On Sunday, October 7th, Brazilians elected a new president, Jair Bolsonaro. Until this man was elected, I thought that the U.S. was alone in having lost its collective mind, as evidenced by the election of Donald Trump. Bolsonaro is every abominable thing Trump is … and much more. I have to question the sanity of the 55% of Brazilians who voted for this demagogue. But then, I have long questioned the sanity of those in the U.S. who voted for Donald Trump, also. Oh, and guess who worked on Bolsonaro’s campaign? None other than Trump’s former campaign advisor, Steve Bannon!!!First let’s look at some similarities …
- Opposes most all forms of gun control
- Strongly opposed to same-sex marriage
- Opposes environmental regulations
- Opposes women’s right of choice
- Opposes affirmative action
- Opposes land reforms
- Opposes secularism
- Plans to pull out of Paris climate accord
- Plans to move Brazil’s embassy in Israel to Jerusalem
- Is on his third marriage (yes, it’s irrelevant, but still says something, I think)
But then there are those ideas and rhetoric that take him beyond even what Trump dares to say …
He has made statements in defense of the former Brazilian military regime (a dictatorship known for constant human rights violations). He claims that torture is a “legitimate practice” and says that he would try to pass new legislation regarding the introduction of life imprisonment to the Brazilian penal code.
Bolsonaro said that “the error of the dictatorship was that it tortured but did not kill”.
Brazil has the world’s largest tropical rainforest in the Amazon basin. Bolsonaro has chafed at foreign pressure to safeguard the rainforest, and he served notice to international nonprofit groups such as the World Wildlife Fund that he will not tolerate their agendas in Brazil. He has also come out strongly against lands reserved for indigenous tribes. Bolsonaro advisers additionally say that he plans to expand nuclear and hydroelectric power into the Amazon.
In a 2017 speech, Bolsonaro stated, “God above everything. There is no such thing as this secular state. The state is Christian, and the minority will have to change, if they can.”
Bolsonaro argued that men and women should not receive the same salaries, because women get pregnant; adding that he believes federal law mandating paid maternity leave harms work productivity. Bolsonaro said that he had five children, that the first four were male and that for the fifth he produced a daughter out of “a moment of weakness”.
Bolsonaro said that “I would be incapable of loving a gay son,” and added that he would prefer any gay son of his “to die in an accident…” Seriously??? Wow, what a dad, huh? He went on to say that if a gay couple moved in next door to him, it would lower the market value of his house. Bolsonaro linked homosexuality to pedophilia, claiming that “many of the children who are adopted by gay couples will be abused by these couples.” I have to ask … what rock did this pos slither out from under??? “If I see two men kissing in the street, I will beat them.” He then publicly defended beating gay children by saying: “If your child starts to become like that, a little gay, you take a whip and you change their behavior.”
On October 4, 2018, Bolsonaro said: “A father does not want to come home and see his son playing with a doll by the influence of school. Homosexuals will be happy if I become president”
Trump and Bolsonaro both indicate they plan to work together to improve relations between the U.S. and Brazil, and their sons have already met. Eduardo Bolsonaro, Bolsonaro’s eldest son, met with Don Trump Jr. in Las Vegas. “They went to a shooting range together—not a major meeting but they got to know each other a bit,” according to a member of Bolsonaro’s party. Following Bolsonaro’s victory, Trump tweeted …
“Had a very good conversation with the newly elected President of Brazil, Jair Bolsonaro, who won the race by a substantial margin. We agreed that Brazil and the United States will work closely together on Trade, Military and everything else!”
Bolsonaro’s election is another feather in the cap of the populist movement. He won by tapping into a deep well of resentment at the status quo in Brazil — a country whiplashed by rising crime and two years of political and economic turmoil — and by presenting himself as the alternative. Unlike Donald Trump in 2016, Bolsonaro actually won the popular vote by 55%, but one thing they both said that is striking is that “I alone can fix this”. And they have in common their loudness, their crassness, their utter contempt for such things as respect, common courtesy and quiet dignity. They are both loud, ‘in your face’ sorts. Both countries have a large women’s protest movement … in the U.S. it is “Never Trump” and in Brazil it is “Ele Nao” (Not Him).
Like Trump, Bolsonaro has been a divisive figure in Brazil and those who love him seem to do so mainly for his tough talk. Having seen what nearly two years of Trump has wrought upon this nation, I can only empathize with the people of Brazil. Is this, then, the face of things to come, the type of ‘leader’ that people around the world will choose in the future? Let us hope not.