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Rise of the Right: Jair Bolsonaro of Brazil

Jair Bolsonaro recently secured the spot of Brazilian President-Elect. Who is Bolsonaro, what are his stances, and how will his incumbency affect Latin America and the world at large?

Jair Bolsonaro of Brazil served in the country’s congress for 27 years. During his tenure, he was mostly benign, apart from some headlines depicting extreme views regarding LGBT rights, minorities and women.  Bolsonaro is described as a far-right nationalist with authoritarian tendencies and fascist inclinations. Many of his campaign promises, if kept, will be detrimental to domestic and international affairs.


Brazil’s Indigenous Populations

The election of Bolsonaro is bad news for indigenous populations of Brazil. Once, he was quoted as saying “… it’s a shame that that the Brazilian cavalry wasn’t as efficient as the Americans, who exterminated their Indians.” With such a large and diverse population spanning the entire Amazon Forest, Brazil is home to over 100 uncontacted tribes – more than anywhere else in the world. Bolsonaro has threatened to shut down the federal department in charge of indigenous rights.

Brazil has a daunting history in regard to indigenous rights; many tribes faced genocide in the 1970s and 80s as a consequence of mass deforestation in the country. Already criticized as inadequate, the abolition of one of the last-standing federal organizations protecting them will almost assure their decimation.

Environmental Concerns

Bolsonaro plans to merge Brazil’s agriculture and environment ministries, which many fear will turn the remining untouched portions of the Amazon into farmland. Many conservationists fear that this merger will only serve to facilitate short-term business interests. Bolsonaro wants to merge the two ministries in order to ensure production over environmental protection. Brazilian agribusiness and mining lobbies, some of the strongest financial backers of Bolsonaro, want to open the Amazon, Cerrado and other protected areas for business.

The Threat to Human Rights and Domestic Politics

Bolsonaro’s inflammatory rhetoric quite possibly brinks on illegal. His speeches about executing political foes, accusations that the left persecutes his party and supporters, and even calling a female congresswoman unworthy of rape top the list. His personal military ties give credibility to promises of security reform, popular with a public who is tired of corruption and violence.

Although Bolsonaro won’t take office until January, he is already poised to position military members as key parts of his cabinet, will work to expand gun rights and boosting international arms sales.

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