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Brazil court lets Black movement critic remain at helm of Black culture

by Fabio Teixeira | @ffctt | Thomson Reuters Foundation
Wednesday, 5 August 2020 21:47 GMT

People hold placards as they protest against racism during a demonstration against Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro and in support of democracy in Sao Paulo, Brazil June 7, 2020. Placards read: "Stop killing us" and "Black lives matter". REUTERS/Amanda Perobelli

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Court rejects argument that critic of Black Lives Matter should not run Fundaçao Cultural Palmares, an agency mandated to protect the cultural and economic rights of Brazilians descended from slaves

By Fabio Teixeira

RIO DE JANEIRO, Aug 5 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - A public official who said he opposes the Black Lives Matter movement will be allowed to remain as head of Brazil's government-funded institute of Black culture, a high court voted on Wednesday.

The unanimous decision by the Superior Court of Justice rejected an appeal by public defenders who argued Sergio Camargo had no legitimacy to run Fundaçao Cultural Palmares, an agency mandated to protect the cultural and economic rights of Brazilians descended from slaves.

The judges agreed that the government's executive branch has discretionary power to decide who it chooses for jobs in the administration and that courts should not interfere in the process.

Camargo, a Black journalist, was appointed as president of the Fundaçao Cultural Palmares last year by Brazil's right-wing President Jair Bolsonaro.

Camargo was contentious from the start, making comments that racism did not exist in Brazil and, in a leaked recording, calling the anti-racism movement "scum".

The ruling may impact Brazil's quilombolas, descendants of African slaves who live in rural communities around the country.

They worry that, with Camargo on the job, he can block their efforts to secure rights to land they have inhabited for generations - something Bolsonaro has repeatedly said he wants to prevent.

Fundaçao Palmares did not immediately reply to a request for comment.

"Great day!" Camargo posted on Twitter after the ruling.

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(Reporting by Fabio Teixeira @ffctt; Editing by Ellen Wulfhorst. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers the lives of people around the world who struggle to live freely or fairly. Visit http://news.trust.org)

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