Categories
Draft

Did the NRA and a Boston Investment Firm Bankroll the Bolsonaro Campaign?

When we first learned that two of far-right Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro’s sons, Eduardo and Carlos, were connected to a shooting club called 88 Tactical in Omaha, Nebraska, we started digging deeper into this relationship.

We are a group of independent researchers trained in different fields of the humanities and social sciences and based in several countries. We are individuals with jobs in both public and private sectors. We are bringing to the surface some sensitive information that exposes potentially unlawful acts by Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro in conjunction with his sons Flavio, Carlos and Eduardo when they searched for U.S. partners and sponsors for the Brazilian general elections of 2018.

In October 2017, a year before the general elections in Brazil, Jair Bolsonaro and his sons searched for partners in the financial market in the United States. At the beginning of that year, his sons had met with NRA executives. Flavio wrote, “This morning we met with three major investment funds in Boston. Excellent meetings to show the market the real Bolsonaro, and not the monster that much of the media wants him to appear to be.”

We have gathered information about the president, his sons and some of their allies presented in their social media interactions since 2012, along with other records of their travel and business dealings. We have cross-referenced their social interactions, travel, and mutual events. We have combined and compared their social media posts with information publicized in media outlets mostly from Brazil and from the United States.

Our goal is to contribute to the fight against the rise of fascism evident in Jair Bolsonaro’s regime and Steve Bannon’s effort, “The Movement,” the South American arm of which is led by Jair’s son, Eduardo. We have produced articles in Portuguese and in English to raise awareness of the hidden relationship between Bolsonaro family and the American gun industry.

We aim to keep our identities anonymous because these dangerous people pose a real risk to some on our team. Jair Bolsonaro and his son Flavio are closely connected with militias from Rio de Janeiro. For instance, one of the executors of politician Marielle Franco used to be the neighbor of Jair Bolsonaro. Another example is that Flavio Bolsonaro used to hire relatives of militiamen to work in his cabinet when he was a member of the State Parliament in Rio de Janeiro.

We have concluded that at the end of 2015, Eduardo and Carlos Bolsonaro were introduced to the American far right and to the U.S. gun industry by 88 Tactical’s Brazilian employees Tony Eduardo and Yves Sousa and also by former MMA fighter Royce Gracie. Both Royce Gracie and Tony Eduardo have led programs to train self-defense techniques to police in the United States.

Tony and Royce have worked together since 2015 to support the 2018 presidential campaign of Jair Bolsonaro, which had been widely anticipated in Brazil since at least 2014. They also supported the re-election of Eduardo Bolsonaro for Congress and the election of Flavio Bolsonaro for Senate. Carlos Bolsonaro has been a councilman for the city of Rio de Janeiro since 2001. What brought them together was the desire to revoke the Brazilian Disarmament Statute that was enacted by president Lula da Silva in 2003. The Bolsonaros and their allies wanted to change Brazilian culture and gun control legislation to mimic the laxity of U.S. firearm laws and to facilitate the importation and sale of firearms to civilians.

Sponsored by Omaha’s 88 Tactical, Eduardo and Carlos Bolsonaro attended the Las Vegas Shot Show, the largest American annual event for firearm enthusiasts, in the years of 2016, 2017 and 2018. 88 Tactical employees, along with Royce Gracie, who has become a firearm promoter in the US (and also worldwide through his social media channels), introduced the Bolsonaro family to National Rifle Association (NRA) executives and to high-profile conservative politician Donald Trump Jr.

On January 19, 2017, at the Shot Show, Carlos Bolsonaro commented on Instagram that he and his brother Eduardo had been taken by Royce Gracie to a private meeting with NRA executives. In the photo at the Shot Show, they were alongside 88 Tactical employees Tony Eduardo and Yves Sousa, Royce Gracie, NRA Operations Director John Bailey, and NRA Chief Editor Edward Friedman.

Carlos Bolsonaro wrote that they had had an opportunity to discuss with the NRA the Brazilian “political and cultural situation” on gun control legislation. At the meeting they also criticized the monopoly of Brazilian gun manufacturer Taurus in the Brazilian restricted market. (See the comment section in the post).

