On January 24, Brasil Wire editor Brian Mier appeared on Eoin Higgins podcast, Flashpoint, to present his analysis of Brazilian Congressman David Miranda and his husband Glenn Greenwald’s abandonment of the PSOL (Socialism and Liberty Party) for the moderate PDT. Glenn had lashed out at Brian earlier that day on Twitter, about a tweet which he felt lied by saying he was supporting Ciro Gomes Presidential Campaign, by the wording, which stated that Miranda had announced this, and by what he believed to be a mischarectarization of the PDT party. He announced, on twitter, that he was going to call into the podcast. After a brief introduction in which Brian gave a short history of Ciro Gomes and the PDT party, Mr. Greenwald called in, and they debated for an hour.
Shortly after the end of the interview, MES, the internal caucus of PSOL that Miranda had just resigned from, released a statement on his exit from the party and migration to PDT.
A section of the statement reads:
“In December, 2021, David and Glenn presented us with David’s plan to leave PSOL to help build the presidential candidacy of Ciro Gomes in PDT. This decision was explained by the lack of of a decision by PSOL in its national Congress last year, on whether to launch its own presidential candidate. Between Lula and Ciro, they preferred to help build the candidacy of Ciro. We tried intensely to get them to revert this decision. We consider their move to be a mistake, due to the bourgeois character of Ciro’s electoral project, which is alien to the essential interests of the people and the working class.”
During the impromptu debate, Mr Greenwald made a serious accusation against Brasil Wire, that it had “lied about me constantly”. He did not cite any examples. We invite readers to look over all 48 mentions of Mr Greenwald on this website since it launched in September 2014, which include multiple articles in his defence, such as this explicit call for solidarity, and make their own judgement on the veracity of his allegation.
The following transcript has been lightly edited for readability. The broadcast can be listened to in its entirety, here.
Brian Mier vs. Glenn Greenwald
Eoin Higgins: Today we are going to be talking about Brazilian politics, specifically David Miranda, Glenn Greenwald, Ciro Gomes and Lula and Bolsonaro. And to talk about that, I am joined by Brian Mier, he is the editor of Brasil Wire, Brazil correspondent for TeleSur and Analyst for Brasil 247 and he’s been living in Brazil for 26 years. Brian, thank you for joining us.</b
Brian Mier: Thanks for having me.
Eoin: Can you break down what happened over the weekend with David Miranda, the PSOL and PDT, and explain those two parties to us?
Brian: David Miranda was a member of the MES tendency (caucus) of the PSOL party, which is the Socialist and Liberty party. It’s a small party which bills itself as being vanguard leftist–with a lot of internal caucuses which argue among themselves–some of them are trotskyist. It split off from the PT in 2005, and since 2006 hasn’t gotten more than around 1.5% of the vote in any presidential election. Historically, it’s voted in alignment with the Workers Party (PT) about 95% of the time in Congress, although many of its members are very anti-PT on a personal level. Historically it’s a bourgeois party–unlike the PT (Workers Party) or even the PDT (Democratic Workers Party) or the PC do B (Communist Party of Brazil) it’s not connected to any labor union federation, and it has one affiliated working class social movement which is the MTST from Sao Paulo. David Miranda announced that he was leaving PSOL after months of public support for Ciro Gomes from his husband Glenn. This, de fato, implies that Glenn is supporting Ciro Gomes in this year’s election, which is what everyone in Brazil believes. Miranda announced that he is leaving the party, that he was moving to Ciro Gomes’ party, the PDT, and he attacked the PT party. He said his reason for leaving is that he is against PSOL aligning with PT and supporting Lula in the presidential election.
So I tweeted about it. And I admit, you try to crunch things down into their size limit, and I made a semantic error.
I said, “Greenwald’s husband David Miranda has left PSOL for the ideologically incoherent PDT, a party of loosely connected local power coalitions ranging from center-right to center-left.”–I’ll get into this point in a second–“He attacked Lula and announced he and Glenn will support Ciro Gomes for President.” Because of this later sentence, which I admit I should have worded as, “he announced he will join Glenn supporting Ciro Gomes for President” or maybe, “he announced that, like Glenn, he will support Ciro Gomes for President,” Glenn called me a pathological liar and a piece of shit and some other things online. He’s getting very explosive. And he’s saying that I don’t know anything about the PDT party.
So what I’d like to do now is give a background on the PDT. It’s a party that Ciro Gomes only joined in 2015. It’s actually the 6th or 7th political party he’s joined. He’s been in both left and right wing parties over the years. The first party he was aligned with was PDS, which descended from ARENA, the official party of the military dictatorship, in 1982 and 1983 while the dictatorship was still underway. Then he joined the right-wing Keynesian PMDB party, which was the only official opposition party allowed during the dictatorship. He remained there until 1990. Then he joined Fernando Henrique Cardoso’s neoliberal PSDB from 1990 to 1997, he then joined PPS which was leftist at the time–it’s now a 3rd way party which has changed its name to Cidadania. Then he joined the center-left socialist party PSB, for about 8 years, he joined a centrist party called PROS for 2 years and finally aligned with PDT from 2015 to the present.
