By Zachary Guiod
A few weeks ago Brazil had its 38th presidential election. I know it’s a lot to ask for Americans to read about other countries’ elections when they aren’t even motivated to vote in their own, but Brazil is an important country. It is the world’s fifth most populated country, seventh largest economy, fourth largest democracy, and the largest country in Latin America. It holds influence both regionally and globally.
Jair Bolsonaro won the race in Brazil with 55 percent of the vote. This has caused some to be alarmed because he has expressed racist, misogynistic and fascist views in the past and throughout his campaign.
In 2017 when speaking about a black settlement in Brazil that was founded by the descendants of slaves, he said, “They do nothing. They are not even good for procreation.” In 2011, Bolsonaro was asked what he would do if one of his sons married a black woman, he responded with, “I don’t run that risk because my sons were very well educated.”
Black woman aren’t the only people he doesn’t want his sons to be with. In a 2011 interview with Playboy magazine he said that he “would be incapable of loving a homosexual son.” He even went as far to say, “I would prefer my son to die in an accident than show up with a mustachioed man.” For one of the world’s largest democracies to have an openly homophobic leader in the year 2018 is quite disheartening.
In 2014, when Bolsonaro was still in the National Congress of Brazil, he told a congresswomen that she was too ugly for him to rape her. He also said, “I wouldn’t rape you because you don’t deserve it,” when responding to Maria do Rosario’s claims that he had encouraged rape.
He once told the National Congress that, “Yes, I’m in favour of a dictatorship.” He has repeatedly praised the military dictatorship that controlled Brazil from 1964 to 1985. One of the most shocking things about Brazil’s election is that a majority of voters in a democracy voted for a candidate who openly expresses anti-democratic views. However, to be fair, he has criticized Brazil’s past dictatorships. “The dictatorship’s mistake was to torture but not kill,” he told a radio interviewer in 2016.
Many journalists and political scientists are worried that because Brazil is such a young democracy, its institutions won’t be strong enough to withstand a president who has openly expressed fascist and anti-democratic views. Some see the election of Bolsonaro as part of the rise of right-wing politics that is taking place across the world.