Explaining Brazil #56: Why is the Brazilian government spying on Catholic priests?

This episode, Why is the Brazilian government spying on Catholic priests?, is supported by Fast Help. Fast Help is a Brasília-based IT company that is focused on cybersecurity. Protect your business by teaming up with Fast Help. Go to fasthelp.com.br for more information on how to protect your company’s virtual space.

When the Catholic Church decided on its theme for this year’s Synod of Bishops, not many people batted an eyelid. The Catholic Church’s efforts to protect the natural biodiversity of the Amazon and the indigenous people living there are more or less universally accepted as something positive, at the very least something harmless—but try telling that to the Brazilian government. The relationship between indigenous populations, the Brazilian Army, and the Catholic Church, dates back over 100 years and has often been fraught and in some cases, bloody. The election of Jair Bolsonaro and the increasing influence of the military on the Amazon region has brought confrontations back to life.

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On this episode:

  • Rubens Valente is an award-winning journalist for Folha de S.Paulo. He has reported from over 30 indigenous lands since the 1990s. The is the author of the novel The Rifles and the Arrows, a superb account of the struggles of indigenous tribes during Brazil’s military dictatorship.
  • Mauricio Savarese is a correspondent for the Associated Press. He recently reported on land disputes in indigenous lands.
  • Paula Schmitt is an award-winning journalist, former correspondent for Radio France and SBT TV, author of the novel Eudemonia and the non-fiction book Spies.
  • Alex Hochuli (voice-over for Rubens Valente) is a writer and researcher. He also hosts Aufhebunga Bunga, a global politics podcast “at the end of the End of History.”

Background reading:

Explaining Brazil is made by:

  • Gustavo Ribeiro, editor in chief of The Brazilian Report. He has extensive experience covering Brazilian politics. His work has been featured across Brazilian and French media outlets, including Veja, Época, Folha de São Paulo, Médiapart and Radio France Internationale.
  • Maria Martha Bruno, producer. She is a journalist with 14 years of experience in politics, arts, and breaking news. She has collaborated with Al Jazeera, NBC, and CNN, among others, and worked as an international correspondent in Buenos Aires.
  • Euan Marshall, editing. is a journalist and translator who has lived in São Paulo, Brazil since 2011. Specializing in Brazilian soccer, politics and the connection between the two, his work has been published in The Telegraph, Al Jazeera, The Independent, among others.

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