PDT was founded by a legend of the Brazilian left from the pre-dictatorship era named Leonel Brizola, who was married to the sister of the last President who was deposed before the 1964 coup, Jango Goulart. In Phillip Agee’s CIA Diaries, he writes that in the 1960s Brizola was the CIA’s most wanted man in Latin America for a while. When the government opened back up and he was allowed to return from exile he tried to start a new party named after Getulio Vargas’ PTB, but the name was stolen by some people on the right, so he created PDT–the Democratic Labor Party. Essentially at the time it was a technocratic, Keynesian/Developmentalist center-left party which had an alignment with the second biggest labor union federation after CUT, the Força Sindical. What happened, however, is that over the years this party kind of degenerated into a series of loose coalitions of local political power bases, many of which go back hundreds of years. For hundreds of years, many of these regional centers in Brazil had more direct contact with Portugal than they had with each other due to the lack of roads and things like that. I first came in contact with the PDT in 1991 when I was living in Sao Luis, Maranhao, and the mayor was a guy named Jackson Lago who was friends with Fidel Castro. He set up a really good public health system and later become governor briefly and was impeached in a kind of coup around 2010, and I had a good impression of them at the time. Then I began to realize that in other states, the PDT organizations are completely different, ideologically. For example, one of Brizola’s proteges is a prosperity gospel preacher called Anthony Garotinho who became governor of Rio de Janeiro representing PDT and he committed all kinds of atrocities with his military police. And I remember him holding a party in the governors mansion to celebrate the first 100 kills of his military police. He later switched to the PSB–another center left party that is ideologically incoherent, which Ciro Gomes was also a part of for a while. And after Brizola died in the early 2000s, the party became more and more fragmented so that in some states the PDT was aligned with the Lula administration but at the regional and local level in some states it was aligned with right wing parties. So when the time came for the impeachment vote in 2016, they were unable to maintain party discipline and 30% of their Members of Congress voted in favor of the right wing coup against Dilma Rousseff. And then in 2019, when it came to vote on Bolsonaro’s deep neoliberal austerity cuts to the retirement system, 100% of the members of Congress from the real left wing parties in Brazil which are the PT, the PC do B and the PSOL, voted against the reforms but once again, 30% of the Congresspeople from PDT voted in favor of these neoliberal reforms. This is why I call them ideologically incoherent. They are unable to maintain party discipline.
Eoin: Let me ask you a question about that, quickly. You are describing Ciro Gomes bouncing from party to party and you are describing PDT as being ideologically incoherent, but is it so much that that is a different thing, or do politics kind of flow in and out. People have different ideologies in different parties at different times, or is this a situation where most parties have an ideological position that they stick to and then there are parties like PDT that are just kind of incoherent? And if that is the case, why do you think that Miranda is joining this party and leaving PSOL behind?
Brian: Some parties have more discipline than others. I would argue that the U.S. Democratic party doesn’t have very good party discipline because there is always a Joe Lieberman popping up and blocking any kind of initiative to benefit the working class. In Brazil, the right wing parties usually vote together in a block. On the left, the PSOL, the PT and the PC do B have all maintained party discipline really well. They almost always vote together in a block on the same initiatives and the PDT doesn’t. I’m not saying their situation is unique at all, and I would say that they are more left in terms of congressional voting records than another party that is considered center left that is probably entering into coalition with the Lula campaign right now, which is the PSB (Brazilian Socialist Party), which Gomes was also part of. What was your question about Ciro Gomes again?
Eoin: I was just using him as an example of somebody bouncing around from party to party because I know that in one of your tweets you said that people in Brazil kind of view it as opportunism and maybe that’s why he’s polling at 4%. And I know that we have Glenn on the line. But I just want to finish this quickly here, which is, if you can just kind of explain that sense of opportunism, and also why Miranda’s move could be seen like this in Brazil.
Brian: Personally, I believe that it’s a move based on opportunism. I think he’s switching to Ciro Gomes’ current party because he wants to support the campaign. And I view this campaign with a lot of skepticism. Even though, if you look at Gomes political record, which spans left and right wing parties, with a few exceptions of some really neoliberal things he did in the 90s, he’s been pretty consistently what you could call a petit bourgeois nationalist. He’s making some promises like renationalizing the state petroleum company that are consistent with at least the last 20 years of his political career. The problem is that he’s like an Elizabeth Warren candidate in that he is clearly being used to divide the left and push the election to the second round. And he’s even admitted this in interviews. The President of PDT also recently said he’s hoping that the second round would be between Ciro Gomes and Lula.
Eoin: Got it. Well, I’m going to invite Glenn in here now. Michael I know you are the next caller but because we have been talking about Glenn I think it’s only fair to let him skip ahead here and talk a little bit with us. Glenn, would you like to say your piece here?
Glenn Greenwald: Thanks Eoin. I do want to address some of the kind of substantive political points about PDT and also about PT. Because the idea of accusing other parties of being ideologically incoherent when Lula is about to choose as his vice presidential running mate a long time, pro austerity, pro banker, center right, neoliberal named Geraldo Alckmin who not only has been the arch-nemesis of PT for the last 30 years, who PT has spent 30 years claiming wants to kill poor people by stealing their social programs but he also, unlike Ciro, who was one of the leading opponents of the attempt to impeach Dilma in 2016, Alckmin was a leading proponent of impeaching Dilma which according to PT was a coup–that that is actually a coup. So Lula is about to install, into the second most powerful office in the country, a center-right, pro-banker, austerity advocate, who according to PT, supported a coup, a coup 5 years ago, that not only did Ciro oppose but that I created the Intercept Brazil in order to oppose. That’s ideological inconsistency. But I want to just ask you Brian, because before we get into the substance, I do just want to clarify the claim you made about me. Because you referenced the harsh language that I used, and I admit I do get angry when people falsely represent my beliefs. I try to be very careful and meticulous about expressing my views as they actually exist. So the tweet that you posted which went–I wouldn’t say viral but it has 300 retweets 1200 likes, it formed what a lot of people on the American left believe about my husband’s announcement. You said, “Greenwald’s husband, Congressman David Miranda has left PSOL, and announced that he and his husband Glenn will support Ciro Gomes for President.” Now I realize that you then, at the beginning of what you said, acknowledged–I think you called it a poor choice of words. But to me it seems like a total fabrication, like David didn’t mention anything in his letter about who I am supporting for President. Why would he? He didn’t even allude to that, so I’d like to know where you got that. And then also this claim that you are making that, oh, OK, well maybe David didn’t announce that Glenn is supporting Ciro even though I tweeted that I’ve left this tweet up now that I acknowledge it’s false but everyone knows that Glenn is really supporting Ciro. Where do you get that from? How am I supporting Ciro? I do want to talk about my relationship with PT, which has been very close, my relationship with Dilma and Lula is very personal, very close, very supportive over the years. So where do you, why do you say that? Where do you get the idea that I am supporting Ciro from?
