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The Brazilian writer saw the tweet as a tame satire. Then a proceeding was filed.

Rio de Janeiro — Brazilian novelist and journalist JP Cuenca took months to follow the fate of quarantine.

One afternoon in June, he advertised on radio and television stations owned by President Jail Borsonaro’s government, the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God, a Protestant sect that helped promote evangelical Christian allies, especially Brazil. I read an article about millions of dollars that posted. Political shift to the right.

“Brazilians are free only when the last Bolsonaro is strangled by the last minister’s internal organs in the Universal Church,” Quenca often quotes on Twitter about the fate that would fall on kings and priests. Riffed an 18th century quote. ..

He laid down his phone, brewed coffee, and continued his day. And that mission soon sacrificed his work in the German press, urging threats of murder and causing a chain of proceedings. At least 130 Universal Church ministers claiming “moral injury” have sued him in remote courts in a vast country.

Mr. Quenca is one of the latest targets of a kind of legal crusade that Brazilian ministers and politicians are increasingly betting on journalists and critics in a heavily polarized country. The accused or his attorney must then appear directly in each proceeding and run crazy throughout the country.

“Their strategy is to sue me in different parts of the country, so I need to protect myself in all these corners of Brazil, a continental country,” he said. “They want to instill fear in the critical voices of the future and drive me to ruin and madness. Kafka in the tropics.”

Defenders of press freedom say the number of proceedings against Cuenca is extraordinary, but the type of campaign he is facing is no longer the case.

“We see the judicial system as a means of blaming and interfering with journalists’ work,” said Leticia Climb, a legal expert at the Brazilian Association of Research Journalists.

She said the number of proceedings against journalists and the press seeking to remove content or compensate for damages for important press coverage increased especially during Mr. Bolsonaro’s presidency, which often insults and insults journalists.

“The stigmatized rhetoric motivated this practice,” she said. “Politicians portray journalists as enemies, and the foundations of their supporters behave in the same way.”

Cuenca said he didn’t consider his tweet particularly offensive given the situation in Brazil’s political discourse.

After all, the country is governed by a torture-supporting president, who once said it was too ugly to rape a female legislator, and he wants his son to die in an accident rather than being gay. Black, female and indigenous people in 2018.

Earlier this year, Bolsonaro blamed two reporters for inquiring about corruption cases against one of his sons. He told one person he had a “terrible gay face” and to another he wanted to break his face.

Mr Cuenca regarded his criticism as relatively noble. He said he despised the Universal Church, which has grown into a huge cross-border church since its inception in the 1970s.

“I was completely bored, distracted, procrastinated, and angry with politics,” Cuenca said. “I wrote a satire.”

The first sign of trouble was a wave of attacks that flowed into his social media account. Then he received a line of email from the editor of the German public broadcaster Deutsche Welle, where he wrote a regular column. “Did you really tweet Cuenca?” She asked.

He suggested writing a column explaining the history of citations — that version was attributed to French priest Jean Meslier, later to Diderot and Voltaire — and to comment on the Brazilian issue. Provides an example of a modern intellectual who uses variations.

However, the editor called the tweet “disgusting” and told Cuenca that his column had been cancelled. Deutsche Welle issued a statement about the decision, stating that it denied “incitement to hate speech or violence of any kind.”

Eduardo Bolsonaro, a member of parliament and one of the president’s sons, said in a Twitter message that he would celebrate Deutsche Welle’s decision and sue Cuenca.

In August, Cuenca was surprised to learn that the tweet led to an introduction to criminal charges. However, prosecutor Frederico de Carvalho Paiba, who processed the referral, wrote a decision that journalists have a constitutional right to criticize the president even for “rude and aggressive” words, Mr. Cuenca. Refused to prosecute.

“It’s freedom of expression and can’t be suppressed by ignorant people who can’t grasp the exaggeration,” the prosecutor wrote.

Cuenca searched the database of proceedings for his name and sought financial damages for the pain they attributed to the tweets in dozens of very similar proceedings by a minister of the Universal Church. I found the first one. They were submitted under a legal mechanism that required the defendant or legal representative to appear directly to defend.

Some ministers have found receptive judges, including those who Mr. Cuenca ordered to delete his entire Twitter account in the form of compensation. However, another judge ruled that the proceeding was futile and called it “almost abuse of legal proceedings.”

In a statement, the Universal Church stated that it played no role in the torrent of proceedings. “The Brazilian Constitution guarantees the right to seek justice for everyone, including evangelical ministers,” the church said. “Anyone who feels offended or despised can seek compensation from a court that decides who is right.”

The statement stated that the right to free speech in Brazil was “non-absolute” and that satire was not a defense against religious prejudice. “It should be remembered that the claim by writer João Paulo Cuenca caused denial among many Christians on social media.”

São Paulo’s attorney, Tais Gasparian, who defended several people in the face of similar explosions in nearly identical proceedings, said plaintiffs like the Universal Church made the judicial system available and affordable in 1990. Ordinary people who have stated that they are abusing legal mechanisms created in the 1980s.

In the types of proceedings filed against Mr. Cuenca, plaintiffs do not need to hire an attorney, but defendants who do not appear directly or dispatch attorneys often lose by default. Pastors of the Universal Church began a wave of similar proceedings after journalist Elvirarobat published an article in December 2007 documenting the connection between the church and tax haven-based companies.

The timing and significant similarities in the proceedings filed against Mr. Robat and Mr. Cuenca reveal that they were a copy-and-paste job, Gasparian said.

“It’s very cruel,” she said. “This is a threatening tactic in a country where traditional media faces major challenges.”

Paul Jose Aberino da Silva, one of the ministers who sued Mr. Cuenca, said he took action on his own initiative as the tweet offended him.

“As a Brazilian, I felt like I was excluded from my country,” said a minister living in Malagogi, a beach town in northeastern Alagoas. “I wouldn’t have complained if I had withdrawn what he wrote.”

Mr Cuenca said he hoped that this test would lead to a change in the judicial system that would prevent similar legal bulletins. And perhaps everything will be the subject of his next creative project.

“I’m thinking of making a movie,” he said. He imagines traveling to a remote town to meet the ministers who sued him and see what happens when they just sit face-to-face and exchange ideas in good faith. “I would like to talk to them and find out what we have in common.”

Lis Moriconi contributed to the report.

The Brazilian writer saw the tweet as a tame satire. Then a proceeding was filed.

Source link The Brazilian writer saw the tweet as a tame satire. Then a proceeding was filed.

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