John Lee Anderson, journalist: “If Bolsonaro wins in Brazil, the Amazon will be destroyed”

Bolsonaro is going to kill the Amazon. Putin leads an imperialist country allied with the world’s extreme right. Social networks are responsible for the rise of populism. Journalism should not be neutral and journalists should know well who pays us. John Lee Anderson (age 65), legendary American war reporter, author of the most documented biography of Che Guevara, editor of The New Yorker and prominent member of the Gabo Foundation, expresses in this interview his concerns about the world situation and his concerns. For the role that journalism plays in this new world, where the Internet and technology have become destabilizing forces that push democracies to the brink.

Yes, so it is. On the night of October 1, I was with Lula’s team and as the information came in, the unexpected strength of Bolsonaro’s forces was observed. His share of the vote was much higher than the polls had predicted. And most disheartening for Bolsonaro’s opponents was the realization that he has become a Trump-style phenomenon, that he is going to stay whether he wins the election or not, and that he is going to be a factor. polarization. The night ended with Lula very close to the absolute majority, but feeling defeated. Lula won, but not completely. His supporters were disillusioned and a little weak, while Bolsonaro’s supporters woke up with energy and hope.

Depending on who you talk to. Half of the analysts say that Lula will still win. But the question is, are they just optimistic or do they have data. Traditional polls are already too hard to trust. In Bolsonaro’s case, and as it happens with other populists around the world, people are not responding honestly to their voting intentions. They are embarrassed to say publicly that they are going to vote for Trump or Bolsonaro, but they do. And yes, there are many concerns. Every Brazilian I know, or journalist covering the election, is worried about a possible Bolsonaro victory. If this happens, Brazil will succumb to a kind of cretinous politics, polarization, fake news, haranguing, a kind of public discourse that is quite vulgar and separatist in the social sense. Additionally, Amazon is slated to boot. Scientists tell us that the tipping point is approaching, when the forest, due to its degradation, will stop absorbing carbon dioxide and start emitting it. Bolsonaro is a big threat. He wants to develop at any cost. Mining operations, intensive agriculture. He wants to exterminate the indigenous people. We know all this.

Lula has been criticized in some respects, but he has told the world that he intends to limit the destruction of the Amazon. that he is going to take action to save humanity and the nature reserve.

That’s right. Who would have imagined that such mediocre and in some cases such destructive people would come to power in democracies to destroy them from within. This is what is happening in the world. The only explanation is social networks. I believe that the Internet and social networks have become the greatest enemy of free and democratic societies. Politicians have learned how to deliver very blunt, simple, black-and-white messages that penetrate people’s souls.

It is an important question. Who was behind Julian Assange when he began hacking and leaking Hillary Clinton’s campaign documents that helped Donald Trump so much? According to the researchers of the world, it was the Russians, it was the KGB [actualmente FSB]. He denies it, but at the time he also denied that Chelsea Manning was his stooge at the Pentagon, the one who leaked the documents to him, which were well received and applauded by many journalists at the time. But over the years, one wonders what it was all about. Is hacking journalism? I think that over a period of time, many journalists, fascinated by networks, big data and their political leanings, put aside their ethical criteria and began to confuse hacking with journalism.

Julian Assange is not a journalist, he is a whistleblower. Edward Snowden is not a journalist either, he was a spy who leaked documents that said what you wanted to know, that proved your point of view. But where Snowden is, he is in Moscow. I talk about them because I think they are figures of a time when journalists were confused about what was hacking and what was information. Most people don’t know that some country, like Russia, can manipulate them.

We are in a time where we know that networks are toxic, that they are affecting all of us very negatively. We know that most of the new populists came to power through social networks. Bolsonaro didn’t campaign, it was him and four cats with Facebook Live. We all know what Trump did with Twitter. Bukele only works through Twitter. Twitter Ordinance. He tweets his security forces to arrest him. Last time I looked, his name on Twitter was Coolest Dictator in the World. There was a vulgarization of public space, as well as a lack of respect.

Yes, so it is. And that he used us. We can go further. There is another proof of what I said. The whole brutal phenomenon of ISIS was also an example of how evil actors can use social networks to terrorize through smartphones, to cut people’s throats in front of the camera, they have had a terrible effect on humanity, they have created a denial effect in the West. Exactly from the countries where terror was unleashed was the face of the arrival of refugees.