Brian: First of all Glenn, let me just say this. I’m not a Pulitzer prize winning Journalist. I live in a favela and I make about a thousand dollars a month. I’ve been in Brazil 26 years, closely following Ciro Gomes’ career and the PT. The reason I say that you are supporting Ciro is that you just exemplified it. You just repeated one of his campaign talking points about Lula. And you’ve been doing this constantly for months.
Glenn: can you just say …..
Brian: I was very polite …
Eoin: Guys, let’s do this, let’s have Brian speak his piece, Glenn. And then when he’s done, we’ll let you speak.
Glenn: fair enough. Go ahead.
Brian: I very humbly allowed you to make your points. Anyway, that’s one of Ciro’s talking points. Regardless of how bad Alckmin is, let’s remember that Ciro Gomes was in his party for 7 years. Ciro was a member of his party. And Alckmin has left the PSDB and he’s probably aligning with another one of Ciro’s former parties, the PSB. So instead of looking at candidacies in an individualist manner, I look at them structurally. Structurally I don’t have that much of a problem with Ciro. The problem is his party which is structurally and ideologically incoherent. They were unable to maintain party discipline during the impeachment, so Ciro has joined a party of which 30 percent of its federal congresspeople voted in favor of a coup. Do you not believe it was a coup? You say the PT called it a coup. I call it a coup and I am not a member of the PT.
Glenn: Yeah so do I, so do I
Brian: Once again, I’m trying to talk. It’s hard
Glenn: I thought you asked me a question. I thought…
Brian: I’m just trying to answer your points. If you’d please let me continue. I’ve lost my train of thought now. It’s a right wing tactic to interrupt people when they are talking. It’s a Fox news thing.
Glenn: you asked me a question
Brian: I didn’t interrupt during all your questions. The reason Lula is contemplating choosing Geraldo Alckmin as a running mate is that it is a tactic to take control of the Sao Paulo governorship which would give the PT control of the two largest governments in Brazil. And probably control of Rio de Janeiro’s state government with Marcelo Freixo. That is the tactic behind it. Having an enemy like Geraldo Alckmin close to you in the vice-presidential position, tactically from their point of view is better than having him as governor of Sao Paulo in charge of its military police knowing his horrible record on that. As far as the semantics of my tweet, I apologized to you online. If you had just messaged me or sent me an email I would have reworded it. Unfortunately you can’t edit on Twitter. I should have said, “he’s joined Glenn in supporting Ciro Gomes for President.” You know. I apologize. I admit it. Now, you calling me a pathological liar, knowing that I am a very low paid journalist who supports his family off of this stuff I think is a much graver offense than miswording a tweet. You are a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist and you are calling another journalist a pathological liar.
Glenn: Brasil Wire has lied about me constantly. But it’s amazing that you are simultaneously acknowledging that you made a false claim about me and played the victim because I objected, it is a serious thing, Brian, to claim that as a journalist, I’m supporting a candidate that I’m actually not supporting. And even worse to claim that my husband announced my support for that candidate. Like if I were to make a mistake in making a claim about somebody that went viral, I would go and apologize and delete the tweet and retract it and explain what I meant to say. Not attack the person who you just made a false claim about for objecting. Like, the fact that you live in a certain place or make a certain income doesn’t justify your posting a tweet that a lot of people believe, that my husband announced that I was supporting Ciro Gomes. I don’t support Ciro Gomes. So it’s just not true. The entire tweet about me is false. And the only reason this tweet got attention, is because of the claim that you made about who I was supporting. That I am supporting this, like centrist, neoliberal instead of this wonderful leftist. None of that is true. I’m not supporting Ciro. That’s the first thing. The second thing is, and this is the point that I want to convey more than anything else. There is this massive misconception about who Lula is and what PT is among parts of the American left that don’t pay much attention to Brazil. The party that my husband was in, is called PSOL. PSOL was created in 2004, when Lula was president. During the first year of his presidency. PSOL was a party created by former members of PT who quit PT in protest of Lula’s neoliberalism. They argued that Lula was imposing all kinds of austerity measures on retirement benefits that bankers had long wanted, that he had given up his left wing roots, that there was nothing socialist about his party. They also objected to corruption scandals that were plaguing PT. So PSOL was a party that formed to oppose Lula and PT from the left. There’s an enormous amount of opposition to Lula and PT from the left. And David’s party has never supported PT in any election in the first round. So the whole idea that David left PSOL and now it means he’s not supporting Lula is completely false. PSOL was created to be an opposition party to PT from the left. It was never part of PT’s government. It was always opposing PT from the left. And Ciro, aside from the fact that, like I said, he opposed the impeachment of Dilma while Lula’s new friends–including the person he’s about to make Vice President of the country–supported impeachment. Ciro’s criticism of Lula is also from the left. There’s an article that anyone who is interested should go read in Carta Capital which is a long time leftist magazine–it happens to be where I work as a columnist and Ciro also is a columnist for Carta Capital. The last article that Ciro published was in December of last year and the headline was “13 years of PT in power did not resolve in any progressive advancement”. And then the sub headline is, “there’s no project that PT has presenting because PT has delivered the country to the forces of international capital and finance.” That’s Ciro’s critique of Lula, just like my husband’s old party critiqued Lula from the left as being too much of a neoliberal, of having tried to please international capital. Lula did a lot for the poor during his time in office but the rich also got richer and inequality continued to be very severe and Ciro is running on a platform of alleviating inequality and my husband who grew up as an orphan in one of Rio’s worst favelas only has one issue, and that issue is inequality. And that’s why he left his party because they are about to support Lula instead of Ciro who my husband believes, especially with Geraldo Alckmin about to be on the ticket, is going to be a more left wing candidate than Lula. Now you can disagree with that, but claiming that he gave up his socialist roots or he moved to the right is absolutely false, as he made clear in his letter he’s doing it because he thinks Lula is too much of a neoliberal and too closely tied to the finance industry to do anything about inequality.
