Last month, Brazil elected right-wing politician Jair Bolsonaro to serve as president with 55 percent of the vote.
Bolsonaro holds hateful views towards women, homosexuals, people of color, immigrants, people in poverty and even democracy itself. Some of his most condemned comments include suggesting that if a child shows signs of being gay, they should be beaten. He also told a female congresswoman that he wouldn’t rape her because she “didn’t deserve it.”
He is such a polarizing figure that at a political rally in early September, Bolsonaro was stabbed, which caused his popularity to increase 28 percent in the polls, according to BBC News.
Bolsonaro’s attitudes and views are, by all accounts, harmful and damaging to a society where all people should feel safe and welcomed. Both political leaders and the United States citizenry need to condemn any and all hate speech spewed by Brazil’s president.
However, it is important to understand why Brazil put Bolsonaro in power.
Hundreds of top executives and government officials, including three former presidents, have been charged with corruption and put in prison. Brazil is still recovering from a country-wide recession that plunged 50 million people into poverty. Crime in Brazil is the worst it has been in decades, with the New York Times reporting in Aug. 2018 that there were 63,880 homicides in 2017.
Bolsonaro, a former military captain, campaigned as a political outsider with a platform that promised to revolutionize the economy, create a zero-tolerance policy towards crime and strengthen law enforcement.
He immediately gained support in his run for president.
Brazilians see Bolsonaro as the alternative to years of misery that have plagued the country. His outspoken demeanor and strong alliance with the traditional Christian values (Catholics and Protestants make up approximately 88 percent of Brazil’s population) have drawn comparisons between Bolsonaro and President Trump.
Indeed, the relationship between Trump and Bolsonaro seems to be one of mutual respect. Trump tweeted on Oct. 12, 2017, “I want to see Bolsonaro! He’s a good guy!… I look forward to meeting him!” Even National Security Adviser John Bolton called Bolsonaro “like-minded” with the Trump Administration and said his election was a “positive sign” for Brazil during a speech in Miami last week.
Similarly, Bolsonaro has said that he wants to align himself with the United States economically and increase cooperation on foreign policy.
The United States should take advantage of the pro-American sentiment in Brazil at the moment. As the world’s ninth-largest economy and the United State’s second-largest trading partner, strengthening economic ties with Brazil can only have positive effects for both the national and global economy.
Additionally, having strong allies in Brazil and other nations is necessary to reach the economic and political dominance of countries like China and Russia.
No, we should not forget or dismiss what Bolsonaro says or does. However, he won the presidential election with an overwhelming majority of the vote and both the Brazilian people and the global citizenry deserve to have the U.S. take every opportunity possible to better the globe, even if that means working with people we don’t agree with or like.
Leave a Reply