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Sara Winter. Photo: Reporte Indigo
Sara Winter. Photo: Reporte Indigo

Sara Winter, the Bolsonaro hooligan blocked by Facebook (reluctantly)

The far-right activist is one of 12 people close to the Brazilian president whose 'wings' have been clipped by the Supreme Court for alleged slander and…

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Her real name is Sara Giromini, although she chose her artistic name - "Sara Winter" - in honor of a British woman who became a Nazi spy. She was also a staunch critic of President Bolsonaro and is now one of his biggest supporters: until the end of June, she led a radical armed militia called the "300 of Brazil" that set up camp in Brasilia and accused the Supreme Court judges and Congress of "not letting the president govern", calling for the "extermination of the left-wing" through their social media and threatening to make Supreme Court judge Alexandre de Moraes' life a living hell. 

However, Moraes was far from being intimidated.

After Sara Winter's arrest at the end of June, the judge ordered Facebook to block Winter's accounts and 12 other people from Bolsonaro's circle a month later. Although the technology giant has resisted what they call a blow to freedom of expression, it has to obey the law.

"This new legal order is extreme, as it poses a threat to freedom of expression outside of Brazil's jurisdiction and conflicts with laws and jurisdictions around the world," Facebook declared in a statement, adding they would appeal the Brazilian Supreme Court's order.

The company had initially refused to block the accounts, for which it was fined US$365,000 and its chief executive, Conrado Lester, was called to trial.  

"Given the threat of criminal liability for a local employee, at this time we see no alternative but to comply with the decision by blocking the accounts worldwide, while appealing to the Supreme Court," continued Facebook.

The controversy in court is far greater than an accusation of censorship. Not only because the accounts affected correspond to personalities such as magnate Lucio Hang, conservative lawmaker Roberto Jefferson, or Winter herself, but because the Court has long been investigating who is behind the demonstrations calling for military intervention and those responsible for financing the huge fake news network that Bolsonaro appears to have benefited from — including some scandals such as the fake internet accounts that people close to him, including Flávio, the president's son, used to impersonate anti-government journalists. 

After Winter's arrest in June, several right-wing businessmen and bloggers were searched and the courts authorized gathering the bank details of a dozen Alianza deputies. 

What did they find? What is the real driving force and influence of Sara Winter?

From Femen to Bolsonarist

"Pro-life, pro-god and pro-arms." This could be the motto of activist Sara Winter, 27, who jumped into the media en masse last June by barricading herself with a handful of extreme Bolsonaro supporters in front of the Supreme Court in Brasilia, throwing fireworks at the building and threatening it with hoods and torches. They demanded, as Winter said, that the Supreme Court judges to "be removed by the law or by the hands of the people."
 
"We are prepared to give our lives for the nation, and our weapons are faith in God, hope in this government and methods of non-violent action," the activist told the BBC.
Interestingly, Sara Winter was not always like that. Before becoming a staunch Bolsonarist, the muse of the Brazilian ultra-right wing was a member of Femen, painted "Get out, Bolsonaro" on her chest and even castrated a doll representing the then deputy. 

However, according to Femen, Winter was expelled from the organization in 2012 after "disappearing" with the money from a protest that she never organized and using the Internet to slander the collective. 

Now Sara Winter is proud to be a "former feminist," even though even her own family congratulated themselves after her arrest and well-known Bolsonarists turned their backs on her.
"She is a totally out of control person, she just wants to appear in the media," Carla Zambelli, a member of Bolsonaro's hard-core circle, said in June.

Winter's brother, Diego Giromini, also said that Sara's intention was to claim to be a "political prisoner."

There is no doubt that after the Facebook sledgehammer, Winter is the symbol of the struggle between the Supreme Court and Bolsonaro. A Helen of Troy or the apple of discord?

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