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Brazil’s new president is a far-right figurehead and ex-paratrooper known for lashing out at women, minorities, and indigenous groups
Jair Bolsonaro is a deeply polarising figure who rose from political irrelevance – and survived a near-fatal eve-of-election assassination attempt – to become the leader of Latin America’s biggest economy in little more than two years.
He has praised Pinochet, expressed support for torturers and called for political opponents to be shot, earning him the label of “the most misogynistic, hateful elected official in the democratic world”.
But he built a successful campaign on fear over rising violent crime, anger over repeated corruption scandals and an efficient social media operation.
“To his supporters Bolsonaro represents law and order and that’s a very compelling message in a country with 60,000 homicides a year and the biggest corruption scandal ever detected anywhere,” Brian Winter, the editor-in-chief of Americas Quarterly, told the Guardian earlier this year.
Born in Glicério in São Paulo in 1955 to parents of Italian descent, he served in the army from 1971 until 1988, when he was elected as a city councillor in Rio de Janeiro for the Christian Democratic party. In 1990, he became a federal congressman for the same party. He has since been affiliated with a number of political parties. On 22 July, he was officially nominated as the presidential candidate of the Social Liberal party.
Bolsonaro espouses populist and nationalist views that often stray into far-right territory. A vocal opponent of same-sex marriage, abortion, immigration and other progressive causes, he has defended the death penalty and the 1964-85 military dictatorship. On foreign policy, he has said he wants to improve relations with the US. Economically he says he is pro free market and privatisation.
Deliberately provocative and polarising. He has praised Gen Pinochet, expressed support for torturers and called for political opponents to be shot, earning him the label of "the most misogynistic, hateful elected official in the democratic world”. In his bid to capitalise on Latin America’s lurch to the right, he paints himself as a tropical Donald Trump: a pro-gun, anti-establishment crusader set on "draining the swamp" and cracking down on violent crime.
On top of repeated calls for a return to dictatorship, he has made equally inflammatory attacks on women, black people, gay people, foreigners and indigenous communities. Earlier this year, he was charged by the attorney general with inciting hate speech.
Support and first round victory
Bolsonaro has a devout following among some conservative voters, who admire his promises to get tough on rampant violent crime, and won 46% of the vote in the election's first round.
Bolsonaro speaks nostalgically about the country’s 1964-1985 military dictatorship and has promised to fill his government with current and former military leaders.
Bolsonaro has been a congressman since 1991, although he has only presented two proposals which became law, and was best known for his offensive and incendiary remarks.
Despite a three-decade career in politics, the former paratrooper successfully cast himself as an outsider ready to upend the establishment and drain the swamp of a political class which has proven to be riddled with systemic corruption.
Brazil’s economy is only beginning to emerge from a catastrophic recession, while scores of politicians from all of the country’s main parties have been investigated for trading public contracts for bribes and kickbacks.
“Donald Trump got elected saying that crime in the inner cities was out of control, that the economy was a disaster and that the entire political class was corrupt … All three of those things are indisputably true in Brazil,” said Winter.
Bolsonaro is widely loathed by political opponents for his inflammatory attacks on women, black people, gay people, foreigners and indigenous communities, for which he was fined and even faced charges of inciting hate speech.
In 2015 he was ordered to pay compensation to a fellow member of congress for saying that she wasn’t “worth raping”.
A month before the election’s first round Bolsonaro was attacked during a campaign event. He survived the near-fatal stabbing, and continued to campaign from his hospital bed, firing off barrages of tweets and making daily broadcasts to his five million Facebook followers and 900,000 Youtube subscribers.
“God willing, from next year we will, together, change the destiny of Brazil,” he said in one recent pronouncement.
Here are some of the most offensive and controversial declarations made by Jair Bolsonaro:
“The scum of the earth is showing up in Brazil, as if we didn’t have enough problems of our own to sort out.” (September 2015)
On gay people:
“I would be incapable of loving a homosexual son. I’m not going to be a hypocrite: I’d rather my son died in an accident than showed up with some bloke with a moustache.” (June 2011)
“I won’t fight it or discriminate, but if I see two men kissing each other in the street, I’ll whack them.” (October 2002)
“We Brazilians don’t like homosexuals.” (2013)
“Are [gays] demigods? ... Just because someone has sex with his excretory organ, it doesn’t make him better than anyone else.” (February 2014)
On democracy and dictatorship:
“You’ll never change anything in this country through voting. Nothing. Absolutely nothing. Unfortunately, things will only change when a civil war kicks off and we do the work the [military] regime didn’t. Killing some 30,000 …. Killing them! If a couple of innocents die, that’s OK.” (May 1999)
“I am in favour of a dictatorship … We will never resolve serious national problems with this irresponsible democracy.” (1992)
On human rights:
“I’m in favour of torture.” (May 1999)
“Brazilian prisons are wonderful places ... they’re places for people to pay for their sins, not live the life of Reilly in a spa. Those who rape, kidnap and kill are going there to suffer, not attend a holiday camp.” (February 2014)
“Are we obliged to give these bastards [criminals] a good life? They spend their whole lives fucking us and those of us who work have to give them a good life in prison. They should fuck themselves, full stop. That’s it, dammit!” (February 2014)
“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.” (April, 2017)
“I said I wouldn’t rape you because you don’t deserve it.” (December 2014, to politician Maria do Rosário, repeating a comment first made to her in 2003).
“I don’t run the risk [of seeing my children date black women or being gay]. My children were very well raised.” (March 2011)
“I went to visit a quilombo [a settlement founded by the descendants of runaway slaves]. The lightest afrodescendant there weighed seven arrobas [more than 100kg]. They don’t do anything. I don’t think they’re even good for procreating anymore.” (April 2017)