In the bottom picture, from left to right: Carlos Bolsonaro, Eduardo Bolsonaro, NRA Operations Director John Bailey, Royce Gracie, 88 Tactical Vice President of International Business Yves de Sousa, NRA Chief Editor Edward Friedman and 88 Tactical Instructor Tony Eduardo. Carlos says in the highlighted comment that Royce introduced them to NRA executives.

Once back in Brazil in February of 2017 and apparently inspired by the NRA, Eduardo Bolsonaro organized a nationwide street protest from the cabinet of his father, Jair. Eduardo, Bolsonaro supporters, and gun proliferation activists marched against Brazil’s national gun control law (the Disarmament Statute). Eduardo also used his Instagram account to promote opening the Brazilian market for international gun manufacturers.

On February 16, 2017, Eduardo Bolsonaro called from his position in his father’s cabinet for his supporters to march against the Disarmament Statute.
On February 20, 2017, one month after meeting with NRA executives, Eduardo Bolsonaro and pro gun activist Bene Barbosa (top right) marched along with supporters against the Disarmament Statute in the streets of Sao Paulo.
On March 5, 2017, Eduardo Bolsonaro complained about Brazilian gun manufacturer Taurus and recommended opening the Brazilian market for imported guns.
On March 22, 2017, Eduardo Bolsonaro received his NRA membership card at his cabinet in the National Congress.

In October 2017, the entire Bolsonaro politician family traveled to the U.S. searching for a partnership for the following year’s presidential election campaign. They went to Florida, Washington, Boston and New York. They didn’t leave a trace in their social media accounts about who they had met with in Washington (they disclosed later in a New York meeting with supporters broadcasted via YouTube that they had been to Washington). Obviously, there is a feasible chance that they could have met again with NRA executives.

In Boston, in their quest for a partnership, they had a meeting at MFS Investment Management, whose executive chair is billionaire Robert Manning. Later, in March 2019, at the beginning of Bolsonaro presidency, the Boston mutual fund company signed an exclusive agreement with the Brazilian bank BTG Pactual, founded by Bolsonaro’s Minister of the Economy Paulo Guedes, opening up its multi-asset total return fund (Meridian Funds Prudent Capital Fund) to Brazilian investors.

In January 2018 at the Shot Show, Carlos and Eduardo Bolsonaro met again with NRA Operations Director John Bailey, alongside with Royce Gracie and 88 Tactical employees Tony Eduardo and Yves Sousa.

At the Shot Show on January 27, 2018, Carlos Bolsonaro excitedly commented “simply making contact with everyone”. He hashtagged the NRA. The photo is very similar to that one taken the year before – Royce Gracie is at the center of the crew, attached to NRA Operations Director John Bailey. The Bolsonaro brothers are on the right. The 88 Tactical employees are also in the photo (Tony Eduardo on the far left, Yves de Sousa third from the right).

In our previous article from December 2021, we listed some facts to reveal the connection between Eduardo Bolsonaro and the American gun industry. We explained that the Bolsonaro family liaised with the NRA in the same period of time that the American organization liaised with the Australian far-right party One Nation. From 2016 to 2018, the Al Jazeera investigation unit worked to reveal that the NRA discussed with the Australians ways to soften their gun control laws and introduced them to Koch Industries for financial support for their 2019 federal elections. We also discussed that, in the past, the NRA had liaised with pro-gun groups in Brazil to help them combat the Disarmament Statute referendum. We included a graph that demonstrated how the importation of guns skyrocketed in Brazil after the election of Jair Bolsonaro and his sons and how Eduardo Bolsonaro and Royce Gracie used their social media to promote the American gun manufacturer Sig Sauer. Eduardo Bolsonaro was accused of lobbying for the installation of a Sig Sauer manufacturer in Brazil.

The next general elections in Brazil will happen in October 2022 and we are very concerned with the future of the country. Overall, the government of Jair Bolsonaro has been a disaster for the majority of population. The way his government has dealt with Covid-19 pandemic has been catastrophic, resulting in the death of 620,000 citizens so far. Unemployment and hunger have escalated as Jair Bolsonaro has proven to be oblivious to the suffering of his people and incompetent to lead the largest economy of South America while he has flooded the country with imported weapons.

The probable interference of the NRA and the American gun industry in the democratic process of Brazil in 2018 must be denounced in order to avoid its reoccurrence in the country’s general elections of 2022, and moreover to help authorities from Brazil and from the United States to investigate Jair Bolsonaro, his sons and his allies.