Unlike his European counterparts, André Ventura - leader of the Portuguese far-right CHEGA - has not been all that shy on his goals and so far has already claimed such human rights violations such as physically castrating sex offenders, chopping off the hands of burglars and creating a new Portuguese Constitution that would implement a "dictatorship of the righteous". In the above picture his campaign slogan: "President of the Righteous Portuguese".
The (not so) invisible American hand
On April, 2019, CHEGA had just been freshly founded and amongst accusations of presenting over 2,600 fake signatures to the Constitutional Court, with under aged and even dead signatories that had to be replaced before the party could be legally registered to run for elections, the news were that the United States embassy in Lisbon had already summoned André Ventura for a meeting one month earlier, in March.
Ventura has also opposed Steve Bannon's prosecution claiming it was just a political witch-hunt that showed how the justice system can be influenced by politics, although so far no evidence has surfaced that Bannon's The Movement has funded CHEGA truth is that another American millionaire has done such: Caesar DePaço.
Caesar DePaço has been in the process of founding the DePaço Foundation and the cadre of the foundation includes several members of CHEGA, Mr. DePaço is the owner of Summit Nutritionals that claims average earnings of 3 million euros every year just in Portugal, enough to feed his philanthropy of donating half of it to USA's law enforcement, via patrol cars or K9 units training. The Executive Director of the Foundation is none other than José Lourenço, vice-president of CHEGA with ties to several boxing clubs in Oporto city, whose sportsmen act as André Ventura's bodyguards, and to Fernando Madureira, the leader of the ultra Super Dragões that was investigated under drug dealing charges back in 2015.
The best far-right money can buy
Unlike previous fringe far-right unsuccessful parties here in Portugal, CHEGA being born from top to bottom via professional politicians that made a career for themselves within the Social-Democrat Party (PSD, where André Ventura originates), the Democratic Center Party (CDS/PP) and even the Socialist Party (PS) had the benefit of being supported by many businessmen, evangelical churches and bankers, making it a perfect Deep State asset.
One of them and the one that stands out is the owner of SODARCA, the NATO certified leading seller of weaponry, technology and ammunition to the Portuguese police and military, João Maria Bravo. Bravo has contracts of nearly 33,3 million euros with the Portuguese government just in the last 5 years.
Other names worth mentioning are Miguel Félix da Costa (former Castrol Oil, currently SLIL real estate and tourism), Carlos Barbot (Barbot paints empire), Paulo Mirpuri (former Air Luxor, current Mirpuri Investment and Hi-Fly), João Pedro Gomes (BSGG law firm), Francisco Sá Nogueira (BES bank), Francisco Cruz Martins (BANIF and BES banks), Salvador Posser de Andrade (BES bank) and Jaime Nogueira Pinto (Geopolical Intelligence Services), and its own inhouse millionaire Diogo Pacheco de Amorim. This in addition to the above American millionaire Caesar DoPaço.
Mainstream news darling: André Ventura
Alongside mainstream politics, a minor interest of André Ventura before founding CHEGA in 2019, Ventura was already a very popular television star debating football matches on tabloid television and newspaper Correio da Manhã, here he took part on two weekly shows, one where he would debate with representants of rival football clubs late at night and one where, as a lawyer, he would comment violent real crime on morning television.
This made him very familiar with show business, on how to best manipulate club identity emotions - that he masterfully uses on his debates with political opponents and publish speeches - and also very familiar with the crime rates and which minorities trigger the most among the Portuguese audience.
None dare call it hate
So far the Portuguese far-right had wasted its rare occasional appearance on mainstream media to criticize the usual rubbish: Islamic invasion via refugees (even parading chopped pork heads in grounds set for the construction of a new mosque), connecting the crime rate to immigration, White replacement, whatever, the usual empty rhetoric that sounded as alien to the Portuguese voter as David Icke's theories. Keep in mind that the Portuguese quality of life hit such a low point that when the Portuguese government tried to offer asylum to refugees from the wars in the Middle East, those refugees declined and prefered to stay in a Greek concentration camp instead of coming to Portugal.
Ventura tried something different, as a member of local government in Loures and as a true crime commenter on television he played the Gipsy card: he understood that gipsies were universally unliked, had a very negative perception in the eyes of the average voter - that links them to crime, undeserved government welfare and positive discrimination when dealing with law enforcement. Portuguese don't view their prejudices against the Roma minority as racism but as self-defense, they are feared not hated, and that has been CHEGA's road to success.
The mainstream media also discovered that mentioning Ventura attracted tens of thousands of clicks, be if from his supporters or of the outraged mainstream left-wing and fringe Antifa types spending their days arguing and attacking his views. While other far-right parties like PNR (National Renovation Party) or PSN (National Solidarity Party) had been met with zero media space dealing with mostly left leaning journalists that chose to ignore them, more recently the news rooms in Portugal fired most veteran journalists and started employing content creators and interns fresh out of college, the main purpose of news bosses these days is to entertain and attract clicks and shares that turn into online ad revenues, and Ventura has been God sent: for the first time ever the far-right became a basic staple on the news.
Enter the Iranian opposition
This one was a surprise, it's on the public record that Iranian opposition gave 800,000€ to the Spanish far-right VOX, but so far in portugal that support had been directed to MEPs of the mainstream parties, but when André Ventura was debating with Ana Gomes, the former MEP of the Socialist Party also running in the presidential election, he made a point of linking her to the Iranian government. I decided to check what was behind that strange attack.
What I discovered was two media attacks by other CHEGA supporters, one of them by João Lemos Esteves on the right-wing weekly newspaper Nascer do Sol and by José Dias in the official website, both attacking the Iranian government and defending the Iranian opposition. So, why is CHEGA attacking who they view as enemies of the Iranian opposition? No idea, but keeping in mind what happened with VOX we can only speculate.
It becomes apparent that CHEGA and André Ventura have all the features of the traditional Deep State asset, plenty of space in mainstream media, heavy funding from American and Capitalist sources, the support of the military industrial complex and unlike its European counterparts Le Pen and Salvini it has been very vocal that his aim is indeed a new dictatorship and laws that violate human rights.
With most Portuguese confined at home and probably too scared to vote on January 24, the presidential elections, Ventura is set to have a huge proportion of the vote both because people don't care all that much with the presidential election - the President of Portugal holds close to zero political power - and there's a plague of Covid-19 denialism among the Portuguese far-right and even some sectors of the Conservative and Liberal rights, that makes them more likely to go out and vote and many are upset with how sympathetic the current right-wing president has been towards the Socialist Party governments. We will just have to wait and see.
Related reading: Why it took so long for Portugal to have a successful far-right?