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Presidential election results in fear for Brazilians

by Breonnah Colón - Editor-in-Chief
Thu, Nov 8th 2018 07:00 pm
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For the United States, the presidential elections are almost two years old and although some of us may not agree with or like the outcome, we have learned to, more or less, live with our new president. However, it seems we are not the only country in the world that has had a controversial figure lead the nation. Brazil recently held its 2018 Presidential elections, putting the country in the exact same place as the United States just a couple of years ago. 

On Sunday, Oct. 28, Brazilians took to the streets to show support or despair over their newly elected president: Jair Messias Bolsonaro. The election was a close one, with Bolsonaro only leading his opponent, Fernando Haddad, with 55 percent of the vote. While the victory may have been slight, the presence of Bolsonaro in office has been anything but.

A controversial figure to say the least, Bolsonaro definitely has left a bitter taste in some mouths. Once a military officer, he became interested in politics and joined Brazil’s Social Liberal Party. He ran for a position in congress in 1990 and has maintained a seat ever since. Bolsonaro is known for being a strong conservative and nationalist, often referencing Brazil’s 20 year long dictatorship as a time of great progress. 

From 1964 until 1985, Brazil was controlled by an authoritarian government put in place by its own military. The Oxford Research Encyclopedias explained, this coup allowed strict laws and regulations, such as limiting the information published by newspapers, to be implemented throughout the country. 

Beyond merely enforcing stricter laws, the government, which leaned toward more conservative practices, also began to limit and even “suppress” liberal social groups and movements. Bolsonaro has voiced support for these ations among others, frequently expressing support for torture methods. He’s also threatened to either jail or force into exile all of his political opponents upon winning the seat. Beyond punishing his opponents, Bolsonaro has also promised to develop the Amazon rainforest, which has stirred controversy, especially for environmentalists and human rights activists, who argue this could have a negative impact on indigenous tribes residing in the area. 

Much like what took place in the United States, most Brazilians did not truly expect Bolsonaro to win. Most expected the country’s former president, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva to run and win the elections once more. However, da Silva was involved in and jailed for a corruption scandal. Despite the charges against him da Silva’s supporters did not falter in backing him, but he was formally removed as a presidential candidate. This absence was what allowed for Bolsonaro to step out and gain the immense support which eventually won him the position.

While Bolsonaro’s election is seen as problematic by many, it certainly isn’t a surprise. This election period has been one full of scandal, drama, and extremism. Weeks before his election, Bolsonaro was stabbed in the stomach at a public rally. While the assault took him away from the campaign scene for some time, it also secured his position among Brazilians according to CNN

The situation increased his popularity, especially across social media platforms where the hashtag, translated in english  as #nothim, went viral both nationally and internationally. 

The New York Times called this election the “most radical political change” in more than 30 years, since the country restored its democracy following its dictatorship. Needless to say, the political climate in Brazil is one of tension and, to a certain extent, fear. The situations we face in our own country are very different from those faced abroad, these similarities are all the more reason to be informed about the happenings taking place in the other America.


stylus@brockport.edu | @b_co___ 

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