Jair Bolsonaro: Brazil’s New Strongman 

 

  1. Jair was born on March 21, 1955 to Percy Geraldo Bolsonaro and Olinda Bonturi in Sao Paulo, Brazil where he spent most of his childhood. His great grandparents were Italian immigrants who came to Brazil in the late 1800s. 
  2. He went to a prep military school during his later years of high school, and then went on to the Academia Militar das Agulhas Negras military academy. He graduated in 1977 and became a paratrooper soon after. His anti-establishment stances appeared early on when, in 1986, he gave an interview with Veja magazine stating that recent firings of officers were not, as the military higher ups claimed, because of punishable behaviour. Rather, the dismissals and the salary cuts were due to budget cuts on the military. Despite the interview, he was not discharged for subordination or misconduct, and became popular figure for officers and their families. 
  3. Bolosanro has been elected to Brazilian congress in 1991 and has been there ever since. He had a rather mediocre political career thus far having only successfully introduced two proposals which became law. Moreover, having been a former military man most of his proposals represented military officer interests.  Nevertheless, most what put him into headlines were his controversial comments. 
  4. He has made several statements expressing nostalgia for Brazil’s past under military rule, and has expressed distaste for democracy. In 1992 he said, “I am in favour of a dictatorship … We will never resolve serious national problems with this irresponsible democracy.”
  5. He has also stated some misogynistic views, once claiming that having daughters rather than sons was “a sign of weakness”. On the fact that his youngest child is a girl, he said: “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.”  In 2014 he said in an interview that he would not rape fellow congresswoman Maria do Rosario, because she was not “worth raping; she is very ugly”. Earlier that year, the two had an altercation as he shouted at do Rosario as she was leaving parliament: “Stay here, Maria do Rosário. Stay! A while ago, you called me a rapist in the Green Room and I said: ‘I won’t rape you because you’re not worth it.’ Stay here. Listen!”
  6. He has also made racist remarks, saying that he raised his sons to be sensible enough not to date a black woman. He has also called descendants of former black slaves as lazy and good for nothing, not even for procreating. 
  7. Throughout his career he joined many parties, most recently he joined the right wing Social Liberal Party (PSL), which started as a fringe party but eventually held the second largest majority in the lower chamber of congress. 
  8. He ran in the 2018 presidential election, successfully making it to the second round against the Workers’ Party candidate Fernando Haddad, who was given the endorsement of former Workers’ leader and Brazilian president Lula, who could not run due to his imprisonment. 
  9. Bolasaro ran on promises of liberalising the Brazilian economy reversing many of Lula’s policies. He also promised to restore law and order in Brazil which is facing a high crime rate. He also stated that he would introduce looser gun laws, as to allow “good people” to own guns as a way of combating crime. He has also promised to rid the country of “socialism” and “political correctness”, having targeted university professors in speeches and interviews. 
  10. About a month before the run off round in the elections, Bolosaro was stabbed in the stomach in an election rally. Although he was already doing well in polls, his near death experience helped him gain more popularity among the Brazilian public.
  11. Come October, Bolosaro emerged the victor in the presidential race having won 55.2 per cent of the vote.
  12. On January 1, 2019 he was inaugurated as president, after which US President Trump congratulated him on Twitter. With his controversial past, Bolosaro will need to make more friends abroad, lest Brazil will find itself more isolated than ever before. 

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