Meet Jair Bolsonaro: The newly elected Brazilian president

Brazil has shocked the world by electing a new, far right leader.

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Meet Jair Bolsonaro: The newly elected Brazilian president

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Following suit with the US, on October 29th, 2018, Brazil has elected right-wing nationalist Jair Bolsonaro. He has drawn numerous comparisons between current US President Donald Trump. Due to this, Brazil has attracted the eyes of the world’s nations, many expressing concern for the country, as they see Bolsonaro as an extremist.

While his election serves as a shocking phenomenon for the rest of the world, it is important to understand the political climate of Brazil and how this came to fruition. It’s also important to look at Bolsonaro’s life and career, as those aspects have shaped his political ideology.

Intrigued by Jair Bolsonaro, Zach Yelich continues to research the new Brazilian president.

Born and raised in Brazil, Bolsonaro developed a deep passion for his country. He joined the Brazilian military in 1977 after graduating from the Agulhas Negras Military Academy. He became a public icon due in part to being briefly detained by police for criticizing the low wages military officers had received. It is important to note that Bolsonaro served under the Brazilian military when the country was still under rule of a military dictatorship, which affected his views of what policies should be implemented. After his time in the military, he started his career in Brazilian politics and eventually worked his way up to becoming a representative for Rio de Janeiro in the Brazilian Chamber of Deputies.

Ever since gaining a spot in public office, his views have largely remained the same. Generally speaking, he is a social conservative who supports free market, closer ties to the United States and Israel, reduced business regulation, lower taxes, less spending, and a stronger military. He is against abortion, homosexuality, and drug legalization.

While his character yields similarities to a typical American conservative or Republican; his views are perceived as largely extremist in the eyes of international community. The most alarming demonstration of his unpredictable nature is when he showed fawning admiration for Brazil’s former military dictatorship, going as far as to say that the military dictatorship “led to a more sustainable and prosperous Brazil.” Obviously, this caused many to raise their eyebrows, as Brazil’s history was quite violent under that state of government.

Stunned by the extreme poverty of Brazil, Seungheon Yoo sits in utter shock.

The election of Bolsonaro demonstrates the economic distress the country is currently forgoing, as they have resorted to this extreme. “The fact that someone could openly support a dictatorship and still get elected speaks volumes of how bad the Brazilian economy has become” Lauren Lawyer, a 12th grader at Grafton High School stated. According to The Rio Times, approximately 50 million Brazilians live below the poverty, which is about 18% of the population. Knowing this, it comes to no surprise that a radical candidate such as Bolsonaro was elected president of the country. As the country remained crippled by a weak economy, Bolsonaro offered extreme change; a free market revolution of sorts, compared to the previous left wing policies put out by Brazil’s past administrations.

Having recently learned about Bolsonaro, Charles Goldstein expresses his views on governing in regards to social policy.

While Bolsonaro’s economic policies such as deregulation and lowering taxes may seem appealing to some, his social views and his implementation of these views make him extremely unpopular. For one, he is a religious extremist, who is openly anti-homosexuality. He has been quoted as saying “I’d rather my son die in a car crash than be gay”, according to USA Today. Even firm religious advocates view his comments as insensitive. “While politicians are more than welcome to have religious views, taking them to THAT extreme should be completely off the table when it comes to governing a large population of people,” said Charles Goldstein, a 12th grader at Lafayette High School. On top of that, Bolsonaro is pro-torture. While the US is known for torturing inmates at Guantanamo Bay, it is still illegal under international law. Due to this, it is expected that Brazil is to come under fire from the international community.

Expressing his views on the Brazilian election, Jarel White converses with reporter Matt Zayas.

“While parallels can be drawn between this election and the 2016 US election, I would say it’s a bit of an overstatement to assume Bolsonaro is similar to Trump. While both are on the right, Bolsonaro is way more open about his extremism on several issues,” said Jarel White, a 12th grader at Lafayette High School. All in all, the coming years for Brazil should be quite interesting, as the world silently observes the extent of which Bolsonaro will propel his ideas.