Correspondent covering Latin America, Venezuela, Argentina, Brazil, Human Rights, Poverty, Globalization and Economy
Presidential candidate Jair Bolsonaro, of Brazil's High Social Liberal Party, talks at a press conference in Rio de Janeiro on…
Brazilians vote Sunday in one Presidential elections caught global attention largely because of a man: Jair Bolsonaro. The 63-year-old right-right Army captain won a first round earlier this month and he maintains a double-digit lead over his left rival Fernando Haddad in polls on Sunday’s runoff.
Known for bombastic twigs that suppress women, gay people and people of color, Bolsonaro has been condemned by everyone from Madonna to former Brazilian president Fernando Henrique Cardoso.
But what are Bolsonaro’s opinions about the main issues confronting Brazil? Here he looks at his attitude in four key areas: Environment, Economy, Crime and Democracy.
Environmentalists breathed peace this week when Bolsonaro relied on its past threats to follow in the footsteps of President Trump and pull Brazil out of the global Paris agreement to combat climate change as long as Brazil retains sovereignty over country of origin and rainforest. He has also re-examined his original promise to eliminate Brazil’s Environment Ministry. But that does not mean that Bolsonaro has suddenly become Lorax.
Bolsonaro is a powerful supporter of the agricultural industry – one of the pillars of its political platform – and is likely to favor profits during conservation. He has called for a new pro-business strategy to exploit Brazil’s natural resources and insist that exaggerated bureaucrats have harassed farmers to just try to live by chopping out jungle floods.
Brazil is the guardian of the world’s largest rain forest, in the Amazon basin. But Bolsonaro has chafed at foreign pressures to protect it, and he served to international non-profit groups such as the World Wildlife Fund that he does not tolerate his agendas in Brazil. He has also come out strongly against countries reserved for native tribes. Bolsonaro adviser also says he plans to expand nuclear power and hydroelectric power in the Amazon.
Critics fear that all of this is a way of explaining a big green rush – opening the already threatened Amazon region into a potential freedom for all financial interests.
“I really do not understand much about the economy,” Bolsonaro once acknowledged. Bolsonaro has detailed his economic platform more than any other of his policies.
At the beginning of his political career, Bolsonaro was seen by many as a protestist protectionist. He voted with the Left Labor Party against privatization of the oil and telecom industry. He promised even the early prostitution of Venezuela’s former left fire, Hugo Chávez – the late regional leader says he falsified.
Later, Bolsonaro tells us to have taken a deep shift in favor of the free market – promising what may be a deep dive into capitalism. He has lost the University of Chicago-educated economist Paulo Guedes as his economic czar. Guedes, a constant disciple of economic liberalism, must convince the market that his views will prevail if Bolsonaro is to be chosen. Knowing that Guedes was going to control the economy made investors much more willing to take the chance at Bolsonaro.
“He is listening to me when it comes to politics, I listen to him in terms of economy,” said Bolsonaro of Guedes. “We’re dating.”
Guedes has said that he wants to privatize or close government companies, reduce public spending, facilitate international trade and send restraint reforms. Investors swooning, but if Bolsonaro can actually deliver on these shattering promises will depend on the strength of the coalition that he can build in the national congress.
Some worry that the Bolsonaro-Guedes match will not last, and that Guider can leave – or Bolsonaro may deport him – before he can make meaningful reform.
“A policy that does not kill is no police,” said Bolsonaro last year. What largely encompasses Bolsonaro’s view of law enforcement.
Brazil is undoubtedly in the midst of a horrific wave of crime, which is largely driven by the ganggreen for commercial rights to sell drugs and other smuggling in Brazilian cities. Homicides hit record high 63,880 last year – almost twice as many in the United States and the EU combined.
Bolsonaro’s solution is zero tolerance. He has called on the police to use more deadly power and wants to relax pistol ages so that citizens can defend themselves. He has previously defended the use of police torture on drug trafficking and kidnappers.
But Brazil already has one of the deadliest police forces in the world, responsible for more than 5,000 deaths last year, according to government figures. Experts warn that Bolsonaro’s difficult platform can make life worse for many people in color.
“There is no reason for proof that what he proposes will work,” says Ilona Szabó, head of the Igarapé Institute, a tanker in Rio de Janeiro focusing on security issues. “The issues will get worse. Police will kill more. There will be more extrajudicial killings, especially for people in slum and black.”
Bolsonaro, a former army officer, has a long history of bombastic statements promising the military dictatorship that ruled Brazil 1964-1985, which killed and disappeared at least 434 dissidents. In the post dictatorship, a time when most Brazilian politicians had turned history and rarely talked about the regime, Bolsonaro demanded a military coup. In 1999, when he was in Congress, he completely dismissed democracy and demanded the murder of the President, Fernando Henrique Cardoso.
“By voting nothing will change in this country, nothing, absolutely nothing. It will only change, unfortunately, the day when a civil war breaks out here and does the job that the military regime did not do. Kills about 30,000, starting with Fernando Henrique Cardoso, we can not leave him, no, says Bolsonaro in a public television interview in 1999. “Innocent people will die, okay, but in every war, innocent people die.”  Bolsonaro has since gone back some of his most anti-democratic statements and tells reporters in May that he has a “total commitment to democracy” and signs a statement this month claiming that he will maintain freedom of speech and the press if he should be elected. Still, the questions remain on his commitment to liberal democracy and human rights and press freedom – he has threatened to, for example, reduce government funding for Globo and Folha, two of the largest media in B
Bolsonaro’s son, Congressman Eduardo Bolsonaro, has suggested that “soldiers” could intervene if the Supreme Court tried to remove Bolsonaro from his presidency if he was elected. However, Bolsonaro chided his son to the comment, which he called “absurd”.