What comes to mind when you think of Donald Trump? Homophobe? Sexist? Hatemonger? Far-Right? Unfortunately, Brazilian politician Jair Bolsonaro is all of those things — and like Trump, he might actually make it to the presidency.
Who is Jair Bolsonaro?
Bolsonaro started his political career in 1988. Prior to that, he served in the Brazilian Army as a parachutist. Though he started his career as part of the Christian Democratic Party, he’s currently aligned with the Social Christian Party (or Partido Social Cristão, also known as the PSC).
The PSC was originally a centrist party, but in 2013, it took a hard-right turn. The PSC wooed Bolsonaro from the Progressistas party — which, despite its name, is a center-right party — in 2016.
Bolsonaro is also a popular politician. He was first elected city councillor in Brazil’s capital city, Rio de Janeiro. In 1990, he was elected to be the federal congressman from Rio, serving four consecutive terms.
What does Jair Bolsonaro believe?
Bolsonaro is hard right. He’s an open anti-communist. He also openly defends the Brazilian militarist regime that took power in 1964. He’s come out against any form of same-sex unions, particularly marriage. Bolsonaro has also fought against affirmative action-like policies and the decriminalization of drugs.
Democracy returned to Brazil in 1985, though in 1993, he praised the military regime that previously ruled the country. He’s also praised Peru’s president Alberto Fujimori for using military intervention against the judicial and legislative branches of that country’s government. Bolsonaro has argued for the death penalty and military intervention into the Brazilian government.
Sexist and homophobic comments by Jair Bolsonaro
Like Donald Trump, Jair Bolsonaro has made his fair share of ignorant, controversial comments. In 2015, he was fined 10,000 reais (or about $2,500) for saying he would never rape female politician Maria do Rosario, because she wasn’t “worth it” because “she is very ugly.”
In his stump speech, he said he’d “rather have a dead son over a gay son.” And he’s also said “fundamentalist homosexual groups are trying to take over society… want to reach our children in order to turn them into gay adults to satisfy [homosexuals’] sexuality in the future.” Bolsonaro has also said gay couples’ right to adoption is like pedophilia and claimed homosexuality is a result of drug use.
Like Trump, whenever Jair Bolsonaro says something repulsive, his popularity rises.
Unfortunately, just like when Trump says something awful and his supporters rally around him, the same thing happens with Bolsonaro. In April he trailed Brazil’s former president Lula by 15%; now that Lula has left the race, Bolsonaro has the majority of the votes. He’s particularly popular among evangelicals, and identifies with other far-right candidates from around the world. He’s blamed his critics for attempting to “stifle him” like French far-right politician Marine Le Pen. Le Pen lost her election this year to Emmanuel Macron.
And like Trump, Bolsonaro’s toxic views have led the media to not take him seriously — which Bolsonaro could use for his advantage. Sadly, Trump’s election has shown itself not to be a fluke. Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines has also been compared to Trump due to his outspoken nature and also won his country’s presidency.
Will Jair Bolsonaro follow in Donald Trump’s and Rodrigo Duterte’s steps? We hope not — but fear he will.
Featured image by Agência Brasil Fotografias