Eoin: Let me just jump in her real quick before Brian responds. I just want to say one note which is that, Glenn, I understand your complaint about the tweet, but I think that one of the reasons that it went viral and people paid attention to it as well, is that your husband is a public figure and he’s pretty well known in the U.S. so him making a political change like this is something that people in the U.S. are also interested in. I don’t think it’s solely because of your support of Ciro.
Glenn: Eoin, do you really think there’s a lot of interest in the political career of a single Brazilian Congressman absent the fact that he’s married to me in the United States? You’re really going to say that, there’s like a separate interest in David’s…
Eoin: Maybe it is all about you, but I find Brazilian politics interesting and I find your husband’s politics interesting and I was certainly interested in this story before I really had any idea about your position on Ciro or Lula, which I hadn’t really been following, but anyway Brian, go ahead.
Brian: Glenn, I think it’s hilarious. You said my tweet didn’t viralize, but then you said it viralized, and you insist that you are not supporting Ciro but you are using up all of this time to repeat all of his talking points, which most people don’t believe. That’s why he’s polling at 4%. Remember that the most neoliberal anti-inflationary program ever implemented in Latin America during the crisis of the 1990s in countries like Peru, Mexico and Brazil, was the Real Plan which gave Brazil the World’s highest interest rates. For years, Brazil was in the Guinness Book of World Records for highest interest rates–that’s a tenet of neoliberalism. And the architect of that plan was Ciro Gomes, while he was in Fernando Henrique Cardoso’s PSDB party, as Finance Minister in the right wing Itamar Franco administration. So Ciro can say whatever he wants but people don’t usually listen to it.
This is a fairy tale about the founding of the PSOL. I lived in Brazil when the PSOL was founded. The PT kicked out many of its Troskyists for not siding with it on a retirement reform package that penalized some of the richest government workers who had retirement pensions that were higher than their salaries, while bringing in tens of millions of rural informal sector workers into the retirement system. And this, in a study by IPEA, was the second biggest factor in lifting 40 million people out of poverty during the Lula government after his massive minimum wage increases- with minimum wage suppression being another key tenet of neoliberalism. The Bolsa Familia program was a distant 3rd in terms of, not just reducing poverty but inequality, because Brazil had record levels of inequality reduction, measured by the GINI coefficient, during the PT years. So this stuff you are rehashing, from the PSOL’s trotskyist creation myth and the hot air that Ciro is blustering about what he will do if he is elected in a scenario in which 30% of the congressmen in his own party are snakes… It’s hard to believe you when you say that you are not supporting Ciro. And your recent comments, including your attacks on the PT, your misleading information about the PT and your misleading information about Ciro, doesn’t sustain this argument that you are not supporting him.
Glenn: first of all you just got done saying that this critique is a critique of PSOL, the socialist party from the left.
Brian: I said both.
Glenn: I thought.. Are we going to have an exchange or are you going to talk over me I though that was…
Eoin: Let Glenn respond please.
Glenn: That was a weird right wing tactic to interrupt me while I was talking . So this is a critique.
Brian: Point taken, Glenn.
Glenn: Again, what are you doing?
Eoin: Let’s try to be adults here.
Glenn: OK the reason that there is a left wing opposition to Lula and PT, of which my husband was a part, as part of that party, is precisely because of this partnership that Lula has with the bankers, with the oligarchs of Brazil, as represented by his choice of Geraldo Alckmin as his vice president that is all but finalized is because Lula has governed as a neoliberal. He’s way more like Chuck Shumer than he is like Jeremy Corbyn or Evo Morales or even Bernie Sanders. And the odd part of what Brian said is he accused my husband, when you asked him Eion, of why he thinks David decided to switch parties, Brian said, “I think it’s opportunism” , and then he quickly added because he believes in Ciro’s program. If it’s true that Ciro is some loser, fringe politician that’s only polling at 3% and that’s a complete exaggeration, Ciro got 13% when he ran in 2018, he’s usually at 8 or 10% in most polls. There was one poll that came out at 3%, but let’s say that he is at 3%, let’s say that he is a total loser. How is it opportunism to go from supporting the most popular candidate, which is clearly Lula, to supporting a candidate that Brian himself says nobody believes in. Why would that be opportunism–that’s the opposite of opportunism. David left because he doesn’t want to be part of a party that is subservient to the politician that he believes governed as a neoliberal. And, you know, there is all kinds of, I mean, again. I am not a hater of PT. I almost went to Prison in 2020 in order to do reporting that got Lula out of jail. Lula wrote me a letter in 2020, the last letter he chose to write before he was released from prison, because of my reporting, saying that he is so grateful to the service that I performed for Brazilian democracy, that he regards me as one of his closest friends, that he has eternal solidarity for me. I am not an enemy of PT. I created the Intercept Brasil in 2016 because there were no media outlets opposing what I do regard as a coup. And this is why, Brian, I am so horrified that Lula is going to pick one of the leaders of that coup. This is not a coup from 35 years ago, or even 15 years ago, we’re talking about 2016 when Geraldo Alckmin and his party led an attempt to remove Dilma from office because they didn’t like the outcome of the 2014 elections and they installed in her place, this incredibly corrupt, old austerity imposing scumbag who proceeded to “reform” retirement benefits. That guy was vice president because Lula and PT entered a cynical partnership with him and he became vice president, and then he led the coup along with Geraldo Alckmin and removed Dilma from office. During that time, my husband was vehemently denouncing that coup, I formed a media outlet to denounce that coup, Ciro was one of the leading opponents of that coup and the person that Lula is about to embrace and put on the ticket, and make the second most powerful person in the country, also was one of the leaders of the coup. And he has spent his entire life in servitude to banks and international capital. So you have this party, that has spent 2 decades in an alliance with oligarchs and neoliberals, and the defenders of this party have the audacity to accuse other people of being ideologically incoherent. I agree with a lot of your criticisms of the PDT Ciro went to war with the people in his party who were supporting this reform of the retirement system, he tried to kick out of his own party the people who supported these austerity measures. But Lula has been in bed with those people for decades and is about to embrace one of them as his vice presidential running mate. David said in his letter, neigther PSOL or PDT or PT are perfect, they all have serious imperfections and so you have to pick which path you think you can best do your politics on, in order to have your voice heard and be able to do the politics you believe in. But how can you accuse David of doing something out of opportunism when he’s abandoning the strongest faction by your own reckoning, and going to a candidate and a party that is way behind in the polls. You only do that out of conviction. Not out of opportunism.
