Jair Bolsonaro is an outspoken advocate of Brazil’s military dictatorship and is well known for his several attacks against women, black people, refugees and the LGBT community.
Some of his statements include: «She doesn’t deserve to be raped because she’s very ugly» – which he addressed to the leftist deputy Maria do Rosario in December 2014; «The dictatorship’s mistake was to torture but not kill» – as he claimed during an interview with Jovem Pan radio station in June 2016; «I would be incapable of loving a homosexual son. I’m not going to be a hypocrite: I’d rather my son died in an accident than showed up with some bloke with a moustache» – as he affirmed in an interview with Playboy Magazine in June 2011.
Bolsonaro became prominent in the Brazilian political scene asserting his authoritarian view.
He is a strongman in the eyes of the Brazilian people, who have suffered through a period of political uncertainty and mistrust in their leaders: they have just come off the impeachment of the former president, Dilma Rousseff, have suffered the economic deep crash of 2015-2016 and have to deal with more than 60000 murders per year.
What tends to happen after the victory of extremist leaders? Political commentators do their best to convince their audiences that counterbalance powers will mitigate the most fanatic beliefs. When interviewed by fox news, Brazil ambassador to USA Sergio Amaral insisted on this point underlying that «since the second ground of the election president elect was very moderate».
How can a man who pronounced such radical statements be truly moderate? Indeed, why does he have to be moderate if this radical policy granted him the presidency in the first place?
Let us consider what happened when contemporary politicians who presented themselves as radicals actually obtained a position of power:
- President of the Philippines Rodrigo Duterte during his election campaign also made some controversial declarations such as «Hitler massacred 3 million Jews… There’s 3 million drug addicts. There are. I’d be happy to slaughter them.» He then demonstrated his authoritarian tendencies by ordering Philippines’ police forces to kill anyone they believed to be connected to the drugs trade. His “war on drugs” determined the death of 7,000 people in Philippines between July 2016 and January 2017.
- Italian minister of interior Matteo Salvini has always had extremist and populistic opinions on immigration: he said, in an interview in 2017, that there was a need of a «Mass cleansing, street by street, quarter by quarter» and then, referring to the Diciotti issue, that: «No one will land in Italy without my authorization». Thanks to these very claims his party is now the most popular in Italy. In June he went as far as proposing a new census of the members of the Rom community while suggesting that all non-Italian Roms should be expelled from the country.
- Finally, President Trump made the construction of an anti-immigrants wall on the Mexico border one of the main points of his presidential campaign. It is true he didn’t build this wall yet, but this doesn’t mean he abandoned his radical policy. In fact, he is now trying to end the birth-right citizenship.
Maybe Bolsonaro will really become moderate and change his ideas. But for now let us reflect upon these examples and see what truly happens in contemporary politics.