Bolsonaro, who has drawn comparisons to Donald Trump, won Brazil’s presidential election with 55.2 percent of the vote

By Maria Pasquini
October 29, 2018 12:28 PM
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Jair Bolsonaro, who has drawn comparisons to Donald Trump, has won Brazil’s presidential election.

The far-right politician, who spent almost three decades as a congressman, won 55.2 percent of the vote on Sunday, easily defeating his opponent Fernando Haddad, who represents the left-wing Workers’ Party.

In addition to campaigning on promises of relaxed gun laws and a reduction in the corruption that has engulfed the country’s political system, Bolsonaro, 63, has spoken favorably of torture and dictatorship, reported the BBC.

He has also drawn criticism for his public statements about women and homosexuality.

In 2014, Bolsonnaro told a congresswoman he “wouldn’t rape you because you don’t deserve it,” CNBC reported, adding that as recently as last year, he said that his fifth child ended up being a girl because “I had a moment of weakness.”

During a Playboy interview in 2011, he remarked that “I would prefer my son to die in an accident than by gay,” according to USA Today.

Credit: Buda Mendes/Getty Images

In a videotaped meeting with Ellen Page for her VICELAND series Gaycation, the gay actress asked Bolsonaro about comments he had made in the past suggesting that parents should “beat the gay out” of their children, reported Advocate.

“I believe that for the majority of gay people it’s a behavioral issue,” he remarked during their 2016 meeting. “When I was young, talking about percentage, there were few [gay people]. Over time, due to liberal habits, drugs, with women also working, the number of homosexuals has really increased.”

“I also tend to say if your son starts hanging out with certain people with a certain behavior, he’ll adopt that sort of behavior,” the then-congressman added. “He’ll think it’s normal.”

During the exchange he also told Page, “I’m not going to look at you and say, ‘I think you’re gay,’” adding that, “if I were a cadet in the military academy and saw you on the street, I would whistle at you. All right? You’re very pretty.”

Earlier this year, Bolsonaro was charged by the country’s attorney general with “inciting hatred towards black, gay and indigenous people,” the New York Times reported. He was also stabbed in the stomach at a rally in September.

“This is a really radical shift,” Scott Mainwaring, a professor at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government told the outlet. “I can’t think of a more extremist leader in the history of democratic elections in Latin America who has been elected.”

Bolsonaro will assume office on January 1 of next year.

Jair Bolsonaro
| Credit: MAURO PIMENTEL/AFP/Getty Images

While the Times reported that even a year ago, many politicians veterans appeared doubtful that Bolsonaro’s extreme rhetoric would find support among voters, his rise also coincided with dissatisfaction with the leftist Workers’ Party.

A criminal investigation, known as “Operation Car Wash” implicated many leaders from the party in a graft scheme, CNN reported.

Former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, who was in office from 2003 to 2011, was arrested in April, charged with corruption and money laundering, and handed a 12-year prison sentence, according to the outlet. While he initially tried to run for president this year, he was prevented from doing so, after which his running mate, Haddad, took over.

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Due to his numerous polarizing opinions and remarks, the politician has been called the “Trump of the Tropics,” a comparison which Bolsonaro doesn’t mind.

“I’m not richer than him. That’s all I do not admire,” he said during an interview with TIME.

Trump has also spoken favorably of the politician, and tweeted on Monday that the pair had an “excellent call” following his victory at the polls.

“Had a very good conversation with the newly elected President of Brazil, Jair Bolsonaro, who won his race by a substantial margin,” he wrote. “We agreed that Brazil and the United States will work closely together on Trade, Military and everything else! Excellent call, wished him congrats!”

On Sunday, Press Secretary Sarah Sanders also remarked that Trump had called Bolsonaro “to congratulate him and the Brazilian people on today’s elections.”

“Both expressed a strong commitment to work side-by-side to improve the lives of the people of the United States and Brazil, and as regional leaders, of the Americas,” she added.

Bolsonaro also echoed Trump’s “Make America Great Again” rallying call in a video broadcast on his official Facebook account on Sunday, the Times reported. Bolsonaro told his supporters, “We have everything we need to become a great nation.”

Continuing, he added, “Together we will change the destiny of Brazil.”