“CPF cancelled”, the expression published by President Jair Bolsonaro in a photo taken in April during a visit to Manaus (AM), took over the right-wing social networks as soon as the death of Lázaro Barbosa, the “serial killer of the Federal District” was announced.
The immediate reaction revived the discourse on fighting crime among the pocketnaristas, which was a little on the down side amidst the enormity of the deaths from the pandemic.
And it also served to give new energy to a right that did not miss the opportunity to go after human rights defenders, always identified more with the progressive camp.
The president himself celebrated the outcome of the action. In addition to mentioning the expression, he congratulated the Goiás police and said that Lázaro is “one less person to frighten the good families”. As was more than expected, he made no remark about the action that resulted in the death.
“Canceladíssimo”, wrote Bernardo Kuster, editor of the newspaper Brasil Sem Medo, linked to the philosopher Olavo de Carvalho.
The same expression was used by Paulo Lisboa, one of the most active YouTubers who support Bolsonaro.
“CPF cancelled” is slang used by the police when killing a suspect. It is also often used by militiamen, which only increased criticism of Bolsonaro for having used it, after participating in the show hosted by Sikêra Júnior, on Rede TV!, one of his biggest supporters.
The president’s sons joined the chorus. Federal Deputy Eduardo Bolsonaro (PSL-SP) took advantage of the case to try to push forward changes in legislation that would tighten punishments for criminals. Among the main ones are changes in custody hearings, seen by the right merely as opportunities to “release bad guys”.
His brother, Councilor Carlos Bolsonaro (Republicanos-RJ), said that “the press and other sectors have already turned the guy into an angel. I think I’ve seen this movie before!”.
Other conservative influencers followed the signal given by Carlos and began to mock an alleged attempt by the left to minimize the crimes committed by Lázaro.
“Now all that remains is canonization, beatification and sanctification…”, said one. “On Fátima Bernardes, a program about the difficult childhood of this oppressed society”, added another.
Praise for the police action had the power to unite the right-handed camp, including the portion that is now opposed to Bolsonaro. This was the case of the MBL (Movimento Brasil Livre), despite having used more sober language and without the triumphalism of the Pocketinarians.
One of the group’s exponents, state deputy Arthur do Val (Patriot), also defended that Lázaro’s death is an opportunity for changes in the law.
In recent years, the drop in the number of homicides has somewhat diminished the electoral impact of the issue of public safety. In next year’s election, that is likely to be further diluted by Covid and the economic situation, the one-two that will surely dominate the campaign.
But the Lázaro case shows that the issue still has the potential to animate and even unify the right, and that it will continue to be an important electoral weapon against candidates from the left and center.