean MIR – the latter the largest “shareholder” of the Brazilian kidnapping industry. That alone should be enough to make him suspect, and his actions in such shady groups should be carefully investigated.

In spite of that, in the 2002 elections, the expression “Foro de São Paulo” was totally suppressed from the media and from the debates. Never in 37 years in journalism have I seen such a generalized, cynical and stubborn effort at cover-up. But, how could it be different? Of Mr. da Silva’s competitors, two were his partners in the Foro de São Paulo and the third, who knew about it all, would never wish for anything in this world to disturb with unpleasant conversations an election that had been planned to be an intimate celebration of the leftist parties.

At the time, I wrote a lot against all this, but categorically rejected any hypothesis of financial interest in the connections between da Silva and the Colombian narcoguerrillas. Now, faced with the new denunciations, the silence of the media, of the politicians and of the business leadership ceases to be merely immoral, becoming in fact clearly criminal.

When all the educated elite of a country becomes so subservient to the false leftist morality, it is ready to confess that, at the end of the day, a presidential candidate who receives money from narcotrafficking has done nothing wrong at all, as long as it is “leftist” narcotraffic. And, thus, to compare Brazil and Colombia is excessively optimistic: in Colombia, the Farc are hated by 98% of the population. Here, there is no kindness that is enough to please them. The President of the Republic has refused to call them what they are; three commanders of the organization are sheltered on national territory while at the same time the Ministry of Defense alleges it has nothing against them; and the guerrilla instructors it sends to improve the violence in Rio are labeled by the media as “dissidents” – without the least proof that they are – so as not to stain the reputation of this distinctly homicidal organization.



  1. “Transparency” meaning disclosure. – Translator’s Note. Back
  2. Boris Casoy is one of the most experienced interviewers and anchormen on Brazilian TV and is reknowned for his sharp criticism. He was indeed the only one to question on air the then candidate da Silva about the Farc and their relations, to which a disconcerted but dry da Silva replied simply, “You’d better not ask these kind of questions again”. – Translator’s Note. Back
  3. Fernando Collor de Mello was the first elected Brazilian President after the end of the military period, his main adversary on the electoral dispute having been the current President, Mr. Luis Inácio “Lula” da Silva. He governed from 1990 until 1992, when the accusations made by his brother Pedro caused his impeachment and the deprivation of his political rights for 8 years. It must be noted that: a) he was responsible for the first openings of the Brazilian market to the outside world and for the beginning of the privatization (as far as this term is valid in the Brazilian context) of the state owned companies; b) most of the Brazilian people were happy about his fall because of, among other reasons, the confiscation he had made of millions of savings accounts on a failed heterodox attempt to solve the country’s economic problems; c) none of the accusations made against him were proved. – Editor’s Note. Back
  4. The “budget dwarves” is a famous corruption case in Brazil. – Editor’s Note. Back
  5. There is an old Brazilian saying that goes “One who has glass roofs should not throw stones on others“6, implying that you cannot accuse someone of something if you have equivalent flaws or, in this case, have committed similar crimes because a reaction equal to your action would break your roof as well as perhaps your target’s with worse consequences. It is also common to say about someone who should express the truth or take a stand and does not that the person “has a glass roof”, that is, the person might have done something wrong that might be brought up by the accused should they try anything. The author is making a pun here with the old expression. – Translator’s Note. Back
  6. The above expression is almost exactly the same as, and possibly derived from, the English expression “People in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones”. – Proofreader’s Note. Back

Translation: Fábio Lins - Proof Reading: Jacqueline Baca