Only a couple of days ago one of the most famous banks in Brazil (Banco Do Brasil) launched a new commercial that featured diversity as its main purpose, as an attempt to connect with the younger part of the population. The advertisement only lasted a few moments, though, before Brasil’s president interfered, taking it down because it was not according to his “line of work” and that “we do not want public money to be used in that way”.
After Jair Bolsonaro made his demand he talked with the president of Banco Do Brasil, Rubem Novaes, demanding that he not only take down the propaganda but also that he remove Banco do Brasil’s director of marketing, Delano Valentim. Rubem Novaes, on the other hand, said that “The president and he had agreed that the film should be taken down and that the “exit of the director was in a consensual decision, including with the acceptance of Valentim himself”.
Furthermore, on April 27th BBC news got a chance to talk to Rubens again, who said that “During decades, Brazilian leftist groups unleashed a cultural war attempting to confront the poor and the rich, black and white people, women and men, homo and heterosexual people, etc, etc. The ’empowerment’ of minorities was the instrument activated in many cultural manifestations: soap operas, movies, art exhibitions, etc, where they looked to characterize the ‘normal’ citizen as the exception and the exception as the rule”.
As if all of that weren’t enough, the secretary of Publicity and Promotion, Glen Lopes Valente, emailed Brazilian companies determining that their advertisement would have to be submitted to the Secretary Of Social Communication before being released. The problem with that is that the interference of government on the content of commercials of Estatal companies is illegal because it conflicts with the Law of Estatal Companies. Bolsonaro’s wishes then are revolved in a whole other spectrum, since besides being unethical and immoral they are also technically and formally illegal.
The president persists to affirm that he will control the advertisements of these companies even though he legally can’t. It is no surprise though considering that since the beginning of the year Bolsonaro has attempted and accomplished (in some cases) the censorship of government campaigns and primers of topics regarding sexuality and diversity, like when in January of this year a primer directed to trans men was taken from the website of the Health Ministry.
It is also very worrying that the events that are happening today in Brazil are not so distant reminders of the censorship era during 1964’s military coup. Especially because Bolsonaro is openly an admirer of Carlos Alberto Brilhante Ustra (a well know torturer during Brazil’s dictatorship) and the regime itself, saying that it had “minor issues”. The feeling that the country is going from bad to worse is tangible on the corner of every street and Brazilians are left only wondering what could possibly come next.
Photo credit: Antonella Beccaria