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Brazilian Butchers Who Took over the World (thebureauinvestigates.com)
118 points by danso 50 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 42 comments

I wonder why this article doesn't mention PT (Worker's Party) once, even though it was during PT's government JBS had its meteoric rise. Here's a quote from Joesley's:

"Foi no governo do PT para frente. O Lula e o PT institucionalizaram a corrupção. Houve essa criação de núcleos, com divisão de tarefas entre os integrantes, em estados, ministérios, fundos de pensão, bancos, BNDES. O resultado é que hoje o Estado brasileiro está dominado por organizações criminosas. O modelo do PT foi reproduzido por outros partidos"


"Lula and PT institutionalized corruption. There was this creation of nuclei, with division of tasks among the members, in states, ministries, pension funds, banks, BNDES. The result is that today the Brazilian state is dominated by criminal organizations. The PT model was reproduced by other parties"

(source: https://oglobo.globo.com/brasil/lula-pt-institucionalizaram-...)

While PT certainly didn't create corruption in Brazil, it was brought to whole new levels during its government.

To anyone interested in why brazilians elected far-right candidate Jair Bolsonaro in 2018, it was mostly due to fear of PT returning to power. This was fear was greatly strengthened by the fact that PT has strong ties to Venezuela's current government (people were afraid that Brazil would become the next Venezuela). Also see: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Foro_de_S%C3%A3o_Paulo

While there were better alternatives, Jair Bolsonaro was the only candidate that stood a chance of winning, so most of his votes were anti-PT instead of pro-Bolsonaro.

The PT did not bring anything new to the Brazilian corruption. Dirty corruption schemes have existed in Brazil for centuries. The media threw the spotlight on corruption in the PT government because it was a convenient time for those who wanted a right-wing government. Great schemes were discovered that were previously covered up. Most of the blame was attributed to the PT, but these are criminal practices that have happened in all governments and, arguably in the name of governability (to be able to approve projects), Lula continued that.

Joesley would seem to be very interested in blaming the PT in his statements: in addition to getting out of jail, he would help pull a leftist party out of power. From January 2nd to August 2019, the value of JBS shares almost tripled, breaking consecutive records. Coincidence?

And in the last presidential elections, the favorite in the polls was Lula, unbeatably. He was soon convicted without substantial evidence, based only on testimony from people who had personal interests in the conviction. The lawsuit had a trial in record time. The judge who convicted Lula was named Jair Bolsonaro's Minister of Justice. Chats and voice messages began to leak shortly thereafter, initially through reporter Gleen Greenwald. Conversations between Judge Moro and the prosecutors, showing their partiality, collaboration and mutual interest in the conviction of Lula.

It seems very difficult to believe that it is PT's fault. And looking at the history of JBS stock value, it seems to me that JBS's meteoric growth is happening during the Bolsonaro government, and at the expense of the Amazon rainforest.

Yes, PT brought new aspects for Brazilian corruption: the size, the proportion. They fed private big companies with a lot of "opportunities" and dirty money (JBS is an example of a private corrupted company the grewn up with PT) . Also, they abused of state companies like Petrobras. Their corruption reached other countries in South America, Europe and Africa. PT gave steroids for Brazilian corruption.

This is the lie created to overthrow the PT that eventually elected Jair Bolsonaro. There is evidence on the internet (leaked audios from authorities) that there was a major national agreement to take down the PT. These companies are much older than the PT government. JBS was founded in 1953. The large building contractors were truly enriched during the military dictatorship (1964 - 1985). It does not take much in-depth research to realize this.

The whole JBS scandal helped the Batista family to get richer. They bought 100M dollars and sold JBS' stock just before the plea bargain deal went public. Joesley was temporarily imprisoned by this move, but soon was set free.

Probably the "greatest" achievement of the PT government is that many Brazilians now take the word of criminals in plea bargain deals as true narratives for their country. Very sad.

There are multiple evidences of how PT institutionalized corruption. Joesley's quote was only brought up due to the article's context.

To say that PT 'institutionalized' corruption is to deny the history of how Brazil (and pretty much every country) came to be ever since the first european set foot on its shores. Corruption is institutionalized, trying to account it as individual efforts is merely accepting a poor media-driven narrative.

In 13 years of PT government, Brazil became nowhere near "becoming the next Venezuela".

