King’s College London’s Brazil Institute shamelessly whitewashes the incompetent and corrupt oligarchy in Northeastern Brazil

Invitation to João Campos talk at King’s College London’s Brazil Institute shamelessly whitewashes the incompetent and corrupt oligarchy in Northeastern Brazil, no mention of their catastrophic record.

This is how the prestigious institute, led by respected professor Anthony W. Pereira, whitewashes the oligarchy of Pernambuco: “He has participated in political campaigns in 2006, 2010, 2012 and 2016. In recognition of his political activities, in 2014 he was elected secretary of the board of the PSB committee in Pernambuco. Due to his experience in political campaigns and his active engagement in the local party, he was invited by the governor of Pernambuco to the role of Chief of Staff” (Campaign experience consists of the 12-year-old boy rooting for his father; and the support of a 16-year-old boy for his father’s re-election campaign in 2010).

It reads like a press release rather than a notice for a debate in an academic environment, where, at least in theory, questioning and critical thinking should prevail.

The London public will remain ignorant of the fact that the young João Campos belongs to a family oligarchy that has been controlling the state’s politics since 2006. During this time, the United Nations Development Program’s (UNDP) Human Development Index (HDI) for the year 2010 shows a decline in the state’s position compared to 2000; “The average number of households living below the poverty line is 48% and the illiteracy rate reaches a quarter of the population over 15 years of age”; violations of human rights of children and adolescents in the state’s socio-educational system; the environmental fiasco illustrated by the Suape port; numerous cases of corruption, too many to enumerate, which also includes Suape, the Arena Pernambuco soccer stadium, reaching even the governor’s office; violence has skyrocketed, with an average of 16 homicides per day in 2017, rising almost 40% since 2014; and the repression against dissident movements has intensified.

The young man’s family is part of a government coalition that controls the three spheres of power, the media is tame and highly concentrated in the hands of a few family business conglomerates, and leads a government totally subservient to the interests of the state’s big business.

As if all of this were not enough, they also have the support of King’s College London. If you believe in this whitewashed version presented by the English university, João Campos suddenly became a civil engineering genius, and is a wunderkind who, thanks to his hard work has been rising the levels of power in his home state. What a bad joke. Perhaps the British organizers think it is normal for someone to amass wealth and power only because of the surname, because they have monarchy … but Brazil, at least in thesis, is a republic!

Or perhaps it is a British tradition to ingratiate with third world oligarchs — in 2011 the then rector of the LSE resigned when it surfaced that Gaddafi’s son Saif had donated a million and a half pounds, on top of a multi-million pound contract in which the LSE would train Libyan civil servants. It raises the question: how much did it cost the Pernambuco public coffers for the University of London to ingratiate itself with the young oligarch?

It is unfortunate that a serious institution lends itself to the role of polishing the opaque biography of a young member of Pernambuco’s oligarchy, who is only in the position he occupies because of the of his influential family’s cronyism.

Research Associate & PhD candidate at Freie Universität Berlin’s Governance in Areas of Limited Statehood

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