Editor | Cassandra Lau
After intense campaigning, far-right Brazilian candidate, Jair Bolsonaro, wins the presidential elections with 55.13 per cent of the popular vote against 44.8 per cent for Fernando Haddad of the left-wing Workers’ Party.
The disheartened faces that roam the streets of Brazil conjures a not too long ago election which determined Donald Trump as the 45th President of the United States. The U.S. President took to twitter:
Mr Bolsonaro yielded great support from Conservatives, and is seen by many Anglican Christians as a saviour with his strong stance against abortion.
However, much controversy is raised by the following:
1 . He describes Brazil’s repressive military dictatorship as “a very good” period that “stopped Brazil [from] falling under the swap of the Soviet Union.”
As a former army captain, Bolsonaro has great admiration for the army with many reciprocal feelings of respect from the people. However, his awe extends to the country’s repressive military dictatorship that dominated from 1964 to 1985. Rewinding back a bit to President Dilma Rousseff’s impeachment vote in 2016, Bolsonaro made use of his congressional speaking time to praise Carlos Brilhante Ustra, the head of the DOI-CODI, “the intelligence agency responsible for stamping out critics during military rule” between 1970 and 1974. Baring in mind that this was a period of time when political dissidents were detained and tortured by the secret police, he has thus openly admitted his disregard for basic human rights.
Mr Bolsonaro also assured, “To leave no doubt, there will be a bunch of military ministers” in his Cabinet. His determination to see military generals to government posts is because he, “believe[s] it’s difficult to make a military person corrupt.”
With a series of ongoing investigations, known as Lava Jato (Car Wash), that has exposed “enormous corruption in the political class”, many Brazilians do not trust politicians. As a result, many have kept an open mind, or been convinced that a military run-government would see greater improvements.
2. Misogynistic Comments
In an argument between Maria do Rośario, from the Brazilian Community Party, and Bosonaro back in 2014, he is filmed shouting, “I would never rape you , because you don’t deserve it.” He later comments that he would not rape do Rosario because she is “ugly” and “not his type” on the Zero Hora newspaper. In 2016, following a complaint filed by the female lawmaker, the Supreme Court Justice, Luiz Fux says:
Bolsonardo’s use of the word “deserve” suggested that the crime of rape was somehow “a prize, favour or a boon” based on the whims of a rapist.
The Justice added that Bolsonaro’s statement “not only belittles the dignity of women, (but also) says that victims deserve the suffering.
The new Brazilian President has also said that he would not treat or pay women the same as men in the workplace in an television interview:
“Because women get more labour rights than men, meaning they get maternity leave, the employer prefers to hire men … I would no employer [women equally]. But there are a lot of competent women out there.”
When talking about his children on stage, he said, “I had four sons but then I had a moment of weakness, and the fifth was a girl.”
3. On Race
Last year, he caused an outcry by declaring that Afro-Brazilian inhabitants in communities known as quilombos (black descendants of rebel African salves):
“don’t do anything. I don’t think they’re even good for procreation any more”
He also added:
“You can be sure that if I get there [the presidency], there’ll be no money for NGOs. If it’s up to me, every citizen will have a gun at home. Not one centimetre will be demarcated for indigenous reserves or quilombolas.”
(Source: The Guardian)
Not only is Bolsonaro against the idea of reparations, he disregards a brutal part of history:
“What historic debt do we have with blacks? I never enslaved them. The Portuguese never set foot in Africa. The blacks were delivered by blacks.”
Despite Brazil importing more African slaves than any other country during the Atlantic slave trade era with an estimated 4.9 million slaves, Bolsonaro deflects all blame and responsibility. (Source: Tema Livre)
Last but not least, when he was asked how he would react if one of his sons dated a black woman, he replied:
“I won’t discuss promiscuity. I don’t run that risk because my sons were very well educated.”
4. “Yes, I’m homophobic – and very proud of it.”
In May 2002, after then-President Fernando Henrique Cardoso turned up to an event in support of same-sex marriage holding a rainbow flag, Bolsonaro said:
“I won’t fight against it nor discriminate, but if I see two men kissing each other on the street, I’ll beat them up.”
In December 2011, Bolsonaro said that he “would be incapable of loving a homosexual son” in an interview with the Playboy magazine. “I would be unable to love a gay son. I won’t be a hypocrite here: I would prefer that my son die in an accident rather than appear with a [gay] moustache. For me, he would be dead.”
“If a gay couple came to live in my building, my property will lose value. If they walk around holding hands, kissing, it will lose value! No one says that out of fear of being pinned as homophobe.”
In a 2013 interview with Stephen Fry, Balsonaro claimed that “homosexual fundamentalists” propagandise heterosexual children into becoming “gays and lesbians to satisfy them sexually in the future.” Also declaring that “Brazilian society doesn’t like homosexuals.” According to The Guardian, the British actor later called the experience, “one of the most chilling confrontations I’ve ever had with a human being”.
Though discrimination and violence against the LGBT community has long existed, the presence of an elected homophobic president will help “launch a new era of brutality and threats.”
Beto de Jesus, Veteran LGBT activist and founder of São Paulo’s annual gay pride parade, says:
“It’s as if the gates of hell have been opened – as if hunting season had been declared. It’s barbarism.”
5. “I’m pro-torture, and the people are too.”
6. Democracy, what democracy?
In the 1999 interview above, he was asked if he would shut down Congress if he were president, and his response was:
“There is no doubt. I would perform a coup on the same day. [Congress] doesn’t work. And I am sure that at least 90 per cent of the population would celebrate and applaud because it doesn’t work. The Congress today is useless … lets do the coup already. Let’s go straight to the dictatorship.”
Later on in the interview, he adds:
“Elections won’t change anything in this country. Unfortunately, it will only change on the day that we break out in civil war here and do the job that the military regime didn’t do: killing 30,000. If some innocent people die, that’s fine. In every war, innocent people die. I will even be happy if I die as long as 30,000 others go with me.”
Fast forward to being elected president: he didn’t get his 90 per cent vote, and it has been a day and a bit since he got elected and Congress still exists – so there may be still hope?