At this point, it comes out that Brian has missed Glenn’s comments due to an internet issue, and Glenn take two minutes to summarize his points [this summary is omitted from the transcript].
Brian: OK let’s just remind everyone that Ciro Gomes was a right wing governor. He was a member of a right wing political party when he was in command of one of the most racist military police apparatus in Brazil, in Ceara. Last year, 100% of the people killed by Ceara’s military police were black. He was governor of that state a long time ago, but he was in a right wing party at the time. I didn’t use the word “loser”. You’re putting words in my mouth. I didn’t use the word loser to describe Ciro. I provided accurate polling data. His average support level in the last 4 polls is around 5% with a 2% margin of error. One puts him at 3, another puts him at 7, another puts him at 4, averaging about 5%. Why does his candidacy matter? It’s because he’s being built up by international capital and international global elites, the billionaire and millionaire class as an Elizabeth Warren/Yaku Perez style 3rd path candidate in these elections. He’s been negotiating with all of the right wing parties as well. You can’t get elected in President in Brazil without bringing a right wing party into your coalition–that’s a fact. No one’s ever done it, ever. OK. But the whole point of his candidacy is not to win–it’s to divide the left. You say you are only rehashing PSOL’s criticism of PT but you went into this long explanation about how Ciro writes for the same magazine as you, Carta Capital. And you rehash his criticism, not PSOL’s, of Lula. It just seems a little bit like mental gymnastics at this point.
Glenn: Yeah, OK. First, look. I mean, people have criticisms of me and one criticism people generally don’t have of me is that I’m timid or shy about my views. If I were supporting Ciro I would admit I was supporting Ciro. I like Ciro. I think he’s smart. I think he has a lot of competence. Go and look at the interviews I conducted with him, they are extremely adversarial because that’s what I see my role as being. I spent three years or four years in Brazil being accused of being a hard core petista, because I went all over the world denouncing the impeachment against Dilma which had the support of 70% of the people, and then the next thing that I did, was spend a year and a half of my life having to walk around in Brazil with armed security because the reporting that I did led to the freeing of Lula. So neither David or I are enemies of PT or Lula or Dilma. Quite the contrary, we have extremely good personal relationships with each of them. And very good professional relationships with them as well. And the work that I’ve done in Brazil has been largely to the benefit of PT. The problem is simply that the governing strategy of Lula the “pragmatism” that he uses, is one that–I agree with PSOL I agree with leftist critics of Lula, I agree with Ciro–does not produce real left politics. It does produce some benefits for the poor, just like Elizabeth Warren’s would, just like Joe Biden’s build back better would–that is what neoliberalism is. You make sure the rich keep the system that ensures that they stay wealthy. The rich got way richer under Lula, and this idea that, like, international capital is supporting Ciro is the exact opposite of the truth. The establishment has coalesced around Lula. Which is why he’s going to Geraldo Alckmin because that’s what gives him that establishment support. Alckmin is from the party, PSDB, he did technically leave it two months ago, but he’s been a member forever. He’s PSDB in his bones and his blood. That is the party that’s the party of Globo, the party of the bourgeoisie, the party of the establishment, and this unity ticket.. The best analogy I can think of for Lula choosing Geraldo Alckmin as his vice president, would be if Joe Biden picked Mitch McConnell or Paul Ryan. It’s not like if Bernie Sanders had gotten the nomination and then picked like a centrist Democrat like Tim Caine. It’s not like that at all. The analogue to Geraldo Alckmin, the guy Lula is about to pick, is Paul Ryan or Mitch McConnell, they are just like standard classic, center left austerity freaks who have been supported by banks and international capital their entire lives. They hate Bolsonaro because he’s an embarrassment for the same reason that a lot of establishment republicans are embarrassed by Trump. Bolsonaro is a bridge way to far for any of them. But they are not, in any way, anything having remotely to do with the left. Now Ciro also tried to build a bridge to that camp. Ciro is also trying to do politics. Ciro wants to win the election just like Lula wants to win the election. So like I said, I’m not saying that Ciro is this savior of the left. Nor am I saying that Lula is this villain. Lula did do a lot of good things during his presidency. The problem is that the kind of politics Lula does is status quo preserving. And David, speaking for him, not for me, believes that supporting Ciro and going to PDT and renovating the legacy of Brizola, which you correctly described as this legend of the left. Brizola built the public schools which serve the favelas that David grew up in, David went to school at a school that Brizola built, that PDT built. That this party led the way in fostering. That where David is going in order to build a new kind of politics that’s separate from this hardcore populism of PT. You can definitely disagree with it. But the claim that David has like, abandoned his socialist politics and become this, like, I don’t know, 3rd way centrist. You know that’s fucking bullshit.
Brian: Can I answer, now that you are swearing at me? First of all, you have a very weak knowledge of what neoliberalism is. Build back better, if it had been implemented the way Biden first presented it, was an example of Keynesianism, not neoliberalism. That’s very rudimentary. Neoliberalism doesn’t just mean the poor get less poor and the rich get richer. That’s not what neoliberalism is. It’s based on monetarist economic dogma, and it involves the kind of austerity conditionalities that Brazil was tied to for the first two years of Lula’s government. He couldn’t increase funding for health and education because of the conditionalities imposed by the IMF loans that were made by Fernando Henrique Cardoso at a time when Ciro Gomes was a member of Cardoso’s party. That’s why Joao Paulo Stedile from the MST, for example, and many other left thinkers, consider that Lula’s government in Brazil was a kind of hybrid of Raul Prebisch, Celso Furtado-style Developmentalism with some elements of neoliberalism which were necessary to avoid being Couped. No party has ever taken power in Brazil without going into coalition with these right wing parties that are a holdover from the dictatorship. And I didn’t say that Ciro is the candidate of international capital to win the election. He’s the Yaku Perez style candidate of international capital to divide the left, which is what you are doing, bringing up all of these factually questionable criticisms of the PT during an election year and praising Ciro Gomes, like you are doing again. You are using the space on this program to campaign for Ciro Gomes.
