Brazil, it is time to wake up from your Bolsonaro nightmare

Opinion Oct, 2 2022
Brazil, it is time to wake up from your Bolsonaro nightmare
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In the aftermath of Brazil’s last general election in 2018, the Wall Street Journal’s editorial page celebrated the victory of Jair Bolsonaro – a former low-ranking army officer, far-right fringe politician, and fan of Brazil’s sadistic military dictatorship from 1964 to 1985.

According to one bizarre article by the right-wing writer Mary Anastasia O’Grady, there was a simple explanation for the electoral triumph of the man that many analysts had compared with the then-president of the United States, Donald Trump. Despite the fact that Bolsonaro had been “labeled a racist, a misogynist, a homophobe, a fascist, an advocate of torture and an aspiring dictator”, he had prevailed, the piece argued, because Brazilians were “in the midst of a national awakening in which socialism – the alternative to a Bolsonaro presidency – has been put on trial”.

While a socialist presidency certainly beats fascist torture any day, “socialism” was in truth not even in the running in 2018. The Brazilian Workers’ Party (PT) – whose candidate Bolsonaro defeated – is not socialist but rather centre-left, and has furthermore done its fair share to advance neoliberal capitalist interests over the years. Granted, the PT has also committed such flagrantly leftist crimes as helping to extricate millions of Brazilians from poverty and hunger, as transpired during the first decade of this century under President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva.

Now, it’s election time again in South America’s largest country – and folks may be in for another “awakening”. As Brazil votes tomorrow, Lula is back in the race, and is leading Bolsonaro in the polls (although, as Bloomberg reports, Goldman Sachs and concerned hedge funds have assured clients the election will be “tighter” than surveys suggest).

Of course, Bolsonaro’s disdain for democracy means that he won’t necessarily accept a Lula win on October 2 – or, in an October 30 run-off, which would be required if no candidate secures half of the votes cast. Nor must one underestimate the power of social media disinformation – a veritable scourge in Brazil – in rallying Bolsonaro voters.

It bears recalling that, in 2018, the election of Bolsonaro – who would go on to suggest that coronavirus vaccines could turn people into crocodiles and make women grow beards – was significantly facilitated by an obsessive right-wing campaign to demonise and criminalise the PT under the guise of “anti-corruption”. Before Lula himself was imprisoned in April 2018 – on trumped-up charges produced by that same campaign – he had been the favourite to win that year’s presidential race.

Published in The Daily National Courier, October, 03 2022

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