Nazi Leader Paraphrasing Costs Brazil Culture Secretary His Job

(Bloomberg) -- Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro fired the country's culture secretary after he paraphrased notorious Nazi politician Joseph Goebbels in a video that stirred outrage in the nation.

Roberto Alvim said that Brazilian art over the next decade will be "heroic" or "it will be nothing," similarly to remarks made by Goebbels decades ago, according to a video posted on social networks early on Friday. Within hours, the term "Goebbels" became one of the top trending topics on Twitter in Brazil, and lawmakers including Senate President Davi Alcolumbre, who is Jewish, called for Alvim's immediate removal.

Music by Richard Wagner, who was Hitler's favorite composer, plays in the background of the video posted by the culture secretary. An official photo of Bolsonaro looms over him, while a cross and a Brazilian flag can also be seen.

In a subsequent interview with a local radio station, Alvim denied that he was a Nazi and said he was unaware that he had copied part of a speech made by Goebbels. "It was an unfortunate rhetorical coincidence," he said. Alvim also said in a post on his Facebook page that "there is nothing wrong with the sentence."

In a statement dismissing Alvim, Bolsonaro said that "unfortunate" remarks made it impossible for the secretary to remain in the job. "I reiterate our repudiation of totalitarian and genocidal ideologies," Bolsonaro said in the statement. "We also express our total and unrestricted support to the Jewish community."

The remarks represent the latest source of public uproar under the administration of President Jair Bolsonaro, who rose to the nation's top job in part due to his non-conventional views. Bolsonaro has maintained a loyal support base, many of whom criticize the political left for being overly sensitive.

Read More: Oscar-Nominated Netflix Film Is Slammed by Brazil's Bolsonaro

While lacking status as a ministry, Brazil's culture secretary oversees the nation's culture and entertainment and provides millions of reais in financing to projects in those areas. In the local radio interview later Friday, Alvim said that he had explained the misunderstanding to Bolsonaro, and that his explanation was accepted by the president.

Hitler Confidant

Goebbels was a government minister and close confidant of Adolf Hitler. He was known for his virulent antisemitism and calls for extermination of Jewish people, as well as for his strong oratory skills.

Alvim's remarks are unacceptable, according to a statement from Brazil's Israeli confederation, known as Conib. "A person with those thoughts should not command the culture of our country and should be removed from the post immediately," the statement said.

In recent months, Bolsonaro has drawn international scrutiny by suggesting that NGOs were to blame for Amazon rainforest fires and making sarcastic comments about the wife of French President Emmanuel Macron. Before assuming the presidency, he downplayed Brazil's history of slavery and made offensive comments against groups including women.

(Updats with firing of Brazil's top culture official)

To contact the reporter on this story: Simone Iglesias in Brasília at

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Walter Brandimarte at, ;Juan Pablo Spinetto at, Matthew Malinowski

For more articles like this, please visit us at

Subscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.


More Related News

China's Sinovac eyes coronavirus vaccine distribution in South America
  • US
  • 2020-09-24 09:53:47Z

China's Sinovac Biotech hopes to supply its experimental coronavirus vaccine to more South American countries by outsourcing some manufacturing procedures to a partner in Brazil, its chief executive said on Thursday. Global vaccine makers, such as Sinovac and AstraZeneca, have partnered with Brazil to conduct late-stage trials of their vaccine candidates in South America's largest nation, battling with the third highest tally of infections worldwide.

Volkswagen to compensate victims of Brazil dictatorship - report
Volkswagen to compensate victims of Brazil dictatorship - report

German carmaker Volkswagen will pay about 36 million reais ($6.5 million) in compensation to more than 60 former employees who were persecuted during Brazil's 1964-1985 military dictatorship, media reported on Wednesday. Volkswagen is due to sign the settlement deal in Sao Paulo on Thursday, according to a report by German broadcasters NDR, SWR and the daily Sueddeutsche Zeitung. Volkswagen was not immediately available to comment.

Brazil's meat giant JBS launches anti-deforestation plan

The world's biggest meat processing company, Brazil's JBS, announced a plan Wednesday to ensure by 2025 that cows it purchases are not raised on deforested land, after facing accusations of fueling destruction of the Amazon.

Brazil adds some to force fighting vast wetlands blazes
Brazil adds some to force fighting vast wetlands blazes
  • World
  • 2020-09-23 18:26:17Z

Brazil's government on Wednesday said it was adding 43 more firefighters to a small force battling blazes that have charred a Belgium-sized swath of the world's largest tropical wetlands. President Jair Bolsonaro addressed the United Nations this week to fend off criticism of his country's efforts in the Pantanal region as well as the Amazon rainforest to the north - both considered crucial and diverse environments. Satellite images analyzed by the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro indicate this season's fires in the drought-parched Pantanal have covered 3.1 million hectares (nearly 12,000 square miles) - an area the size of Belgium or the U.S. state of Maryland and about a fifth of...

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked with *

Cancel reply


Top News: Europe