Brazil’s Jair Bolsonaro is a threat to us all


Years of diplomacy and campaigning including putting together international agreements, ensuring human rights for the most vulnerable, and forging the ground rules to literally save our planet can all be in done with almost a blink of the eye, from a ‘Populist’ demagogue leader such Brazil’s Jair Bolsonaro .

President Bolsonaro, like US President Donald Trump, Prime Minister Viktor Orban in Hungary, President Duterte in the Philippines and Italy’s vice President Matteo Salvini care not one jot about the most vulnerable in their society, or global agreements on climate change and Human Rights. All of these leaders won on a mandate to tear up the diplomatic, global standard rule books, and serve a narrow minority, whilst pandering to the majorities fears. Worse still they explicitly seek to destroy detractors and or the minorities along with their countries natural resources,which in their minds to are to be exploited until they disappear.

In an unprecedented move in modern Brazilian history Bolsonaro, on his first day of his inauguration signed an executive order transferring the regulation and creation of new indigenous reserves to the agriculture ministry – which is controlled by the powerful agribusiness lobby. What does that mean: The very existence of Brazil’s indigenous people and the precious rain forest the whole globe depends upon is now under threat.

In his justification Bolsonaro stated:

More than 15% of national territory is demarcated as indigenous land and quilombos. Less than a million people live in these places, isolated from true Brazil, exploited and manipulated by NGOs. Together we will integrate these citizens,”

The language he uses is truly astonishing and in many ways frightening: The way of life Brazil’s indigenousness people have had for centuries, is in his opinion, not the way they should live-‘they need to be integrated’- and the ‘true Brazil’ is in his view the Brazil of the cities, and the very rich and poor living cheek by jowl.

Having seen this first act of Presidential executive order, Brazil’s 100 million Afro- Brazilians, many of whom represent the poorest in the country often living in the infamous ‘favelas, will now be wondering if they will be the Bolsonaro’s next target. His election campaign rhetoric has been to clamp down on those dealing drugs and in gangs. If, for example, his rhetoric matches the actions of Philippines President Duturte, then we’ll see many thousands of State sponsored extra- judicial killings.

These are worrying times in Brazil for those who don’t fit the narrow Caucasian mode. But the broader reality is that literally their problem is very much our problem too.

Simon Woolley