Most of the anti-PT sentiment was fueled by the media, which wanted a right-wing government back. It spectacularly backfired since Bolsonaro is anti-media.

> In 13 years of PT government, Brazil became nowhere near "becoming the next Venezuela".

Brazil has a a more diverse economy. Even though PT left Brazil in economic crisis, it surely wouldn't fall as much is Venezuela (which had an oil dependent economy when oil prices dropped dramatically).

I'm merely explaining the sentiment that took over the country and resulted in Bolsonaro being elected.

> Most of the anti-PT sentiment was fueled by the media, which wanted a right-wing government back

It seems to me that mainstream media was constantly attacking Bolsonaro during the election, so may I ask what is your evidence for claiming media wanted a far-right government?

Yes, and my point is that the "fear of becoming the next Venezuela" is purely paranoid and has no basis in reality.

> t seems to me that mainstream media was constantly attacking Bolsonaro during the election, so may I ask what is your evidence for claiming media wanted a far-right government?

It wanted a right-wing, not far-right.

You would just need to read what the media published at the time. There was non-stop attacks on the PT government and talking about the "crisis" which wasn't nowhere as bad as they painted. This distorted people's view of the economic situation, which fueled the anti-PT sentiment: https://www.redebrasilatual.com.br/economia/2015/06/pesquisa...

See also how the media kept talking about the crisis even when talking about stuff going well: https://www.pragmatismopolitico.com.br/2015/07/apesar-da-cri...

Also, you only need to study a bit of Brazil history to understand that Brazilian media has always been right-wing.

The fact that the media attacked Bolsonaro does not contradict this fact. When you have someone who does so many stupid things you can't help reporting them.

I remember watching in a documentary that many environmental activists in Brazil constantly fear for their lives, as meat companies place hitman on them.

The meat industry is a true mafia in Brazil, and in the US they also have huge power. If we have a look at Brasil exports, meat still plays an essential role, as scrolling down, all the squares the same color as poultry meat are also animal products - https://oec.world/en/profile/country/bra/#targetText=The%20t....

If you click on those, most of the meat is getting exported to China, Russia (pork meat), the middle east and Japan in general, it's like the EU and the US and Canada almost don't buy it from Brazil.

> Temer is thought to have only survived by upping budgets to individual lawmakers and making concessions to Brazil’s powerful agribusiness lobby.

It’s amazing how much power these agricultural companies have in government. It’s a big problem here in Canada with dairy production and the US with corn, both of which happen to be tied to key political battlegrounds.

You rarely hear about them like you do big banks and recently big tech, probably because they have bipartisan support in the high upper tiers.

It’s a very dangerous thing politically to stand up against, even if it’s heavily counter to representative interests outside of a few farming communities living off the fat of government protectionism. Which they claim they couldn’t exist without and we benefit because something something “local Canadian jobs” despite heavy automation, massive consolidation to a few mega companies, higher consumer prices, or worse far higher bad ingredients in food because it’s artificially cheap (see corn syrup in everything). I see plenty of regular people in comment sections and Twitter buying into this idea probably with some paid shills from their industry organizations.

Brazilian politics is complex and dirty. Those interested in understanding a bit more of it I recommend the TV series "The Mechanism". My personal opinion (as a brazilian myself) is that significant progress has been been achieved last 10 years, but we are still quite far from the level of corruption found in developed countries.

The series is full of inaccuracies and based on a judicial process that was more political than legal. Even the director of the series regrets it now after it served as propaganda to elect a president who has yet to do something good for the benefit of the Brazilian population.

Want to watch a good movie that probably portrays well the current president and his sons’s connections to the militia in Rio try “Elite Squad: The Enemy Within”.

Although the series might expose how corruption works in Brazil, keep in mind there's plenty of controversy and (valid, imo) accusations of partisanship in the way the show portrays certain politicians and situations, which even if based in real life, have switched characters and quotes, effectively targeting an specific political party.

Most of the same corruption is happening in developed countries as well. It was bizarre for me to see so many common practices in American politics (lobbyists and corporations writing entire bills, companies funding political campaigns, politicians awarding large public money contracts to their own companies, insider trading in Congress) happening openly and legally while they would have been massive scandals in my "corrupt" home country.

