Listen: Michelle Carmody in conversation with Stephen O’Doherty.
Brazil has just elected an extreme hardline conservative President. Dubbed the “Trump of the Tropics”, Jair Bolsonaro admires dictators, despises political correctness and has been described as one of the most extreme figures in global electoral politics.
President has extreme views
Due to take office on the 1st of January, Jair Bolsonaro was described by The Atlantic as mixing “Rodrigo Duterte’s bloodlust with Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s disdain for secularism and democratic institutions, and he has spent his 27-year political career keeping alive the ideology that powered South America’s brutal 20th-century military regimes. He has recently promised “a cleansing never before seen in Brazilian history,” and to ban all “bandit” political opponents from the “fatherland.”
“I am in favor of torture — you know that. And the people are in favor of it, too.”
Melbourne University Latin American specialist, Michelle Carmody, spoke on Open House about his win and what it means for Brazil.
Human rights concerns
Human Rights groups have serious concerns about what Bolsonaro will do once he takes power. Human Rights Watch describe the President elect as “a pro-torture” and “openly bigoted” and say they will closely monitor Bolsonaro’s Presidency.
José Miguel Vivanco, Americas director at Human Rights Watch says Brazil´s judiciary and other key institutions should resist any attempt to undermine human rights, the rule of law, and democracy under Jair Bolsonaro’s government.
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“Brazil has independent judges, committed prosecutors and public defenders, courageous reporters, and a vibrant civil society. We will join them in standing up against any attempt to erode the democratic rights and institutions that Brazil has painstakingly built in the last three decades.” says Mr Vivanco.
In his decades-long career in Congress and as a presidential candidate, Bolsonaro has endorsed abusive practices that undermine the rule of law, defended the country´s dictatorship, and has been a vocal proponent of bigotry, Human Rights Watch says. His public comments are often extreme according to the New York Times.
Amazon rainforest at risk
Most recently he has decried environmental protections and there are concerns that this may further endanger the Amazon. More than half of the Amazon rainforest is in Brazil, and environmentalists worry Bolsonaro’s presidency will open it up to increased deforestation and mining.
According to an extensive report (including some wonderful photographs) in the New York Times, “Jair Bolsonaro, favors abolishing protected indigenous lands. He has promised to scale back enforcement of environmental laws, calling them an impediment to economic growth, and has made his intentions for the Amazon clear. “Where there is indigenous land,” he said last year, “there is wealth underneath it.”
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Main Photo credit: Fernando Frazão / Agência Brasil