“Trump on Steroids” Brazilian Candidate Could Set the Country Back Decades

A controversial, far-right political candidate has won the first round of Brazil’s political elections this year. Jair Bolsonaro, of the Social Liberal party (PSL), could effectively set his country back decades with his racist, misogynistic views and hateful rhetoric.

A Man with No Filter

Some of Bolsonaro’s statements have been so extreme that they make some of President Trump’s most controversial comments pale in comparison:

On women: “I had four sons, but then I had a moment of weakness, and the fifth was a girl.”

On homosexuality: “I’d rather have my son die in a car accident than have him show up dating some guy.” He also said he would be incapable of loving a homosexual son.

On torture: “I’m pro-torture, and the people are too.”

On equal salaries for men and women: “Men and women should not receive the same salaries as men because women get pregnant.”

On minorities (in this case, quilombolas, black descendants of African slaves living in Brazil):  “They don’t do anything. I don’t think they’re even good for procreation any more.”

To Maria do Rosario, a female representative in Congress: “I’m not going to rape you, because you’re very ugly.” (Bolsonaro was ordered to pay Rosario a meager fine that amounted to about $2,500 US dollars.)

On change:  “You won’t change anything in this country through voting – nothing, absolutely nothing. Unfortunately, you’ll only change things by having a civil war and doing the work the military regime didn’t do.” Bolsonaro is in favor of using violence to achieve results, also saying, “ If a few innocent people die, that’s alright.”

Brazil’s Dark Past

From 1964 to 1985, a cruel military regime ruled Brazil. In those years, anyone who spoke against the dictatorship was censored or tortured. Then, democracy was restored and the economy stabilized.

But now, after a recent president, Lula da Silva, was thrown in prison for corruption, political unrest has caused a state of “unreason” among some Brazilians. Many are calling for a rejection of da Silva’s party— the Worker’s Party (PT), to which Bolsonaro’s opponent in the presidential race belongs.

Furthermore, like Bolsonaro, a shocking 43% are in favor of military intervention in government affairs. That number could be the result of propaganda stating that there was “no corruption” under military rule, and because many youthful voters were not around during the 70s and 80s to know what it was truly like. 

Tanks in Rio de Janeiro on April 1, 1964

“Draining the Swamp”

Brazil’s citizens are tired of the violence that has shaken the country to its core in recent years. Rapes are up by 8%. The murder rate has reached new record—63,880 people were killed in 2017. An average of 14 people are killed by police every day.

Ironically, Bolsonaro has promised to let all Brazilians have access to guns in order to combat the violence. He has also called for a return to “traditional, family values” and for getting rid of dishonest government officials.

Therefore, some support Bolsonaro out of a desire to “drain the swamp” of corrupt politicians. Sound familiar? Perhaps it’s a reminder of the reasoning behind some US citizens who voted for Trump in 2016 because they wanted “a change from the norm”.

However, supporting a candidate just because he is “honest” and “speaks his mind” can’t possibly be the best way to achieve change– especially when that candidate has proved that his mind is full of ill-informed, hateful beliefs.

The Looming Darkness

A second round of voting will be held on October 28th. If Bolsonaro is elected, change will certainly come, but not for the better.

Bolsonaro has promised to bring changes that don’t look promising for Brazil’s efforts to conserve the dwindling Amazon rainforest and protect the environment.

To begin with, he has stated that he wishes to withdraw Brazil from the 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change. He also wants to shut down two agencies that monitor deforestation and issue fines for environmental degradation, the IBAMA and the Chico Mendes Institute.

The “ruralistas”— big landowners and wealthy business owners— will undoubtedly support Bolsonaro’s regressive environmental agenda. And protected lands belonging to indigenous communities? True to his racist comments, he’s poised to do away with legislative protection for land belonging to such minorities.

Hoping for Change

Luckily, there are those who are willing to take a stand against Bolsonaro’s march toward making Brazil oppressive again. Women in particular have organized large rallies, both live and on social media. It’s no surprise, considering the fact that in most states he has 75% less support among women than among men. “He’s the candidate who has the biggest discrepancy between his male vote and his female vote in the history of Brazil,” said José Roberto de Toledo, a political journalist.

A Facebook page called “Women United Against Bolsonaro” has nearly 4 million followers. Many have used the hashtag #EleNão ( #NotHim), in hopes that other Brazilians will come to their senses and refuse to support a man looking to bring their country back to the darkness of its past. They know that change must come— but by different means.


Photo Credits: desacato.info, lula.com.br,colunastortas.com.br, americasouthandnorth.wordpress.com, internationalrivers.org

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