Jair Bolsonaro [the leader in the race to be president of Brazil] is known as the man of three Bs. B for Bala, the army bullets. Jair Bolsonaro was trained in a Brazilian military school during the dictatorship. He came into politics through campaigning to increase officers’ salaries.
In 2016, he dedicated the vote he cast in parliament in favour of impeaching Dilma Rousseff, Brazil’s elected president standing in for Lula (Workers’ Party, PT), to the recently deceased colonel Ustra, who had tortured Dilma Roussef as a young guerrilla. According to Jair Bolsonaro this is ethical, the way the world should be.
B for Boi, the cattle belonging to ruralistas, the big landowners destroying the rainforest, firing at the peasants who claim land, spilling their agro-fuels. For them, Bolsonaro’s election would signal a green light to full impunity. In other words, they could tell their henchmen to fire at will.
He recently said: “We are going to give our rifles to rural producers, it will be their calling card against the invaders”. It should be noted that those he deems invaders are the real rural producers; that those he calls producers are the destroyers of the land, and already have rifles.
B for Biblia, that of the “evangelists”. The evangelical Church of the Assembly of God and that of the Pentecostalists of the Christian Congregation of Brazil and of the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God.
All are with the angels when they hear Bolsonaro say “I’d rather my son was dead than gay”, and other similar remarks. Although himself a Catholic, Jair Bolsonaro has become the idol of these evangelical and pentecostalist churches, who have gained momentum and dominance over the last few years.
Jair Bolsonaro, who boasts of having no ideology, vindicates three models of masculinity in politics: Donald Trump, Rodrigo Duterte, the Filipino president leading a brutal war on “delinquent” teenagers, and the man whose name is a plan for action: Augusto Pinochet. It is difficult to say if Bolsonaro is as stupid as Trump or, more likely, his boundless cynicism explains each of his remarks.
In the course of 2018, Bolsonaro rose to second place in the polls behind Lula, if Lula had been able to stand, and then first overall for Brazilian presidency. His stabbing on 6 September further boosted his support and his accession to the presidency of the United States of Brazil, South America’s largest state, seems like a likely danger.
Millions of protestors took to the streets of Brazil on Sunday 29 September. It was the day Bolsonaro left hospital, and therefore his official return to the scene. These protests rallied thousands of militant trade unionists and left-wingers who, since the acceptance of Rousseff’s impeachment and Lula’s invalidation, have been like orphans, robbed of an outlet for expression. But it wasn’t their traditional organisations that allowed them to do it. A new organisation emerged on 30 August: Mulheres Unidas contra Bolsonaro, Women United Against Bolsonaro, with the hashtag #EleNão, Not Him.
Faced with the barbarism of the Bolsonaros, Trumps and Kavanaughs, in West Virginia just as in Brazil, the new women’s movement links with the working-class struggle and raises important questions. A brute who approves of murder and torture shouldn’t come to power. To stop him we will have to vote for Haddad, in a dynamic of democratic regroupment and a move from the defensive to the offensive. Such will be the long political battle between the two rounds, between Sunday 7 October and Sunday 28 October.
Democracy against barbarism! Women’s rights against barbarism!
• Abridged from Arguments pour la lutte sociàle.