Jair Bolsonaro


Jair Bolosonaro was inaugurated into the highest office in Brazil on October 28, 2018. He was elected in a landslide, as he got 55.1% of the popular vote against his opponent Fernando Haddad. Bolsonaro became president in a tumultuous time in Brazilian history, the government had been rocked by corruption scandals and the economy was in a state of turmoil. However, Bolsonaro has not been the change that Brazil needs to uplift its economy and state of politics. In fact, he is the antithesis of what Brazil and South America need—as a continent that has been showcasing and reaping the benefits of state-induced socialism. His election platform ran on promises of crackdowns on crime and corruption and a longing for a more powerful military, a campaign reminiscent of other hardline leaders like Robert Duterte in the Philippines. Bolsonaro has even been dubbed “the Brazilian Trump” by others (BBC, 2018).

“The Brazilian Trump”

His far-right tendencies and controversial opinions have been present throughout his career as a public official. When he served as a congressman he was passionate about issues like protecting the rights of citizens to carry firearms and was still tough on crime saying that “A policeman who doesn’t kill is not a policeman.” He has also made some racist statements about the indigenous Brazilian population and Quilombos, who are of Afro-Brazilian descent essentially saying that both ethnic groups were lazy (Aljazeera, 2018).

(Brazil Magazine)

Not only does Bolsonaro hold frightening beliefs, but he also strangely  reminisces the military dictatorship of Brazil’s past, even going as far to call it “glorious.” Unfortunately, he has even gone so far as to attempt to rewrite the history around the beginning of the 1964 coup, wherein a military dictatorship was established. While internationally it has been recognized that in 1964 Joao Goulart was forcibly removed in a coup d’etat to be replaced with a 21-year- military dictatorship, the Bolsonaro administration is claiming that military rule was a “democratic regime of force”, according to the Independent (The Independent, 2019). Furthermore, Bolsonaro himself reversed an eight-year ban on celebrating the military coup, allowing a minority of Brazilians to honor it. Building on to that, Brazil’s education minister Ricardo Velez is attempting to change schoolchildren’s textbooks to convey the true idea of Brazilian history during this time period.

(Al Jazeera)

Bolsonaro’s loving sentiments about Brazil’s military dictatorship of the past is unsettling, and elements of it are seeming it repeat itself in his administration. Plenty of Brazilians still remember this period in time very clearly, one such man is Jose Carlos Giannini who spent nearly a decade in jail due to the fact that he belonged to the National Liberation Action, a communists guerilla group, and can still recall of savag tortue sessions of perceived leftists. Even though Bolsonaro is verbally denying plans to lead Brazil back into a military dictatorship, he does explicitly state that “what Brazil needs is a government with authority but without authoritarianism”(Guardian, 2018). However, taking into consideration his overtly racist comments, and his alarming nostalgia for the military dictatorship, it’s hard to believe that the future of his administration is one that will be a model for democracy and the rights of people. Instead, it seems as if it will continue on the path that it is on with remnants of the military dictatorship as its defining element.

Author: Hanna Pham

Hanna Pham is currently a senior and this is her first year working for The Eye. This is her third year living Singapore, having lived previously in the US, Indonesia, and Japan. In her free time, she can be found binge-watching Narcos, making guacamole, or labelling her stuff. She can be contacted at pham49117@sas.edu.sg.

One thought

  1. Hello,

    My name is Felipe Jank, I am a senior originally from Brazil. Firstly, congratulations on the article, it is very interesting indeed.

    I voted for Bolsonaro on the 2018 election (on the second round only). And although I must say I’m not his biggest fan (João Amoedo for the win), I feel like I should share a couple of details that might’ve not been widely publicized by the international media.

    You say that Latin America is “a continent that has been showcasing and reaping the benefits of state-induced socialism.” Most Latinos would disagree with you here, as shown by the fact that Chile, Argentina, Peru, Paraguay, Ecuador, Colombia, and Brazil have all elected right-wing governments (only Uruguay, Bolivia and Venezuela remain as left-wing). So clearly most Latinos are not happy with their former Socialist governments (PT, Brazil’s socialist party, is outright hated and two of their former presidents are currently jailed).

    Although I (and most Brazilians) do not deny that the Military Dictatorship was indeed a coup d’etat, it was WIDELY supported by many sectors of society (see “March with the Family for God and Liberty”). João Goulart had fled Brazilia (the Capital) and the presidency had been declared vacant by Congress on the 31st of March 1964. And the first military President, Humberto Castelo Branco, was (indirectly) elected by the National Congress a few days later on April 11. It was a coup, but a widely supported one including by many elected politicians. Bolsonaro is then seeking to show all sides of this event, not just the ideologically-bent one currently presented in schools/universities.

    Furthermore, Ricardo Velez has not been the Minister of Education since April 8th, 2019, when he was substituted by Abraham Weintraub. This was largely due to Bolsonaro himself recognizing that Velez was very “ideological” and “not efficient”.

    Furthermore, you say: “Jose Carlos Giannini who spent nearly a decade in jail due to the fact that he belonged to the National Liberation Action, a communists guerilla group, and can still recall of savag tortue [sic] sessions of perceived leftists.”

    I don’t know about this man specifically, but the National Liberation Action (know in Portuguese as the ALN) and its leader Carlos Marighella have been proven to have participated in terrorism, robberies and kidnapping activities. As they stated in their recruiting brochure:

    “We are all guerrillas, terrorists, and assailants, not men who depend on the votes of other revolutionaries or anyone else to carry out the duty of revolution. Democratic centralism does not apply to revolutionary organizations such as ours.”


    Furthermore Marighella’s manifesto, the Minimanual do Guerrilheiro Urbano, openly advocated for bombings and the target of civilians to overthrow the dictatorship. He has also been proved to have orchestrated the kidnapping of Charles Burke Elbrick, the American ambassador.

    Again, congratulations on the article, it is well written and insightful about Jair Bolsonaro and his policies.



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