The largest nation in Latin America has seen very conspicuous turbulence in the last several years.
Yesterday, Brazilians went to the polls in the second and final round of their presidential election, which was marred by extreme violence, including the stabbing of candidate, and eventual victor, extreme right-wing Congressman Jair Messias
As a young man, the president-elect served in the Army as a parachutist. During his presidential campaign, he promised to promote free enterprise so that the millions of impoverished Brazilians living in favelas would have greater opportunites to live the Brazilian dream.
Angry and frustrated by rising poverty, violent crime, and corruption, Brazilians voted yesterday, 55% to 45%, to elect Bolsonaro as their next president. Coming in second in the runoff was Workers’ Party candidate Fernando Haddad. This, after Workers’ Party candidate Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, the most popular politician ever in Brazil’s history and the founder of Luliism, was ruled ineligible to run in the election because of his previous conviction for “passive corruption.” Lula’s in jail.
In a highly unusual moment, just after he voted, but before the results were announced, the Chief Justice of Brazil’s Supreme Court, Jose Dias Toffoli, speaking to reporters, read out part of the Brazilian Constitution, and said “The future president must respect institutions, democracy, the rule of law, the judiciary, the national Congress, and the legislative branch.” All the reporters took this to be a rebuke of Bolsonaro and his more extreme positions (https://www.politico.com/story/2018/10/28/brazil-president-election-bolsonaro-944959).
Bolsonaro is a vocal opponent of same-sex marriage, abortion, affirmative action, drug liberalization, and secularism. He is extremely pro-gun, and he stridently opposes immigration from Haiti, Africa, and the Middle East, which he once called “the scum of humanity.” During the campaign, he expressed nostalgia for the good old days when Brazil was ruled by its military, which was notorious for committing numerous human rights violations, often in collaboration with our CIA. He says he wants closer relations with the US, which will be very easy since he is a fervent admirer of Donald Trump.
Naturally, Trump called Bolsonaro to congratulate him on his victory.
Associate solitary reporter Johanna Jones made special arrangements for associate solitary reporter Bettina Basanow, a native of Porto Allegre in southern Brazil, to be with her so they could both listen to Trump’s congratulatory phone call to Bolsonaro.
“Jair,” Trump began, jaringly mispronouncing Bolsonaro’s name. “You and I are gonna have such a great time together. I’m gonna help you take Brazil back to the good old days when only the wealthy had power and when the military ran everything.”
“You got that right, Donald,” Bolsonaro responded. “With your help, I’m going to make Brazil great again, by bringing the military back. It’s not for nothing that my critics call me a fascist. That’s why my vice-president is a retired general.”
“Tell you what, Jair, the best way to stay popular with your supporters is to continue to tell them only what they want to hear.”
“For example,” Trump continued, “after what happened Saturday at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburg, I had to decide whether to hold a previously scheduled rally, or cancel it. So I quickly decided to go ahead and hold the rally, and I told my adoring fans that on the day after 9/11, my close personal friends at the New York Stock Exchange were open for business.”
“Now of course you and I know that’s not true, but I said it anyway, because if I say it, it has to be true.”
Bolsonaro was quick to respond, saying, “Donnie, you and I will make a great team."