September 15, 2018

WHEN CRIME BECOMES THE MOST IMPORTANT ISSUE:

'He's not perfect': why do so many Brazilians support rightwinger Jair Bolsonaro?: Although many are revolted by his racist, sexist and homophobic comments, his Trump-like his simple solutions attract plenty of admirers (Dom Phillips, 14 Sep 2018, The Guardian)

Bolsonaro has not gone that far, but he has praised dictatorship-era torturers, proposed that police should been given immunity to kill criminals and called for chemical castration of rapists.

And such suggestions do resonate with voters desperate for an end to Brazil's soaring murder rate.

After an evening service at the Assembly of God Victory in Christ evangelical church in Rio's working-class Penha neighbourhood, many churchgoers expressed support for Bolsonaro's focus on law and order.

"Public security should be put first. It is an embarrassment," said Sandra Conçeião dos Santos, 44, an unemployed kitchen assistant.

Anderson Valentim, 41, a Rio police sergeant, said members of the city's dispirited and underfunded police force - as well as firefighters and the military - will overwhelmingly vote for Bolsonaro. "We have to have support to work," he said. "People want a change, an alternative in power."

Valentim was unconcerned by Bolsonaro's praise for the military dictatorship which ruled Brazil from 1964 to 1985, repeating a common argument that the regime saved the country from the threat posed armed leftists - although historians agree that Brazil's guerrilla groups never came close to taking power.

"At that time it was war," said Valentim. "The guerrillas committed excesses as well."

On Tuesday, Brazil's supreme court voted to drop charges of inciting racism against Bolsonaro, although a separate accusation of inciting rape has yet to come to court.

But unlike roughly half of the congress who face investigations for serious crimes, Bolsonaro has never been charged with corruption.

And despite 28 years as a deputy in Brazil's lower house, he presents himself as a political outsider, raging against the leftwing Workers' party for its involvement in a string of graft scandals - and vowing to drain Brasília's swamp.

Evangelical Christian women at the church approved of Bolsonaro's attacks on the so-called "gay kit" - a package of educational material tackling homophobia that the government of Dilma Rousseff tried to introduce in 2011.

"I won't say he is perfect, but he is most aligned with family values," said Renata Santana, 44, an educational psychologist.

Other supporters are attracted by his promise of simple solutions to Brazil's worst-ever recession.

"There are no jobs, and this is because of socialist policies that stopped business people taking projects forward," said Rose Limeira, 32, a private school teacher in São Paulo. "People can't afford to employ anyone because they pay so much to the government."

His manifesto promises to transform a $33bn deficit into a surplus by 2020 while cutting taxes, a pledge which has been rubbished by economists - not least because next year's budget has already been approved in congress.

Bolsonaro admits that he understands little about economics and says he will defer to the pro-market policies of his adviser Paulo Guedes, prompting some powerful businessmen to announce support.

Corruption and crime dominate dramatic Brazilian election campaign (CHANDRAHAS CHOUDHURY, September 11, 2018, Arab News)
 
A study released earlier this year shows that violence in Brazil costs the world's eighth-largest economy more than 4 percent of its gross domestic product. Last weekend, it nearly cost the country a presidential candidate. Jair Bolsonaro, the leading contender ahead of next month's election, was stabbed during a rally in the southeastern state of Minas Gerais and seriously injured. [...]

All this comes on the back of four years of political chaos, with Dilma Rousseff, Lula's successor, being impeached (also for corruption) and her unelected and unpopular successor Michel Temer then also becoming embroiled in a corruption scandal.

At least this sordid history of sleaze and graft provides a context for the rise of a politician as unreconstructed as Bolsonaro. He is a former army man whose meteoric rise has come despite -- or perhaps because of -- a history of derisive remarks about women, minorities and homosexuals. He presents himself as an outsider who will flush out corruption and crack down on crime, and he has a giant following on social media. 

Posted by at September 15, 2018 5:47 PM

  

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