Last night, Brazilians elected Jair Bolsonaro, a far-right extremist, to be their next president. Bolsonaro amassed 55.1% of the votes, compared to his competitor’s (Fernando Haddad) 44.9%.
Bolsonaro’s victory caps ones of the most polarizing and violent political campaigns in Brazil’s history, amid a prolonged recession, rising crime rates and widespread corruption scandals.
In a victory speech Sunday, Bolsonaro said he was a “defender of freedom” who would run a government that protected citizens who “follow their duties and respect the laws.”
“The laws are for everyone, this is how it will be during our constitutional and democratic government,” he said.
This is bad news, for many reasons.
First, it’s part of a larger worldwide trend that shows democracy on the decline. This isn’t just happening in the United States and Brazil, but around the world. The Economist publishes an annual report that gives countries around the world a score of 0 to 10 based on 60 indicators, and more than half of the 167 countries saw their scores go down from the previous year.
Brazil is a rather young democracy, and as Vox reported, Bolsonaro is more hip to the military dictatorships.
In 2016, Bolsonaro voted to impeach then-President Dilma Rousseff — indicating that he did so in honor of the deceased chief of secret police in São Paulo, who oversaw the torture of hundreds under military rule. It was a disturbing act, as Rousseff herself had been imprisoned and tortured by the dictatorship.
For his presidential run, Bolsonaro chose as his running mate a retired military general who has also made disconcerting statements about military power, including that the return of military rule in Brazil could be justified under some circumstances.
Second, there’s that whole “religion” thing. Bolsonaro has made it no secret that he plans on doing what he can to install a Christian theocracy in Brazil. During his campaign, he actually said:
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. The minorities will have to adapt to the position of the majority.
That just sounds like fascism with extra steps.
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This may not sound too terrible to most Brazilians. About 89% of Brazilians practice some form of Christianity, while just 8% do not subscribe to any religion. If Bolsonaro follows through on his promise, it might come as good news to that 89%, but I suspect many of them might be upset if they learn it’s not their particular form of Christianity that the state endorses. This is why freedom from and of religion should be valued just as much by religious people as it is to atheists. Of the countless sects of Christianity out there, you can practice any particular one you like without the government telling you that you’re wrong.
Bolsonaro has said things that are even more concerning, such as:
We cannot continue flirting with socialism, communism, populism and leftist extremism… We are going to change the destiny of Brazil.
To be fair, he didn’t say he was going to change it for the better.
In his acceptance speech, he also promised to ‘govern according to the Bible’, which I can only assume means we’re going to see a lot more stoning and fewer people mixing their fabrics.
Third, he’s (and I hesitate to say this because it sounds like I’m engaging in hyperbole but I don’t think I am) probably even worse than Trump when it comes to human rights.
Vox also reported:
– He disparaged indigenous and Quilombolas communities, who are descendants of Afro-Brazilian slaves, implying, among other things, that they were lazy. “I think they don’t even manage to procreate anymore,” the candidate said.
– He said that if he had a gay son, he would be unable to love him and would “prefer that he die in an accident.”
– He said a fellow lawmaker in congress wasn’t attractive enough to be raped because she was ugly. “She’s not my type. I would never rape her. I’m not a rapist, but if I were, I wouldn’t rape her because she doesn’t deserve it,” Bolsonaro said in 2014.
– Bolsonaro responded to a question in 2011 about what he would do if his son fell in love with a black woman by saying, “I don’t run that risk because my sons were very well educated.”
He’s also played the role of being a “political outsider” despite serving seven terms in Brazil’s Congress, and he’s said he will restore law and order and focus on family values.
Sound familiar at all? There’s a reason his nickname is “Tropical Trump.”
Oh, and there’s also the thing where he wants to bulldoze parts of the Amazon rainforest. Because, you know, fuck trees and shit. Forbes reported:
Brazil hosted the Earth Summit in 1992, which created the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, which went on to design the Paris Agreement. In the 2000s, Brazil’s left-wing government pledged zero deforestation in the Amazon and, with foreign aid, led an aggressive effort to route out illegal logging. It has been such a leader on climate change that it volunteered to host next year’s annual climate summit – a summit that is now in doubt.
Bolsonaro says that the Paris Agreement and its requirements compromises Brazil’s sovereignty over the Amazon. Brazil has pledged to lower its carbon emissions by 43% by 2030 from 2005 levels, mostly through reduced deforestation.
What drives me crazy about this is the blatant hypocrisy of it all. You have someone who wants to instill Christian family values™ (whatever that means), but at the same time holds truly horrible views on human rights and individual liberty… And it’s the exact same process we saw happen in the United States in the 2016 election. A far-right populist extremist plays to a Christian base, hypocrisy be damned.