Last week, Roberto Alvim, gave a speech in his capacity as Brazil's culture minister: backed by a Wagner aria, Alvim gave a speech about reforming Brazilian art that literally plagiarized the words of Joseph Goebbels, Hitler's minister of propaganda.
After a week of intense pressure, Jair Bolsonaro, the military strongman authoritarian who rules Brazil and has advocated for extrajudicial torture and murder, fired Alvim.
Journalist Glenn Greenwald, who lives in Brazil, offers some context for Alvim, who was once a respected theater director but became a far-right religious fanatic.
Greenwald points out that it's not a coincidence that a literal Nazi ended up in Bolsonaro's cabinet — nor is Alvim the only Nazi to be found there.
On social media, he has declared himself fighting a "cultural war" in favor of "conservative artists"; denounced one of Brazil's most beloved actresses, the 90-year-old Fernanda Montenegro, as a "dirty liar" for whom he harbors "contempt"; and attacked the Brazilian filmmaker Petra Costa, whose documentary "Edge of Democracy" was just nominated for an Academy Award, as a leftist propagandist disseminating lies.
Notably, Alvim was fired only after the embassies of Germany and, far more importantly to Bolsonaro, Israel issued condemnations containing harsh language rare for diplomatic communications. The Israeli Confederation of Brazil said: "Such a person cannot command the culture of our country and must be removed from office immediately." The German Embassy in Brazil said: "The period of National Socialism is the darkest chapter in German history, bringing infinite suffering to humanity….We oppose any attempt to trivialize or even glorify the era of National Socialism." The center-right presidents of the Brazilian Senate and House also demanded Alvim's firing, leaving Bolsonaro with little choice. When announcing the firing, Bolsonaro called the speech "an unfortunate pronouncement."