Brazilian politics are so backwards its very independence from Portugal was declared by the Portuguese king, who had fled Europe years before when his home country was invaded by Napoleon, and who was subsequently crowned Emperor of Brazil...


His father fled Napoleon, Pedro I was a child when his family fled to Brazil. He declared independence pressured by the nobles in Brazil who were opposed to restrictions coming from Portugal that limited their commerce to Portugal only and no other countries.

Contrast that with the French Revolution or the American Independence War, to name only a couple of geographically close examples

How is that corruption exactly? Didn’t they already openly run the Brazilian government and he was accepted in the role by the local power players?

That anecdote was relating 'backwardness', not corruption.

Tied for 105th place out of 176 countries in the Corruption Perception Index. And actually getting worse over the past 6 years.


(I never liked "Perceptions" in the title, it suggests that a country may have a better score if the population cares less about corruption than other countries).

And ranked 109th out of 190 countries in the World Bank's Doing Business Index[0], behind Lesotho[1], Kuwait, Vietnam and Bosnia and Herzegovina, to name a few surprises


0. https://www.doingbusiness.org/en/rankings

1. https://www.google.com/search?q=lesotho&tbm=isch

I want to know which countries are the most lopsided between the two indices.

Name has to be perception because after taking Fixed Income and Currency, the business has additional expenses. Large companies track this expenses and business practices, they then classify this as perceived corruption.

Because it affects only business, things like the corruption scandal accounted on the article are not accounted.

Rupert Murdoch runs the US, UK, and Aus.

we have as much corruption as you, its just our politicians have learnt how to hide it.

> we have as much corruption as you

That's bullshit. There is corruption in Western countries too, but not at the same level: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Corruption_Perceptions_Index

Key word is perception. A society can be very inaccurate in how it perceives its own country. Take the US, for example. In a recent survey, people were largely off regarding inequality. There are other instances of crooked relationship between entities that people (and laws, even) don't regard as corruption, such as lobbying, affecting perception outcome in surveys.

In many developing countries, you can buy a policeman with a $10 bill. Try that in the UK.

What does "buying a policeman with a $10 bill" says about a society's corruption levels? It reinforces the point that I was making regarding corruption perception. Maybe you are unaware that REAL and impactful corruption doesn't happen at street level.

Without defining what you mean by corruption and how to measure it, your comment is useless.

If you cannot somehow show that Brazil, Russia, the UK and Denmark have the same level of corruption, I call your argument bullshit.

Not in the past 10 years, the Workers Party literally setup corruption schemes like this you just linked.

A while ago I helped translate an investigative journal piece on the labor practices of this company's supply chain. It left me feeling ill for quite a while.

Worth a look: https://reporterbrasil.org.br/2016/09/electroshocks-punching...

Yeesh. The face-branding is awful. A lot of the sketchy herding practices (shocking, beating, yelling, etc.) seem inevitable with a big enough operation. The cattle don't know the people, and the people haven't been around cattle enough to know how to act.

Waiting for the Indian counterpart to this story. India exported as much (water buffalo) beef as Brazil in 2016, but cattle are considered sacred in places, buffalo can be legally slaughtered, and people get killed over allegations of eating beef.

Oh yeah. Easy to that with stolen money from the brasilian tax payer, and a litle help of the corrupt goverment that they laundred money in order to help win the election.

This company, and others, got a ton of public money, subsidies and tax breaks back in the Workers' Party days, when the country was swimming in oil money. Ostensibly it was an effort to create world players (or "national champions"). All it managed to create was the worst recession in Brazilian history.

The King Ranch in Texas used to be the biggest beef producer in the US. At peak, they owned most of four counties in Texas and had operations in Australia and (?) Argentina. They were the primary supplier to McDonalds.

But they cut back. More oil drilling, fewer cattle.

It says 51% of their revenues come from the US, but I only gleamed one US subsidiary (Pilgrim's Pride) that sells poultry. What are the other subsidiaries in the US?

You can actually see the list of brands on their corporate website.

https://jbssa.com/our-business/beef/brands/ https://jbssa.com/our-business/pork/brands/ https://www.pilgrims.com/brands/

I haven't checked their beef products, but the Swift premium brand of pork is pretty common and carried at Costco, for example.

This is an example of plea deals ("delação premiada") gone wrong, as these guys keep going by throwing more money.

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