My quick thoughts on Jair Bolsonaro’s candidacy for president of Brazil

I have been asked a few times my thoughts on the controversial Jair Bolsonaro, Brazil’s leading candidate for the presidency. Bolsonaro was stabbed at a rally yesterday. The reports indicate that while he is in a stable condition, full recovery is still uncertain a. His fans will likely view his cause with a greater martyr-like passion and his opponents–populating the major networks in Brazil will outdo themselves in advertisements against him in these final 30 days.

Bolsonaro has been named as the Brazilian Donald Trump. He has received the kind of press Donald Trump has for speaking his mind. For example, he opines openly about sexuality issues condemning the public education system for their graphic school books on anal sex and other homosexual acts. He also wants to enact a policy that sexual abusers shall be chemically castrated which has been interpreted as homophobic by many and received strong opposition from human rights’ activists largely on the left of Brazil’s politics.

He has a general disposition towards de-bureaucratizing government policies. The man who will lead his economics department is a firm believer in more limited government and privatization. Bolsonaro also has a similar Trumpian view of trading with China. Bloomberg summarizes his position:
China is currently Brazil’s biggest trading partner but Bolsonaro has serious reservations about Chinese investment in Brazil. He says Brazil should trade with China, but says he’d like “trade with the United States to be much larger” than with the Asian nation. He prefers “great partnerships” with U.S. firms instead of “making concessions to the Chinese.”
Jair Bolsonaro has a military background which makes his central agenda the security of the Brazilian people which is one reason his numbers are so high at this stage in the election cycle. Brazil’s violence continues to soar under the current presidency. The New York Times observes:
With 62,517 violent deaths in 2016, Brazil reached a record-high homicide rate of more than 30 per 100,000 residents, according to the latest annual study that compiles law enforcement and health statistics. (In the United States that rate dropped to five homicides per 100,000 people from eight from 1996 to 2015.)
In my estimation, Bolsonaro will be a needed change from leftist politics that have dominated the country for almost two decades. Honestly, he needs to win. If the Brazilian political system is not shaken now, the country will become a glorified version of Venezuela.
  1. Thanks to Marcos Romano for the update  (back)
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