Many people in Latin America and Africa, because of history, still associate Russia with the Soviet Union and a kind of left-wing politics. When in reality there is nothing left. Russia is an imperialist country. Putin is allied with the far right in the United States as well as in Europe. Orbán is an extreme European rightist. Those who came to power in Italy express their love for Putin. They’re not from the left, they’re from the right and the extreme right who praise the past of fascism. Bolsonaro too. They are the ones who attack free journalists and who investigate the whole world about what they don’t want to know.

We are in a very dangerous limbo. A year ago, none of us thought about the possibility of nuclear war. now yes. And Vladimir Putin gives us this opportunity, not NATO expansion. Putin was very clever in shaping him and the enemies of the West. And free, democratic societies where the rule of law exists, however weak, they don’t have what Russia, which is a country weakened by war, has in escalating the war not only against Ukraine, but. Western precepts of democracy and freedom.

We don’t know how it will end. The world is in a very sad moment. I was recently in Ukraine and the situation is very twisted. A European country under the bombs of its neighbor to the east. No trigger, no excuse. The real reason is that Putin denies the existence of Ukraine as a country, as a distinct culture and people. And this is very dangerous, because on this path we easily reach genocide. When we see how the cities of Ukraine are falling apart, we see that the hatred was already in full swing. We see how civilians are suffering, tortured and shot in all the places that the Russian army has occupied. It’s scary. And it’s happening right now as we speak. And not in a distant country like Myanmar or Ethiopia.

This winter, the coming months, will be a very delicate period, with more war and a disturbing internationalization of the conflict. We know that the United States and its allies are trying to arm the Ukrainians to defend themselves. On the other hand, we know that the Iranians are helping Russia. In combat, Syrians are mercenaries and drone operators on the battlefield. There is already an internationalization of this conflict, which is beginning to become a conflict at the global level.

China is waiting. If they can avoid bloodshed or too much intervention in Ukraine, they will. They seem to have avoided going into Syria and Iraq and other costly conflicts for the West. While the West, I would say wrongly, engaged in long wars that lost them, spending a lot of money and lives, China turned inward, built 20,000 kilometers of high-speed rail, whole cities, strengthened its economy. We are now witnessing a very interesting time for China. Its leader Xi, strengthened in power, becomes the new dictator, the new Mao. With a very big cult of personality and a very militant and hostile attitude towards the West. Also clearly preparations for an invasion of Taiwan, with the possibility that, as we know from Biden’s position, the US will support its old ally and we will have another Ukraine-type conflict in Taiwan. The world is entering dangerous waters.

We have seen Xi talk about unity, brotherhood between two peoples. In practice, we have not seen him arming Russia, but buying its oil and gas. But there are also challenges with former Western allies such as Saudi Arabia or Turkey. We are in a world where there are many changes of transnational alliances and new powers. Russian oligarchs come out with billions and billions of dollars and these super yachts that travel the world. Also in the United States figures like Elon Musk, who recently bought Twitter and said he plans to return to Donald Trump’s network.

Over the years, several presidents, starting with Trump, have portrayed us journalists as enemies of the people. Now we know who our enemy is. Trump, Bolsonaro, Bukele, Vladimir Putin, people like that. We must be very clear, they attacked us because we are a dangerous, handful of people who investigate, investigate, condemn their human rights abuses, their war crimes, their theft from the public purse. That is, we are the power. But we have to be very clear about who are journalists and who are not. And for that it is very important to know where the money that helps us comes from.

I, for one, have a problem with Rupert Murdoch. I think he was too powerful an actor to have a toxic, anti-democratic influence on his role as a media mogul. This is why I don’t buy Rupert Murdoch’s newspaper. I don’t have the same problem with The New York Times. There are no saints in this world, but there are those who are closer to the devil than others. We have to be careful who pays us, we have to think carefully about who we appear with on radio or television. We must avoid whitewashing certain characters.

We need to be a little more militant about our own guild, about our survival. I no longer believe in neutral journalism. I was bought this when I was little. I remember working for Time magazine in Central America and having to be neutral in the face of the harsh reality that one side was closer to good than the other. I soon realized that the magazine was biased, and not exactly on the good side.

Source: El Diario

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