The Rise of Brazil’s Far Right and What it Shows About Western Democracies

author The Intercept   2 нед. назад

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Brazil’s Eroding Democracy: Rise of Far-Right Demagogue Follows Ouster of Dilma & Jailing of Lula - In a stunning upset that may radically alter the political landscape of Latin America, far-right leader Jair Bolsonaro won 46 percent of the vote in Sunday’s presidential election in Brazil in a far more decisive victory than expected. The former army officer has a long history of making racist, homophobic and misogynistic comments and has openly praised Brazil’s military dictatorship. He will now face Fernando Haddad of the leftist Workers Party in a runoff on October 28. Haddad won 29 percent of the vote Sunday. Many are warning that the future of democracy in Brazil hangs in the balance. We speak with Maria Luísa Mendonça, director of the Network for Social Justice and Human Rights in Brazil, who says Bolsonaro is a “fascist” and that his election would create “a very dangerous situation in Brazil.” Democracy Now! is an independent global news hour that airs weekdays on nearly 1,400 TV and radio stations Monday through Friday. Watch our livestream 8-9AM ET: Please consider supporting independent media by making a donation to Democracy Now! today: FOLLOW DEMOCRACY NOW! ONLINE: Facebook: Twitter: YouTube: SoundCloud: Daily Email: Google+: Instagram: Tumblr: Pinterest: iTunes:!-audio/id73802554 TuneIn: Stitcher Radio:

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RIO DE JANEIRO — On a recent Sunday morning, a few hundred shirtless men wearing camo pants tucked into army boots got together to run in formation down the beach to Copacabana. As they ran, with tourists and Brazilians alike gawking from the sand, they yelled “Cazuca,” the name of a young army sergeant killed in February during an armed robbery in western Rio. Marcelo Soares Corrêa, a retired paratrooper and congressional candidate, led the men — all active or retired members of Brazil’s armed forces — in an anti-communist call-and-response: “Our flag will never be red!” Corrêa is one of nearly 100 military veterans seeking office in Sunday’s national elections in Brazil. Nearly all of them are aligned with Jair Bolsonaro, the ultra-right wing, authoritarian presidential frontrunner famous for a long history of sexist, racist, and homophobic remarks. And like Bolsonaro, military candidates such as Corrêa say their hardline approach is needed to eradicate the twin problems afflicting Brazil: rampant political corruption and violent crime. “The only good criminal is a dead criminal,” Corrêa told VICE News. “If you let the armed forces really get to work, they will completely eliminate the crime that has taken over the country.” This turn toward militarism is raising alarms in a country that emerged only 33 years ago from a military dictatorship notorious for torturing, disappearing, and exiling its opponents. Yet rather than run away from Brazil's ugly past, Bolsonaro and his allies have appropriated it as a symbol of better days. On the campaign trail, these soldiers-turned-politicians routinely and explicitly praise the military regime. Bolsonaro counts as a personal hero Colonel Carlos Brilhante Ustra, who was found by Brazil’s National Truth Commission to have supervised the torture of more than 500 people during military rule. Though Brazil has always had ultra-nationalist hardliners, what makes this year’s election different is that their rhetoric has much broader appeal. “This nostalgia for military order is a response to both political corruption and urban violence,” said Bryan McCann, a historian at Georgetown University. “But it’s completely misplaced. The dictatorship was characterized by widespread corruption, and military enforcement, where it’s been tested within Brazil, has not been a successful constraint on urban violence.” To many observers, Bolsonaro’s rise, whether he prevails in Sunday’s election or not, represents a deeper threat to a democracy made already fragile by a corrupt political establishment. Some even fear an outright military takeover — a possibility that, although unlikely, is not unreasonable: Bolsonaro’s vice-presidential running mate, a retired army general named Antonio Hamilton Mourão, has on at least two occasions said that a coup may be the only solution to Brazil’s problems. In an interview with VICE News, Mourão insisted that he didn’t think a coup was necessary at this moment. But he didn’t discard the possibility. “If the country is the Titanic that’s sinking, will we, the military, behave like the orchestra? Will we start playing and go down with the country?” He said. “I think not.” Subscribe to VICE News here: Check out VICE News for more: Follow VICE News here: Facebook: Twitter: Tumblr: Instagram: More videos from the VICE network:

MOST WESTERN NEWS CONSUMERS are aware that, in Brazil, a far-right presidential candidate, Jair Bolsonaro, came close in Sunday’s national election to winning the 50% of the vote needed to win without a run-off (he received 46.2%), and is now highly likely to prevail on October 28 against his opponent, the liberal Workers’ Party’s Fernando Haddad, who finished a distant second with 29%. That result, by itself, is stunning, given that Bolsonaro is an undiluted, explicit authoritarian in the model of Duterte and Sisi — one could easily say “fascist” even using the narrowest and most most rigorous sense of that term — who had been a fringe figure in politics for decades but is now poised to assume the presidency.

But the consequences of Sunday’s election extend far beyond Bolsonaro’s likely victory. Bolsonaro’s extremist party, and others aligned with his ideology, took over Brazilian politics, winning at all levels, and in most regions, with a wave that was as engulfing as it was unexpected. And what makes all of this particularly remarkable is that it happened in a country that prior to this year – in four consecutive national elections beginning with 2002 — had elected the Workers’ Party led first by a firebrand labor leader (Lula) and then by a former Marxist guerilla who was imprisoned and tortured for taking up arms against the country’s military dictatorship (Dilma). It’s hard to put into words what a profound shift this is for the planet’s fifth most-populous country.

What is happening in Brazil matters not just because it’s a huge country with one of the world’s largest economies and oil reserves, but because the dynamics driving this extremism are similar and linked to the dynamics driving fundamental changes in other western democracies, including the disappearance of the “center” in lieu of a far right (as well as a more progressive but out-of-power left).

What is happening in Brazil and, more importantly, why is all of this happening? How serious of a threat is Bolsonaro’s rise to basic democratic institutions and human rights? And what does all of this tell us about what is happening throughout the democratic world? To explore those questions, Glenn Greenwald spoke (in English) with two Brazilian journalists with The Intercept Brasil, Bruna de Lara and Victor Pougy, and examined all of these issues. The 35-minute discussion provides a clear and illuminating picture of these trends sweeping not just Brazil but all of the democratic world.

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