Glenn: Can I just say one quick point? It’s genuinely bizarre, this critique that you are dividing the left in an election year, this is what Hilary Clinton and Neerah Tandon and the DNC say about people who vote for Jill Stein or Bernie Sanders–you’re dividing the left, yes Hilary Clinton’s not perfect but she’s our best chance to defeat fascism. In Brazil it’s even more irrational, there are 28 parties. There’s a first round and a second round of voting. The left has always had the liberty to vote for the person they think is the best person in the first round. Obviously if Lula faces Bolsonaro or Lula faces Moro in the second round, David is going to support Lula, like he’s always done. Like PSOL has always done. But this rhetoric of, like, ‘oh my God, you’re dividing the left by supporting the candidate you think is better’, this is DNC rhetoric deployed against the left.
Brian: Comparing the PT with Hilary Clinton is just outrageous, but whatever. And you refused to interview Fernando Haddad in 2018 when he was running for President.
Glenn: I asked Haddad 100 times. I interviewed Lula in 2018, we had a request to interview Lula in the court house and it got denied. I tried to interview Lula and Haddad. The court blocked Lula and Haddad didn’t answer. I did interview Lula in…
Brian: But you didn’t.
Eoin: OK, the question that I have Glenn, and this is kind of just going off what you were saying before. What’s the difference between what you are saying is like this privatism from Lula and joining a party like the PDT, oh, sorry. Like PDT’s approach, where you have like, 30% of the actual party itself taking these right wing positions? How are those two different? Aren’t they both kind of pragmatic centrist approaches?
Glenn: Yes. Neither Ciro nor Lula nor PT nor PDT are perfect representations of left wing socialism they are definitely not even like Jeremy Corbyn, who you know is probably my favorite politician because of his refusal to make compromises even when he got close to power. Both Lula and Ciro are much more cunning and like politically flexible politicians. The reason that David feels like PDT is a better path is because Lula has already demonstrated how he governs. It is a very kind of stagnant, status quo perpetuating form of governance. The fact that he’s joining hands with Alckmin signifies that he intends to do that even more than ever before, there’s this sense that just like there was with Trump, that we have to get rid of Bolsonaro and return to normalcy, stabilize Brazil in the international market, where as Ciro is a more outsider kind of candidate. Not in terms of how he has lived his life. He’s been in politics all his life. But in terms of his mentality, in terms of his personality, and the important thing for David, is that–everyone believes Lula is going to win. The important thing for David is that opposition to Lula comes not only from the Bolsonaro right, but that there is a healthy, vibrant, opposition to Lula once he wins, from the left, which joining PT and subsuming yourself under PT will basically ensure it doesn’t happen, whereas Ciro is definitely going to aboard against Lula whether he wins or not. That’s David’s thinking and his strategy.
Brian: First of all, it’s a false equivalency to associate PDT with PT in terms of pragmatism because of the two clear examples I gave. On the impeachment and the neoliberal deep austerity retirement reforms, 100% of PT’s Congresspeople opposed both of those measures. 30% of PDT supported both of those measures. Therefore, it’s a false equivalency. And you’ve also made some false equivalencies with the PSDB party, which after all, is the Social Democratic Party of Brasil. Now, it’s true, they created the anti-PTism and Fernando Henrique Cardoso was a Clintonian disaster. Nevertheless, I’ve lived for years in a state that’s been governed by the PSDB the entire time, and former PSDB ex-governor of Sao Paulo Geraldo Alckmin believes in free universal access to public health and public education. I can’t afford health insurance but I go to the doctor all the time in the free, public clinics that were set up by the PSDB. So there is a little bit of nuance that’s being missed with these false equivalencies you’re trying to make, between Lula and Hilary Clinton and me and the DNC making it sound like a justification to vote for Biden who I didn’t vote for. As me and Professors Sean Mitchell and Bryan Pitts pointed out in an article we wrote last year criticizing Jacobin’s PSOL-heavy coverage of PT during the coup period, it’s a common false equivalency of U.S. analysts to make these comparisons with the Democratic party in which Lula symbolizes Democratic party elites. It’s ridiculous because he comes out of the labor union movement and there has never been a former labor union leader president in the Democratic party or in the U.S.. It’s a common mistake. It’s a form of stringing together mind-stopping cliches that affects the minds of people who don’t know much about Brazil. But there is too much nuance there. It’s not the case in any of those comparisons. Not between the PT and PDT in terms of pragmatism, not [ associating the DNC with] referring to Ciro Gomes as a Yaku Perez style candidate whose main goal is to split the left and drive the election to a second term so the international right can rally behind Bolsonaro–none of that holds water. Even comparing PSDB and the democrats doesn’t.
Glenn: Hey Brian I have a few quick questions for you, quick questions. First of all you were very critical of the police under Ciro’s government in Ceara 20 years ago. How do you feel the police performed in Sao Paulo during the three terms when Alckmin was governor of Sao Paulo? Pretty good there? Pretty good to black people and poor people, the Sao Paulo police? Thumbs up?
I have another quick question. Tell the room who financed PT over the last 20 years. Where did the financing come from for PT and Lula’s campaign?
