João Santana: Svengali for the wicked (Updated)

The Manchurian consultant

This Foreign Policy post on João Santana was pretty interesting. Santana is one of the more succesful of a cadre of Brazilian political consultants changing the landscapes of many countries … and in Santana’s case, for the worst.

Whether it’s doing his best to re-elect “the heart of the fatherland” (yes, it’s his motto) or guiding Angolan dictator Dos Santos to victory (he’s been in power since 1979), Santana is clearly doing his best to make your world a more rotten place. But hey, a guy’s gotta make a living, right?

I guess it takes talent to win elections like that. It also helps to be on the side of the guy who has unlimited campaign funds and commands the airwaves in a disproportionate manner, something author Mac Margolis neglected to mention in his fawning article.

Assim, todo mundo é um gênio!

UPDATE: Reader John Barnard takes me to task for not quoting Margolis saying “Sure, the Venezuelan clown prince was already a political legend, and his heavy-handed use of electoral resources — such as his near-unchallenged domination of the media and the judiciary and the looting of the state treasury to finance handouts to voters — didn’t hurt.” In spite of this phrase, Margolis downplays the role of public funding and seems to place the difference in the election squarely in Mr. Santana’s lap.