The Trump of the Tropics

Written by: Julie Schneiberg

Jair Bolsonaro―a far-right politician―has flipped the country of Brazil after 13 years of left leadership, winning the presidential election that took place in late October. Bolsonaro’s opponent, Fernando Haddad of Brazil’s Workers Party, was the former mayor of São Paulo. The party experienced major corruption scandals in 2016. Bolsonaro’s campaign mirrored his authoritarian, racist, misogynist, and anti-press viewpoints. His supporters either condone these views or find them easy to ignore, and they hope his law and order tactics can salvage Brazil from its high crime rates and economic corruption. However, there has been an outcry from his country’s citizens to human and social rights activists. His ultra-conservative stance on policy may have detrimental effects for not only Brazilians but also the rest of the world.

Bolsonaro has been compared to US president, Donald Trump, earning him the title of “the tropical Trump.” So, where are these comparisons drawn from? For starters, both politicians are categorized as far-right and have campaigns to match boasting similar beliefs and desire to change certain policies. They both seem to ignore scientific evidence of climate change. One of president Trump’s more popular tweets, posted in 2012 stated: “The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive.” Not prioritizing the environment proves a major threat to one of Brazil’s biggest assets, the Amazon rainforest. Bolsonaro favors abolishing policies that protect the land and supports deforestation for economic profit. Last year, Bolsonaro was quoted saying, “Where there is indigenous land, there is wealth underneath it.” This is problematic for a number of reasons. According to the Global Forest Watch, Brazil’s part of the Amazon has shrunk by 91,890 miles between 2006 and 2017, an area larger than the United State’s northeastern region. The deforestation of the Amazon, which absorbs much of the world’s carbon dioxide (CO2), could make it certain that Brazil would not meet its environmental goals set in 2009 if deforestation continues at this rate. As the Amazon shrinks, so does its ability to absorb CO2, which currently is responsible for 64% of man-made global warming. Not only is Brazil affected by deforestation of the Amazon, but so is the rest of the world. Continuing to decrease the forest’s land mass will decrease the amount of CO2 that it can absorb, leaving it to remain in the atmosphere. Bolsonaro has no intention of protecting the Amazon and seeks to exploit it, which will have internationally scaled consequences.

Jair Bolsonaro, however, certainly beats Donald Trump when it comes to hate speech. Though Trump has received a lot of criticism for numerous statements he has made, the Brazilian president’s comments on human rights, race, homosexuality, and women definitely take the cake. In fact, Bonsolaro has been tried before the court for telling a fellow congress member that she was not worthy of being raped.  He is not shy to share his views on homosexuality; Bolsonaro claimed he would, “prefer his son die in an accident than show up with some dude with a mustache.” In 2017, Bolsonaro was quoted saying “I’ve got five kids. Four of them are men, but on the fifth, I had a moment of weakness and it came out a woman.”  The list of heinous remarks goes on and on, putting Donald Trump to shame. He is hateful for a man who seems to prioritize religion.

Bolsonaro, following Trump’s lead, has made it one of his first priorities as president to move the Brazilian embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. While this may seem harmless, the move sends a religious message to the citizens of Brazil, whose religious freedoms are protected under the Brazilian constitution. Much like the U.S. decision, putting in deliberate efforts to move the embassy to the holy city of one religion shows favoritism, which is problematic in a secular state. 
While Jair Bolsonaro and Donald Trump share several similarities, calling Bolsonaro the “Trump of the tropics” may be too generous. Both politicians enjoy stirring up media frenzies and nationalistic attitudes. However, Bolsonaro goes a step further. Hopefully, the president of Brazil will take a different approach upon his inauguration than he has thus far in his domestic and professional life.