Brazil’s Bolsonaro prepares most right-wing government since end of US-backed dictatorship
13 November 2018
The first two weeks since the election of the far-right populist Jair Bolsonaro as Brazil’s president are further confirming that the next administration will be the most right-wing since the return to civilian rule after a 21-year US-backed military dictatorship in 1985.
Bolsonaro defeated Workers Party (PT) candidate Fernando Haddad in what became a referendum on the catastrophic social conditions facing Brazilians after 16 years of rule by the PT and its former allies. He built his campaign mainly around anti-corruption demagoguery and an economic nationalist platform—on many issues emulating Donald Trump’s “America First” rhetoric. This was mainly directed at Chinese investments in Brazil and what he called “handouts” to “ideological allies” of the former PT government, i.e., Brazilian foreign investments in African and other Latin American nations.
Bolsonaro blamed the worst economic crisis in Brazilian history and a stagnant 12 percent unemployment rate on the massive corruption uncovered by the so-called “Lava-Jato” (Carwash) investigation into a bribes and kickbacks operation centered on a Brazilian economic pillar, the state-run oil giant Petrobras, and—in Trump-like fashion—supposedly uneven economic relations with China, Africa and the rest of Latin America.
However, as has been the case with Trump and other right-wing populists succeeding Latin America’s “pink tide” governments, the real content of Bolsonaro’s economic nationalism is the destruction of workers’ living standards. This includes the rolling back of environmental regulations, which Bolsonaro repeatedly blamed for an “industry of…