I attended an academic event that discussed the recent presidential election in Brazil. An extreme shift in Brazilian politics occurred on October 7, 2018. Jair Bolsonaro, a far right presidential candidate, was elected, will be inaugurated on January 1st, 2019. This was an surprising result considering that Brazil is a democratic country. Bolsonaro has defended dictatorship in the past and has denigrated women and minorities. The way he was able to win people over was by promising to oppress the frequent violent crimes in the country. But the way he plans on accomplishing this can be controversial. He wants to give the police more power to decrease the crime rate in the country. Even though this might seem like a good idea on the surface, giving police more power can be extremely dangerous especially since the police has enough power in Brazil. He states that police should be able to kill criminals without facing prosecution. This will potentially threaten the people by increasing the rate of police violence, which is already high in the country.
Bolsonaro is often compared to Donald Trump not only because of his sexist and racist remarks, but also because of his campaign and use of social media. He promises to “make Brazil great.” He is pushed against environmental regulations just like Trump critiques the landmark Paris climate accord. Bolsonaro plans on lowering taxes and privatizing the state companies. One of the things I found interesting is how the Brazilian citizens’ reaction to Bolsonaro aligned with US citizen’s reaction to Trump. Since what he offers is extremely different from other candidates, the Brazilian citizens seem attracted to his radical platform.
One topic discussed for a significant amount of time was his economic policies. Bolsonaro favors neoliberal approach when it comes to Brazil’s economy. His approach displays extensive liberalism never seen in the country before. I’m skeptical of his policies, however, since they seem to focus solely on the economic development, which does not necessarily mean socioeconomic development. The way everyone has to pay the same level of tax, whether you are poor or wealthy, seems extremely unfair since the poorer people will pay higher percentage of their income when the wealthy will pay only a small portion of their income.
Another topic discussed during the event was Bolsonaro’s plan on exploiting the amazon rainforest for oil. After doing further research on my own, I think this is less of an issue among his policies because he has more serious issues to face like the crime rate, economic failure, securing his policitical stability, etc. However, it is something that will be a problem later in his presidency if he decides to proceed with his plan to harvest the amazon’s riches. His pledge to rollback the protecting on the rain forest and indigenous rights set off an alarm among environmentalists and indigenous communities.
Overall, Brazil’s new presidential-elect could tremendously affect not only Brazil but also the global community. No one knows if the effects will be positive or negative yet, but the most people seem to fear that they will be harmful. I wasn’t even aware of the presidential election in Brazil until I attended this event. From this, I gained a deeper understanding not only of Bolsonaro’s policies but also the political, economic, and social status in Brazil. I also learned a lot from the further research I did on the changes the recent election will bring and the concerns regarding these changes.