Portugal’s far-right: what is Ventura’s party made of?
Evangelical cults, luxury real estate and fake accounts
by Fabian Figueiredo
After the US and Brazil, the evangelical lobby is seeking to enter Portuguese politics through CHEGA, the far-right party founded in 2019 by André Ventura. CHEGA translates as Enough! Leaders of these cults have urged their followers to vote for André Ventura but the intervention doesn’t end there. According to VISÃO magazine, CHEGA has over twenty thousand fake accounts on social networks.
The behind-the-scenes story of CHEGA, published in VISÃO, connects the party and its leader – Ventura – to the leaderships of neo-pentecostal evangelical cults in Portugal. This phenomenon is not new. Trump and Bolsonaro have built their electoral platforms with tight relationships with religious fanatics.
Donizete Rodrigues, professor at the Universidade da Beira Interior and specialist in this issue, was quoted by the journalist Miguel Carvalho as revealing that the activity of the evangelical churches in Lisbon has increased significantly since CHEGA’s creation. The professor also states that several pastors have even called on their followers to vote for CHEGA during mass.
As Donziete Rodrigues further explains, these evangelical communities seek to enter the realm of politics in order to secure power, economic gains, fiscal advantages for their churches and government subsidies.
The professor also states that these evangelical groups are increasing their funding of CHEGA’s activities. “CHEGA is part of the scheme”, Rodrigues asserts.
Thousands of fake profiles serving online hate speech
According to an expert on digital strategy, consulting and tracking, CHEGA has over twenty thousand fake accounts on social networks. This information partly explains why the party’s content has so many “likes”, “views” and “shares”. This mechanism is also used to spread fake news and to attack the party’s political opponents.
The man in charge of CHEGA’s online activity is Gerardo Pedro – owner of a company called Kriamos, which has connections to the Angolan company Alcian Soluções (known to be close to MPLA).
Real estate lobby in CHEGA
According to VISÃO’s story, several of CHEGA’s political leaders are professionally connected to the real estate business, particularly the luxury sector. Diogo Pacheco de Amorim – vice-president, ideologue of the party and Ventura’s replacement in Parliament during the presidential elections – is one of them. Ricardo Regalla – CHEGA’s communication director – is also a consultant in a real estate company that operates mainly in Lisbon, Sintra and Cascais.
According to VISÃO, Regalla is known for organizing expensive divorce parties and has led several bullfighting associations, having defended the construction of an arena in Cascais.
André Ventura himself has also been connected to the consulting business. Up until June, he has worked as a consultant for Finpartner that intervenes mainly in the real estate business, fiscal planning and Golden Visa business.
Who are the Masters of Portugal that support André Ventura?
From the BES bank universe to the BANIF financial group. From the armament industry to aviation. From real estate to law firms. Powerful interests have sat down with the leader of the Portuguese far right. According to VISÃO, several powerful businessmen have admitted to financing CHEGA.
On the 18th of June, in a luxurious farm on the outskirts of Lisbon, several powerful businessmen sat down with André Ventura and his VP Diogo Pacheco de Amorim. Their availability to help André Ventura and satisfy his political needs was on the menu. The main dish was, obviously, the funding of CHEGA’s political activity.
The organization of this lunch was the responsibility of João Maria Bravo. He is the owner of Sodarca, which has several million euro contracts for arms supplies to the Portuguese armed forces, as well as Helibravo aviation, that has invoiced millions of euros to the fire fighting industry. This man is known to be a far-right enthusiast and has never hidden from controversial political stances: he thinks Portugal has been sinking since the arrival of democracy.
This armaments millionaire has told the journalist Miguel Carvalho that he will do everything in his power to lend the necessary financial support to CHEGA. He has also stated that he will use his connections to help the rise of André Ventura’s party.
Miguel Félix da Costa was also one of the participants of this lunch. His family has represented the brand Castrol in Portugal. He is currently the strongman of Slil – a holding that manages financial participations in tourism, agriculture and horse breeding. This businessman has not hidden his sympathies with Donald Trump and marched alongside Ventura on his most recent far-right demonstration.
Carlos Barbot, the owner of the Barbot paint empire, and Paulo Mirpuri, ex-owner of Air Luxor and CEO of Mirpuri Investments (which has been recently hired by the government to bring medical supplies to Portugal from China), have also been present at such lunches. João Pedro Gomes, from the BSGG legal society, and Francisco Sá Nogueira, ex-VP of Espirito Santo Viagens travel – are also amongst the participants in such encounters.
The allies in BANIF and the BES universe
Francisco Cruz Martins has been associated with BANIF and BES banking corruption scandals, to the Panama Papers and to the Angolan elite.
For a while now, his name has also been connected to André Ventura. It seems rather ironic that this lawyer who is known for his entanglement in shady businesses has now decided to support the far right with the excuse that CHEGA is the only one that is fighting the status quo and the powerful. The truth is that there aren’t many recent corruption scandals that are not somehow connected to Cruz Martins.
The man who has introduced Cruz Martins to Ventura was Salvador Posser de Andrade – who is, alongside José Maria Ricciardi, director of the old Espirito Santo real estate company. Posser de Andrade has used his connections to fund CHEGA and to promote its leader.
Many of the luxurious fundraising events are known to have taken place in Hotel Palácio, Estoril. Amongst its facilitators are Jaime Nogueira Pinto – known for his lifelong fascist beliefs – and Eduardo Amaral Neto – from a family historically linked to Portugese fascism.
Concerning the future, Posser de Andrade is resolute – he’s sure that more money and friends will start helping CHEGA’s political ambitions.
This article first appeared on the Public Reading Rooms Website. Reproduced with permission