Right-wing militias on the loose
On Wednesday, a police team picked up two men from a luxury condominium by a lake in Brasilia. They also seized posters with photos of heavily-armed men in full military gear, calling for a military coup in Brazil. The suspects had sent a mail, titled “Death sentence to the traitors of the motherland”, to the country’s top judges.
“We call on the people to kill politicians, judges, prosecutors, Mayors, their advisers, relatives, and demons of all sorts in defence of themselves,” the mail said. For a year, judges have been receiving death threats from anonymous groups. A Supreme Court judge, Celso de Mello, said on Thursday the people behind the threats were “fascists” and “Bolsonaristas” — the fanatic followers of President Jair Bolsonaro.
Under Mr. Bolsonaro, the system of checks and balances between the institutions has been creaking as the far-right leader often projects the Supreme Court and Congress as his enemies. But the most vicious attacks on these institutions come from the Bolsonarista groups, which are hyper-active on social media, with a massive troll army crammed with fake accounts and bots. Their weapon of choice is fake news.
“Extreme right-wing groups work tirelessly to delegitimise the democratic institutions in Brazil. These groups make and distribute fake news as a way to take advantage of people's fears and vulnerabilities. As people hope for a solution and as a fix to the fears, they promote the narrative of pro-military intervention,” said David Nemer, an assistant professor of Media Studies at the University of Virginia, who ...
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