Brian: Thank you for asking about the police. I lived both in Rio de Janeiro, which has a long legacy of PDT governors, with the governors controlling the military police. Average police murders per year, around 1800 in the state of Rio de Janeiro. Sao Paulo also has horrible military police–I’m not going to defend them, but Sao Paulo has over twice the population of Rio, and not only are police murders much lower than they are in Rio de Janeiro maybe 10 times lower maybe 180 last year. But if you control for race, the racial discrepancy is much lower. I’m not saying their not racist, but I would favorably compare them to the military police in Rio de Janeiro. I lived 8 years in Rio, 10 years in Sao Paulo, 9 years in the Northeast. I lived in Maranhao, Recife and Salvador. And most the time in poor communities with a lot of contact. I know people who were killed by the police. I saw an off duty police man light a homeless person on fire once. So I have a lot of experience. I’ve seen people get shot by the police before. And that’s my analysis of that.
As far as campaign financing, I don’t know. I know there are multiple donors but there were restrictions as to how much could be donated until the coup–its opened up more but it still doesn’t compare with U.S. level donors. For example how much Rupert Murdoch can donate to a republican in the United States or something like that.
Glenn: well, first of all I don’t know why you mentioned Rio. Rio hasn’t been governed by PDT since 20 years ago. The last PDT governor of Rio de Janeiro was Garotinho who was done in 2002. But I mean if you ask anyone on the left what they think of the Sao Paulo police under Alckmin, the person who Lula is about to make the second most powerful politician in Brazil, they’ll tell you that it’s an incredibly violent, brutal, racist police force that Alckmin presided over. He, like, unleashed them on, like, the homeless labor movement. All kinds of protests, he just would send the military police and the civil police in to completely maul people. And PT has been funded–you didn’t really answer–by the biggest corporations in Brazil. OAS, Odebrecht, all the people who got caught up in a corruption scandal. And yes, the prosecutors and the judges were very corrupt, that’s what my reporting shows. But so were a lot of the corporations that have been funding PT for the last 20 years. Millions of dollars, pouring into the coffers of the PT and Lula in the last 20 years, from the most gigantic corporations in the country and they got their money’s worth because they did very well under his government. Which is why they are coalescing now behind Lula and Alckmin. So it’s just not–the idea that like,PT is like this real left–No one believes that! Which is why there’s so much left wing opposition to Lula. And yes, people want Bolsonaro out, so badly that they are going to coalesce behind Lula. I have very little doubt that Lula’s going to win. That’s the reason though. It’s because of the Anti-bolsonaro sentiment of people who are desperate to get Bolsonaro out and Lula’s clearly the best choice. But to present Lula and PT as this kind of like, pure left wing project, when they’ve had nothing but establishment support from every direction for so long, is amazing. And the final thing I’ll say is, its going to be bizarre, for the last 20 years, PSDB, which was Alckmin’s party until recently, has been the party that ran against the PT in every election. Every 4 years PT will say, PSDB wants to murder your babies, they want to starve your kids, their fascist, their racist now suddenly that Lula wants to put them on the ticket, suddenly now, “oh no, they’re really nice people, they believe in like Universal health care, their really not that bad. The police aren’t as racist as other, other states. Just go and look what PT has been saying about PSDB for the last 20 years and about Alckmin and now that Lula wants to embrace him as vice president, now suddenly, “oh no, they’re really nice guys, just like Joe Biden”. I mean, it’s a complete….
Brian: Let me step in here because you are lying through your teeth. PT is not forming a coalition with PSDB. You’re lying, Glenn. Geraldo Alckmin left the PSDB. He’s joining PSB, Ciro Gomes’ former party. PT is not forming a coalition with PSDB. Stop lying. Also stop giving misinformation about the Lava Jato investigation that your own former employer, the billionaire Pierre Omidyar’s publication Intercept worked hard to debunk. Now your pulling out Lava Jato stories about mysterious corporate campaign donors to PT? You called me a pathological liar. The last left opposition that you talk about as being so grand and huge, only got 500,000 votes–500,000 votes in the last presidential election Glenn. Brazil has 212 million people. 500,000 votes for Guilherme Boulos doesn’t constitute a huge left opposition to the PT. Now you are just making stuff up. This might fly with people who don’t live in Brazil but not with someone who actually lives here. And I also didn’t say that the Sao Paulo military police is good. Stop putting words in my mouth.
Glenn: Can I ask you about Odebrecht and OAS, the corporations that I said were…
Brian: The companies that were bankrupted in 2015, by Lava Jato, causing 4.4 million job losses?
Glenn: I’m asking you about Odebrecht and OAS, the two corporate giants…
Brian: that are bankrupt.
Glenn: Are they corrupt, those two corporations?
Brian: They’re bankrupt. The Lava Jato investigation bankrupted them. Alvarez & Marsal, the U.S. law firm, is overseeing their restructuring. The U.S. DOJ worked with Lava Jato to bankrupt them to open up space for even more corrupt construction companies like Halliburton in Brazil. That’s what happened. You’re bringing up these skeletons from the past, but if you look at how Lava Jato really went down, its kind of disgusting to see you using Lava Jato rumors and hearsay to attack Lula from a position that you say is from the left, but you are a Fox news commentator. So I’m wondering about this and I’m not sure that you are really on the left.
Glenn: I really need an answer. Are Odebrecht and OAS corrupt? These corporations are they corrupt? These billionaire corporations that..
Brian: Were they?
Glenn: Are they corrupt or not?
Brian: That’s a cliche. I would say that every construction company that operates in a capitalist system is corrupt. According to the World Bank, it’s one of the 5 most corrupt industries in the World. But these national construction industries in Brazil were a lot less corrupt than the predatory U.S. companies like Halliburton that were allowed to come in after the U.S. DOJ worked together with the Lava Jato task-force to bankrupt Brazil’s 5 largest construction companies by legally freezing all of their operations during the lead up to the 2016 coup, greatly exacerbating what CEPR and Mark Weisbrot called a minor recession that was caused by a miscalculation of the Selic rate by Guido Mantega. Every business in a capitalist system is corrupt–Fox news is incredibly corrupt. Everything is corrupt in capitalism. I agree.
Glenn: Did Odebrecht and OAS bribe politicians?
