RIO DE JANEIRO, RJ (FOLHAPRESS) – The Minister of Tourism, Daniela Carneiro (União Brasil), a political ally of militiamen in Rio de Janeiro, does not have a behavior that deviates from the pattern of Baixada Fluminense, her electoral base.
This assessment is made by political scientist Mayra Aguiar, coordinator of the Laboratory of Parties, Elections and Comparative Police at UFRRJ (Federal Rural University of Rio de Janeiro), who studies political relations in the region.
“It is very difficult to have a mayor of a city in the Baixada Fluminense who does not have relations with the militia and with other, in quotes, leaders of that territory. The mayor is not someone who can act purely as a denouncer. territory,” says Mayra.
Daniela campaigned alongside at least three accused of leading militias in Belford Roxo, as well as relatives of another. They were also appointed to positions in the city hall, commanded by Wagner Carneiro, Waguinho (União Brasil).
Aguiar claims that Daniela’s appointment and maintenance in the Lula government’s ministry is due to the PT’s interest in getting closer to territories that are still far from the left field.
“Waguinho didn’t exactly give Lula a lot of votes. [Um ministério] it is not a retribution in the same measure, if we look at the past. But, if we look to the future, there is a national government that needs, in the election two years from now, to support its government with local political support.”
QUESTION – What is the political scenario of Baixada Fluminense involving militias or other criminal groups?
MAYRA AGUIAR – In Baixada Fluminense, as well as in other areas of Rio de Janeiro, organized crime plays a preponderant role, not only in episodic violence, but also in everyday life.
It is very difficult to have a mayor of a city in the Baixada Fluminense who does not have relations with the militia and with other, in quotes, leaders of that territory. The mayor is not someone who can act purely as a denouncer. He needs to have a daily performance in that territory. So he needs to find ways to build relationships that aren’t a lone crusade against certain groups.
Q. – He needs it to manage the city. But isn’t it possible to run away from electoral political alliances with these groups?
MA – Nothing is impossible. But, in our research, there is not a very deviant performance of a certain pattern of cultivating a local policy. It is a local policy not ideologically oriented.
It does not mean that these people do not have their ideologies, which are generally more conservative. But their political performance does not have this dimension of public opinion as decisive as it does, for example, in our deviant cases, like Lindbergh [Farias], [ex-prefeito] in Nova Iguacu.
Q. – Doesn’t this end up perpetuating the scenario of strengthening political leaders linked to crime?
MA – Yes. I’m not naturalizing this by saying that this is the perfect framework, the right way to do politics. I’m saying they are not deviant cases.
Q. – Shouldn’t politicians in these places be charged to try to change this dynamic?
MA – Yes, of course. They must be charged and held accountable. There are two discursive planes. One thing is how things are, and another how they should be.
When I say that this type of local politics includes a not so willing relationship with, in quotes, leaders who commit illegalities, this is neither good nor desirable. That’s how things are.
The problem is that denunciation should not take precedence over descriptive capacity. Denouncing that Daniela has contact with the militia cannot block our view that mayors of the Baixada Fluminense have relations with the militia. The only difference between Daniela and Waguinho and other mayors is their current proximity to a left-wing party.
Q. – In the case of the minister, what is her political responsibility?
MA – My research tries to understand what it is about this local political dynamic that, in some way, makes it difficult for the left to build these relationships.
One of the things that stands out is a certain emphasis on left-wing politicians in concentrating their energies on an ideological discussion of public opinion, while politicians more to the right or center-right, or from the center, are committed to playing this game of local politics.
Bombing the only nominee in the ministry who comes from Rio de Janeiro and who comes from this place of doing politics, which permeates the territory, is symbolic.
Waguinho didn’t exactly vote for Lula. [Um ministério] it is not a retribution in the same measure if we look at the past. But if we look to the future, we have a national government that needs, in the election two years from now, to support its government with local political support.
Stringing together the support of a mayor in a territory that has no tradition of proximity to the center-left field is important for the PT. This is how I understand the delivery of the ministry to Daniela Carneiro. Not so much for the 6,000 votes that Waguinho gave him, but for the construction of the next platforms.
Q. – What does it mean to take the links it carries, including criminal groups, to the federal government?
MA – No practical impact.
Q. – Can’t these groups feel empowered by the fact that an ally is in the ministry?
MA – One of those accused of leading a militia that supported her spoke of pride in seeing her in office. I think it’s a very long jump for a type of power that has a very immediate return. It is income that comes from controlling violence in a local territory. This business works great for them needing those shots so far away.
What I see is a certain difficulty for public opinion, in general, to move away from a more elitist spectrum of politicians, which circulates in this environment of public opinion, and deal with another type of politician who is more in the field of the popular classes.
When you maintain a principled discourse aimed at public opinion, you exclude territories whose policy is not determined based on this type of content. With this you exclude those citizens who do not see themselves represented in national politics.
Q. – In this way, isn’t what is called clientelism and a situation of crime, of territory control, being put on the same level?
MA – What is illegal needs to be fought, needs to be condemned, even for us not to put everything on the same level. A local policy of direct assistance to the population does not mean the same thing as controlling a territory with violence. What the militia does is not politics. She uses violence to extort population.
What I am simply saying is that Daniela’s relationship with organized crime is probably no greater than if we were to consider other relationships between politicians in the Northeast and a type of extractivism, agribusiness mixed with criminality and violence.
In Rio de Janeiro, as we are a showcase of Brazil, these relationships are very exposed.
My point is that Daniela is not an exception. But she’s looking pretty why? Because what is an exception is the relationship of the PT, and of any type of leftist party, with these territories and, therefore, with this population.
Q. – Is it a suitable alliance?
MA – Can’t you give the wrong signal in these regions that allies of criminal groups are strong? This type of principled political conduct has difficulty getting closer to the citizen, it will remain in the public opinion.
I think it’s important to differentiate the nomination of a minister who had a militiaman as a political ally from a president who gave speeches in plenary saying that the militia is a positive thing. It is necessary to differentiate this leap.
Q. – But, due to this position of the former president, should we normalize these links?
MA – If she commits a crime, she has to be indicted, she has to be punished. But the prior conviction of someone who is so far innocent leads to a kind of witch hunt that favors the ascension of people who do not have political backgrounds. It’s this new policy thing that turned out very badly. In Rio de Janeiro, for example, it resulted in the [Wilson] Witzel.
Q. – She has been trying to disassociate herself from the appointments of militia members made by Waguinho in City Hall. Is it possible to make this separation?
MA – Of course not.
Mayra Aguiar Coordinator of the Laboratory of Parties, Elections and Comparative Police at UFRRJ (Federal Rural University of Rio de Janeiro). Master and PhD in political science from Iesp (Institute of Social and Political Studies) at Uerj, she is a professor of political science at UFRJ and at the Graduate Program in Social Sciences at UFRRJ.