The global order has taken another leap towards alt-right conservatism, this time in Brazil, with the election of Jair Bolsonaro. Bolsonaro is a boorish, offensive former Army captain who yearns for the days of military dictatorship in his country. Bolsonaro is known throughout Brazil as a far-right conservative, whose views and political ambition has lent himself support from right-wing politicians and individuals across the world, including Donald Trump himself. He has prided himself on being anti-LGBTQIA+ rights, anti-racial and gender diversity, anti-environmental advocacy and maintenance, and pro-torture and murder alongside a list of other horrific stances.
“Yes, I’m homophobic – and very proud of it.” – Bolsonaro
Having noted himself as anti-LGBTQIA+, Bolsonaro has been quoted stating, “I would prefer my son die in an accident than be gay.” He staunchly believes that queer individuals will bring about a value decrease in the housing market, especially if seen romantically outside of their homes. With his election, many LGBTQIA+ people and advocates across the country are finding themselves preparing for a major set-back in allowing their freedom. Similar to that of Trump’s election in 2016, the undercurrent of homophobia across Brazil will now find a stronger voice under the leadership of Bolsonaro. Many of his supporters have already taken to inflicting physical and verbal abuse towards members of the LGBTQIA+ community, and Bolsonaro is inspiring countless atrocities including the death of a transgender woman only moments before the election.
“I wouldn’t rape you because you don’t deserve it.” – A statement Bolsonaro threw at congresswoman Maria do Rosario.
His views on women are truly awful. Bolsonaro refuses to see eye to eye with female politicians, and has acted aggressively towards them in the past, at one point telling a congresswoman she was “not worth raping” because in his eyes she isn’t physically attractive enough. His ideas regarding women, in general, have been out-right offensive – he has brandished beliefs that women shouldn’t be paid as much as men, and he is staunchly against a woman’s right to have an abortion.
One of South America’s most iconic natural landmarks is the Amazon rainforest, 60% of which lies within Brazil’s borders. This area is one of the most important on Earth, often referred to as ‘the lungs of the planet.’ In many ways, the future of our planet depends on the Amazon being taken care of. The damages wrought by Bolsonaro’s rise to power have the potential to be monumental for the region. If we’re to believe that his position against environmental policies is to be enforced, there is sure to be damage inflicted upon the global environment and atmosphere. He has indicated a willingness to pave over the rainforest in favour of highways and dams that threaten to demolish years of environmental preservation and negatively affect global climate change initiatives, and he has demonstrated a pro-logging stance. Bolsonaro is seemingly dedicated to relaxing environmental laws whilst also helping to criminalise activism. His loyalty stands with that of big businesses, and in finding ways in which the rich bio-diversity of Brazil’s section of the Amazon can be exploited for profit.
This all begs the question: How could the world elect another far-right authoritarian to power? The answer, however, is simple. Bolsonaro has had a hand in uniting the three factions of rightists within the country of Brazil. He was able to position himself as tough on the crime which plagues the country. He separated himself from Brazil’s corrupt political elite class, playing as a political outsider ready to turn old norms on their head. The reality is that Bolsonaro is a man who has spoken highly of the military dictatorship that once ruled the country, and has indicated that his methods of cracking down on crime and corruption would mirror those implemented by the repressive former regime he so admires.
Before his election to president, a campaign to try and prevent his rise was undertaken across Brazil, one that still looms large after the fact. “Ele não!” or “Not him!“ is a slogan adopted by a significant portion of the Brazilian-population that remain staunchly against Bolsonaro’s beliefs and political aspirations. Many LGBTQIA+ advocates, women, and minorities across the country banded together to chant these words in the streets, defying the leadership of someone who could potentially bring forth the downfall of the modern Brazilian community. Across the world, people have come together under this protest to highlight the issues within Bolsonaro’s cabinet, hoping that if we unite we may inspire some change and resist any and all damaging affects his administration may bare.
It seems we’ve reached a zenith of political nonsense in 2018. However, this doesn’t mean that communities of strong, brave people should back down. As Brazil finds itself under an ultra-conservative administration, there’s an even more dire need for people who oppose Bolsonaro’s ideals to stand up and make sure their voices are never silenced. The people who will be directly affected by the wrath wrought by Bolsonaro have the right to a fair and just state of living, and while he may have won the presidency, smaller victories for the minorities of the country, such as the appointment of two trans women, Erica Malunguinho and Erika Hilton, to legislature, continue to show that while the country may be down for now, it’s definitely not out. Not by a long shot.