Jair Bolsonaro sworn in as Brazil’s President, increasing the number of far-right demagogues globally
Brazil has just sworn in its newest president, the far-right demagogue Jair Bolsonaro, who has promised to free Brazil of leftist “ideology.” The ex-army captain ran on a platform that stressed an anti-corruption and pro-gun agenda, which served to energize Brazil’s conservative wing following four consecutive wins from the left’s Worker’s Party, much like Donald Trump’s campaign did in the United States.
The 63-year-old former congressman is, unsurprisingly, a huge fan of American president Donald Trump. According to CBS News, in his inaugaration speech, Bolsonaro promised to free Brazilian schools from an “ideology of gender,” and called on the country to “respect our Judeo-Christian tradition” and to “prepare children for the job market, not political militancy.” He then called upon Congress “to help me rescue Brazil from corruption, criminality and ideological submission.”
After his address, Bolsonaro could be heard telling his supporters that he promised to “free Brazil” from both Socialism and political correctness, two themes that seem to run throughout both his campaign and the Trump Administration. Disturbingly, Bolsonaro’s middle name translates to “Messiah” in English, and many Brazilians have taken this as a sign that he has been chosen by God to take the reins of the country. This was reinforced following his survival of a stabbing during a rally back in September.
Bolsonaro has already drawn international criticism for his plans to eradicate the protected status of Amazonian indigenous people by rolling back environmental protections against mining in the area, as well as his plan to follow Trump and move the Brazilian embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Further, Bolsonaro’s disturbing plan for reducing murder and other violent crime in Brazil is to eliminate the option of prosecuting police who kill civilians during raids or other operations. Bolsonaro told reporters, “We are counting on Congress to provide the judicial support so police can do their jobs.”
Notable far-right leaders who attended Bolsonaro’s inauguration were Israel’s Benjamin Netanyahu and Hungary’s Viktor Orban, both of whom are facing trying times. Netanyahu is facing a corruption trial and Orban who is currently dealing with a revolt in Hungary led by its workers. Trump, for his part, sent Mike Pompeo, his Secretary of State and glowingly praised Bolsonaro on Twitter.
Congratulations to President @JairBolsonaro who just made a great inauguration speech – the U.S.A. is with you!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 1, 2019
Seven of Bolsonaro’s cabinet members are former military, which has stoked fears of a coming return to an autocratic style of government, but he promises to respect the Brazilian Constitution. However, as Riordan Roett, professor and director emeritus of Latin American studies at Johns Hopkins University told CBS, “The danger is that as a former low-ranking military officer, (Bolsonaro) will be swayed by some of the generals to come down hard on criminality, drug dealers, etc., and that may cause a backlash and many innocent people could be caught in the crossfire.”