Home News A new player in Brazilian politics? Elon Musk and the Republicans.

A new player in Brazilian politics? Elon Musk and the Republicans.


Just a few months ago, the political movement behind Brazil’s far-right former president Jair Bolsonaro was at a standstill.Mr. Bolsonaro has vote outrule Not eligible to run at the next election, in the crosshairs of deepen criminal investigation.

But now, with the help of Elon Musk and the Republican Party, Bolsonaro and his followers have a sudden surge of energy and momentum.

Over the past month, Musk and House Republicans have harshly criticized Alexandre de MoraisBrazil’s Supreme Court judge is leading an investigation into Mr Bolsonaro over his actions Block over 100 social media accounts in Brazil. Many of them are among prominent right-wing pundits, podcasters and federal lawmakers who have in some cases questioned Bolsonaro’s electoral defeat.

Mr Moraes said he was taking action to protect Brazil’s democracy from attacks by the former president and his allies. Accused of plotting a coup 2022.

Musk has repeatedly called Moraes a “dictator” and posted about the judge dozens of times on his social network, X, accusing him of silencing conservative voices.

The House Judiciary Committee consists of Representative Jim JordanOhio Republicans released Mr. Moraes’ sealed court order last month a report Regarding “Censorship in Brazil.”On Tuesday, House Republicans held Hearings It described the situation in Brazil as a “crisis for democracy, freedoms and the rule of law.”

While the efforts of Musk and Republican politicians have received little attention in the United States, they have created a huge political wave in Brazil.

Before Musk began posting about Brazil on April 6, much of the news in the country centered around the criminal investigation into Bolsonaro.These include New York Times Just days after authorities confiscated Bolsonaro’s passport, he apparently applied for political asylum at the Hungarian embassy.

But over the past month, attention has shifted to a new question: whether Brazil’s Supreme Court suppression of free speech?The debate was widely covered by Brazilian media, including on cover Author of Veja, the country’s top weekly magazine. Folha de São Paulo, one of the major newspapers in Brazil Call on Mr Moraes to end censorship.

In a new round of debate, Brazil’s Congress effectively Repealed a long-awaited bill On combating online misinformation and the Supreme Court say it will rule Handling litigation challenging Brazil’s major Internet laws.

That a series of Mr Musk’s online posts had such a rapid impact on internal politics in a foreign country is a sign of his growing influence owner and maybe the loudest voice In one of the largest digital town squares in the world.

Bolsonaro is now taking advantage of renewed attention from powerful supporters abroad.former president held campaign style assembly Attacking what he called a political persecution, he thanked his foreign allies.

Bolsonaro told thousands of people at Rio de Janeiro’s Copacabana beach last month that Musk “truly defended the freedom of all of us.” “He’s a man who has the courage to show – there’s already some evidence, and there’s certainly going to be more – where our democracy is going and how many freedoms we’ve lost.”

Bolsonaro then called on everyone to applaud Musk, winning the loudest applause of the day.Some Bolsonaro supporters wore Elon Musk masks, while others wore face masks Holding signs praising the billionaire.

“With a few tweets, Elon Musk can change the political environment in Brazil,” said Ronaldo Lemos, a Brazilian lawyer who studies Brazilian internet law. Lemos added that the Brazilian right wing is struggling. “He brought the energy back.”

However, on Brazil’s left, Musk and Republicans are twisting the facts to attack Brazil’s institutions.

Left-wing President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva takes on Musk In a speech last monthCalling him “an American businessman who has never planted an inch of grass in this country, he dares to speak ill of the Brazilian courts, Brazilian ministers and Brazilian people.”

Brazil’s Supreme Court has taken a tough stance on some online content in recent years, including electoral misinformation and attacks on democratic institutions. According to documents released by the House of Representatives Judiciary Committee, a Brazilian court has ordered X to delete at least 140 accounts since 2022.

Moraes, who declined to comment for this article, said such measures were necessary in the face of the threat to Brazilian democracy posed by Bolsonaro and some of his supporters. Ransacked Brazil’s halls of power last year. “Freedom of speech is not an invasion of freedom,” Moraes said last month. “Freedom of speech is not freedom to defend tyranny.”

But his move also sparked heated debate whether they pose a threat to themselves Democracy in Brazil.

Mr Moraes has ordered X to suspend the accounts of some of Brazil’s most popular right-wing pundits and at least 10 federal lawmakers, although most have since returned to the platform.

In some cases, the reports cast doubt on the election results or encouraged protesters to call for a military coup. But Mr. Moraes typically seals such orders, so people whose accounts are suspended often get little information.

Social networks do often block content that violates their policies. For example, following the riots at the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021, Twitter 150,000 accounts deleted Linked to the conspiracy movement known as QAnon, which inspired many of the rioters.

But Mr. Moraes often orders the removal of content that social media companies retain under their rules.

In 2022, Moraes authorized Brazilian federal agents to raid the homes of eight major businessmen and ordered social networks to suspend some of their accounts. He took action in response to leaked screenshots showing two businessmen saying in a private WhatsApp group that they would prefer a military coup to Mr Lula’s victory in that year’s presidential race.

Moraes last year shelved investigations into most of them but continued to suspend the accounts of two of the businessmen, including department store magnate Luciano Hang. Mr Hang, one of Bolsonaro’s most prominent supporters, has been unable to access his social media accounts in Brazil, which have a combined following of more than 6 million followers, for nearly two years.

The stories have caught the attention of some Republicans in Congress. During Tuesday’s hearing, Rep. Chris Smith, R-N.J., said “Brazilian officials have committed massive and serious violations of the human rights of the Brazilian people.”

But Rep. Susan Wild, D-Pa., said Brazil’s courts have the power to prevent the kind of military dictatorship that ruled the country from 1964 to 1985. Any debate about the role of Brazil’s courts “should be decided by the Brazilian people.” People,” she said. “The United States Congress is not a forum. “

Few U.S. lawmakers attended the hearing, but some prominent figures from the Brazilian right did, including Bolsonaro’s son Eduardo. The proceedings were often interrupted by cheers or boos from right-wing Brazilians in attendance.

One witness, Brazilian lawyer and University of Oklahoma professor Fabio de Sa e Silva, said he believed Brazilian law supported Moraes’ right to freeze his accounts. He believes that any crisis in Brazilian democracy is not because of judges, but because of “thugs unwilling to follow the rules.”

But some analysts believe Moraes appears to have violated Brazilians’ rights. Brazilian Internet law expert Lemos said he no longer believes that Brazilian democracy faces such an extreme threat that Moraes’ aggressive approach is justified.

“We no longer live in a state of emergency,” he said.

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