Brian: I’m not going to engage in a conversation with you based on Lava Jato. That is a Sergio Moro question Glenn. I don’t have enough information on that. The only existing information on this is from Lava Jato.
Eoin: OK I think this line of conversation is a dead end. Obviously we are not going to come on any kind of agreement even on the terms of the debate here. We’re already a little over time, so I just kind of want to give each of you a chance to kind of say your peice. And maybe if we can try to get it to the point where we are not kind of turning it into questions and attacks again and we’re just kind of stating our piece and just end it there. So Glenn, go ahead, and Brian, I’ll give you the last word.
Glenn: Sure, so the sole provocation for my being at all angry was the fact that there was a tweet posted that lots of people including obviously Eoin saw that formed their impressions about what my husband did that made a claim about me that I think Brian is now acknowledging is false, which I hope he will not delete, or not just say in this room of 30 people is false, but on his own twitter feed, which is that my husband announced that I was supporting Ciro. The claim that I am supporting Ciro is completely false. I’m not supporting any of the candidates, and working as a journalist covering the election, there definitely are things that Ciro says that I agree with. There are lots of things that Lula and Dilma say that I agree with. I’ll remind everybody in this room that a year ago I almost went to prison because of the reporting that I did that freed Lula from prison. The only reason that people like Brian even get to support Lula as opposed to crying over the fact that he was in jail, is because I spent 18 months of my life doing reporting that got him out of prison.
The second point that I’ll make is that anyone can say stuff in all of these rooms. So if you are interested in knowing how PT actually governed, go and read about–there’s a great article in the Washington Post by Alex Cuadros–he’s a journalist who spent many years in Brazil, about why even the left and members of PT began abandoning PT in 2016 during the impeachment when huge number of people who previously voted for PT supported the impeachment at the time against Dilma. I did not support the impeachment at the time of Dilma, but what it basically says is, this Washington Post article by Alex Cuadros, it goes through all of the ways that both Lula and Dilma violated their own rhetoric and Lula’s background as a union leader, by serving the richest sectors of society, by doing things like cutting down huge portions of the Amazon to build a gigantic hydroelectric dam that caused Lula’s environment minister Marina Silva to quit in protest and then run against Dilma as President, about the ways in which Lula and Dilma enacted very authoritarian laws like an anti-terrorism law that could easily be used to criminalize social movements and protest movements and many on the left were really fearful about this law. Huge numbers of ways that Lula and Dilma joined hands with the banking and the oligarchical industry. Brian is right in some of his critiques of Ciro. I fully acknowledge that. Ciro is far from a perfect left wing leader. But my husband and his career have been fully in defense of left wing values and you can disagree with his practical judgment, but PDT and Ciro is a better place for him to do the politics to which he’s devoted his life. But the idea that it’s like opportunism, or him moving to the right, makes no sense, if you believe Brian, that Ciro is a failed candidate and is likely to lose because there’s no opportunism possible in joining Ciro, the only reason why you would do that is out of conviction and that is why David did it. In contrast, I have not. I’m not supporting any of the candidates, I intend to interview Ciro. I’m sure I’ll interview Lula. I’ll probably interview Bolsonaro. And I’m going to interview all of the candidates like I always do whenever I can, each year that they say yes.
Brian: Once again you are putting words in my mouth. It’s interesting that Glenn would bring up the coup normalizer Alex Cuadros. I suggest everyone check out his 2017 New Yorker article, published only a few months before Lula was arrested calling Lula’s impending arrest the most important arrest in Brazilian history. He was cheerleading for Lula’s what we all know was an obvious kangaroo court procedure which even Glenn has admitted was designed to remove Lula from the elections and deliver the presidency to Bolsonaro. In October, 2017, Glenn gave an award, on stage, to Chief Lava Jato Prosecutor Dalton Dallagnol, praising what he called the courage of the Lava Jato team. He did this despite the fact that, months earlier, it came out that they had illegally wire tapped Lula’s defense teams law offices for 30 days–something that would have caused immediate disbarring of the judge who authorized it–in this case Sergio Moro–in any other country in the World. And this was over a year after they had wire tapped a standing president, Dilma in a conversation with Lula, and released it to the press. But he was still praising them in October 2017, which is why I think he is still bringing up these Lava Jato style arguments. And finally, the big lie. Lula was released from prison due to the actions of his defense team. And it was only after the Supreme Court turned over all of the Operation Spoofing leaked Telegram conversations to the defense team. The hacker, Walter Delgatti, who is now facing a 300 year prison sentence, praised Glenn’s courage for accepting the tiny amount of leaks that he accepted but he said he was disappointed that Glenn only agreed to accept 3% of the data. After this data was received, it took over a year–after Glenn had left the organization–for the Intercept to release the story about the constant, biweekly meetings between 18 members of the FBI and the Lava Jato task-force, which went on for 5 years. The information from Operation Spoofing was released homeopathically to generate clicks. If it had all been turned over to the public like Julian Assange would have done, maybe Lula could have gotten out of prison earlier. As the case turned out, he was only released from Prison after the Supreme Court had seized all the data and turned it over to Lula’s defense team. But the legal argument [that caused all of the convictions of Lula to be reversed] had been submitted before the leaks came out. So you have to be very careful listening to what he claims about different things. And I do think that it’s a glaring omission that in 2018 he didn’t interview Fernando Haddad. That’s all I really have to say. I think that anyone who’s listened to this podcast can figure out that he is supporting Ciro Gomes. It’s laughable now that he would even make an assertion that he is not supporting Ciro Gomes after rehashing all of his conspiracy theories and arguments and attempts to present himself as being a leftist from his campaign over the last year. And one final thing, the subgroup of PSOL party that David Miranda used to belong to is called the MES. Its leader, Luciana Genro, publicly supported Lava Jato and publicly supported the impeachment of Dilma Rousseff until the party ordered her to be quiet and retract her statements in 2016. That’s all I have to say. I already said on Twitter that I should have worded that tweet differently. It’s in a response to some comments you made but I’ll put it up on my twitter feed as well.