Jair Bolsonaro is the latest nationalist to rise to power

By Holly Williams

Elm Staff Writer

We’ve seen Donald Trump, Rodrigo Duterte, Norbert Hofer, and Marine Le Pen. Now Brazil’s new president-elect Jair Bolsonaro is the latest political leader to align themselves with the rising global trend of nationalism.

Bolsonaro, a far-right politician with a long military and political career, is notorious for his hateful rhetoric. Some of his most incendiary comments include: he would rather his son be a drug addict or dead than gay, one of his female colleagues did not “deserve” to be raped because she was ugly, refugees are the “scum of the earth,” black people are too lazy to even procreate, and his sons would never love a black woman because they were “educated.”

He won with 55 percent of the popular vote.

His rise to power can be seen as the extreme reaction to years of turmoil in Brazil. The country is dealing with the aftermath of its worst recession in 100 years, one of the largest corruption scandals ever in Latin American history, and the highest homicide rate seen by the country.

A contributing factor to Bolsonaro’s growing popularity was his anti-corruption and crime platform. His promise of restoring law and order to Brazil was enough for some of his supporters to dismiss his brand of bigotry. Bolsonaro’s solutions include police militarization and lessening public gun regulations.

After Rio De Janiero was put under martial law last February, security forces have killed over 1,000 people. The country was under a military dictatorship from 1964 to 1985. The dictatorship implemented such methods as torture, media censorship, and imprisonment of political dissidents.

Bolsonaro has frequently professed admiration for the regime, infamously saying that they should have killed more people in 1999.

On the campaign trail, he endorsed torture and firing squads. Despite the country’s dark history, eight out of 10 people in Brazil are favorable toward the armed forces.

Lack of faith in government and extreme economic disparity also set the stage for Bolsonaro’s extremism. Brazil’s incredibly popular former President, “Lula” De Silva, was the favorite to win this election in early polling, despite the fact he was imprisoned for money laundering and corruption.

The leftist Worker’s Party of Brazil that Lula represented controlled the government for over a decade.

Those dissatisfied with cronyism and elitism found renewed hope in Bolsonaro, who pledged a “political purging” not dissimilar to Trump’s promise to “drain the swamp.” Bolsonaro, however, included the condition that his opponents could face execution.

White House Security Advisor John Bolton called Bolsonaro a “like-minded partner” and President Trump tweeted about an “excellent call” they had.

We can expect a social countermovement when a large populace is upset at the way the government has been treating them. The abandonment of democratic ideals and endorsement of rhetoric that promotes brutality and divisiveness, however, is unacceptable and dangerous.

It is an especially difficult time for Brazil, but now the future is marked with the threat of fascist authoritarianism.

Many of Bolsonaro’s supporters believe he is the best option to make Brazil safe again, even if it comes at the cost of their democracy. It’s a question of public security versus human rights. But can Bolsonaro really promise to protect all Brazilians when he has already endorsed hatred against Brazil’s gay, woman, black, and partisan populations?

The lines between love of country and hatred of outsiders are becoming increasingly blurred. Fear and anger should not be the method with which we determine the course of world history. If we want to keep global politics free of hatred, we must stop legitimizing candidates of any party that espouse such ideals — both domestically and abroad.

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