For casual observers of South America, it may be difficult to understand the current political trend that has ushered in right and center-right governments across the continent, sweeping out leaders of the much-ballyhooed “Pink Tide” that looked so ascendant so recently. This phenomenon is undoubtedly greatly based in a visceral reaction to the corruption, kleptocracy, and atrociously bad public policy ushered in by a generation of leftist leaders: Hugo Chavez and Nicolas Maduro in Venezuela, Cristina Kirchner in Argentina, and Lula da Silva and Dilma Rousseff were undoubtedly the worst offenders.
Lula sits in a jail cell now serving a twelve year sentence for corruption, but still awaiting a slew of charges. For those who think that the malfeasance of the Venezuelan Communists, and the Argentine Peronists was more egregious than that of the Workers Party in Brazil, they should reconsider those sentiments.
Lula and Dilma were simply more palatable to the international political and economic establishment and avoided the kind of mind-numbing fundamental misunderstanding of economic matters that long made the Chavez/Maduro tandem look like clowns on the world stage. Lula presided over economic growth and rode a wave of commodities income to a prosperous decade, while promising the international community that he would honor Brazil’s debts.
He was also an ideological extremist who allowed his socialist ideology to corrupt and pollute his better judgment. The case of Communist Italian terrorist Cesare Battisti is a perfect example of this.
Battisti killed four innocent people during the course of politically-motivated robberies and murders, including an incident that left a 14 year old boy paralyzed as he watched his father die before his eyes. As a member of the Armed Proletarians for Communism, he oversaw a reign of terror, and was convicted for his heinous crimes, but fled the clutches of Italian justice and ended up in Brazil.
Despite furious protestations from Italy, the Brazilian Minister of Justice Tarso Genro granted him political refugee status and allowed him to remain in Brazil. Lula da Silva supported this decision, upholding Battisti’s status on his last day in office, a decision that was continued by his predecessor Dilma Rousseff.
For years the Workers Party in Brazil offered safe haven to an Italian Communist terrorist who murdered 4 innocent people. Those days are over. No more will criminals roam Brazil with impunity, in the wake of the election of right-wing Jair Bolsonaro.
With the regime change in Brazil, Battisti quickly saw the writing on the wall, and tried to hide. He fled to the eastern Bolivian city of Santa Cruz, where he was apprehended this weekend in an international police operation. Bolivia’s authoritarian president Evo Morales, to his credit, did not seek to extend this political refugee status to Battisti, who arrived in Rome today, where he will begin serving a life sentence.
Justice delayed is justice denied, but at the very least, this will give some small closure to the family’s of Battisti’s victims.
To Bolsonaro’s multitude of international critics, they would do well to ask themselves a question. Why is it that the Workers Party allowed this vile terrorist, thief, and murderer, free reign of the Brazilian nation for well over a decade? And…why is it that now, merely two weeks into Bolsonaro’s tenure, Battisti is already back in Italy to serve justice?
Ideological bias can lead to poor decision making. Lula and his kleptomaniacs were perfectly happy to bear the brunt of the Italian diplomatic corps’ displeasure in order to aid and abet a truly vile human being; but a human being who shared the socialist worldview of Lula and Dilma.
The Battisti decision will truly go down in history as one of the darkest chapters in the sordid legacy of the Workers Party. Say what you will about Bolsonaro, but at least he did not extend political refugee status to a terrorist murderer.