'A political rupture': far right ready to roll in Bolsonaro's Brazil
Jair Bolsonaro âA political ruptureâ: far right ready to roll in Bolsonaroâs Brazil
Colonel MÃ¡rcio Tadeu de Lemos sees opportunity to leap into political quagmire
When Colonel MÃ¡rcio Tadeu de Lemos surveys his native land he sees a calamitous morass of backwardness and blood-letting, leftist kleptomania and moral rot.
âBrazil is living through a catastrophe: a political catastrophe, an administrative catastrophe , a financial catastrophe and a security catastrophe,â lamented the 53-year-old veteran of SÃ£o Pauloâs military police. âItâs an utterly disagreeable state of affairs.â
But when Lemos looks to the future he sees Bolsonarian bliss â" an orderly rightwing republic blazing a prosperous and profoundly conservative trail into the future under the helmsmanship of the far-right president-elect, Jair Bolsonaro.
âItâs a political rupture,â enthused Lemos, one of 52 newly elected congressmen from Bolsonaroâs Social Liberal party (PSL). âWe are closing one cycle and starting another.â
That cycle officially begins on 1 January when Bolsonaro â" a political minnow who has surfed to the pinnacle of Brazilian politics on a tsunami of conservatism and voter discontent â" takes office.
But already in the few days since his victory the former paratrooper has given Brazil â" and the world â" a dizzying, and to many disturbing, glimpse of the rightist roller-coaster ahead.
In interviews Bolsonaro has reaffirmed his regard for Brazilâs 1964-85 dictatorship and vowed to brand social movements such as the Landless Workersâ Movement (MST) terrorists.
He has publicly embraced a radical televangelist who calls himself âpublic enemy number oneâ of the gay movement and invited another commander of Brazilâs religious right to his home, stirring fears of a puritanical tack.
On Thursday, just hours after controversially naming the judge who jailed his main riva l for the presidency as his justice minister, Bolsonaro announced his intention to move Brazilâs embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
Lemos â" part of a new breed of politicians with backgrounds in the police or armed forces - suggested such steps were merely the start of a âhard and drasticâ shakeup of politics and society Bolsonaro and his allies were plotting after receiving what he called a âblank chequeâ mandate from 57.7 million voters.
âThere are going to be changes â" big changes,â predicted the affable helicopter pilot, who entered SÃ£o Pauloâs police academy at 16, retired in 2012 and decided to try his hand at politics after an invitation from a member of Bolsonaroâs team, Major SÃ©rgio OlÃmpio Gomes, two years ago.
Lemos, who has policed some of SÃ£o Pauloâs most deprived and violent corners, said bringing an iron-fist down on crime would be one of Bolsonaroâs top priorities after a record 63,880 homicides last year.
Politicians had long been soft on crime; in Bolsonaroâs Brazil calls to decriminalise drugs would be shunned and gun laws loosened. âPeople insist on saying the more guns you have, the more crimes take place. This is an absolute lie,â he said. âOur line is that we will allow the population to use guns until the state is able to seize back all the weapons from the criminals and seal the borders.â
Lemos said he backed hard-line proposals being floated by Bolsonaro allies such as Rio de Janeiroâs new governor, including using snipers to kill criminals. Rio was a âcriminal paradiseâ where an outlaw could roam the streets carrying weapons of war: âSo I ask you: doesnât he deserve to die?âHow dangerous is Jair Bolsonaro, Brazil's new president? - podcast Read more
Activists are horrified by such talk and fear a Bolsonarian bloodbath. âHe wants to give police licence to kill and we know this will hit young, poor black men t he hardest but could also affect any of the rest of us, for ideological reasons,â warned Ariel de Castro Alves, a human rights activist and lawyer.
But Lemos claimed the killing could only be halted with âa great deal of force and energyâ. âIf we need to have two or three more confrontations with traffickers to restore peace, you canât consider that a blood bath.â
Lemos, a god-fearing, motorbike-riding grandfather, said draining Brazilâs swamp would also be a key mission for Bolsonarianos. The countryâs political class had long had its hand in the till but under now jailed former leftist president Luiz InÃ¡cio Lula da Silva pilfering became a âcompulsionâ. âI spent 30 years in the police chasing crooks in the streets. Now I want to chase them in BrasÃlia,â Lemos said of his decision to leap into the political âquagmireâ.
On the eve of his triumph, Bolsonaro outraged opponents with a vow to force âredâ rivals into jail or exile. He later promised there would be no persecution. But Lemos reinforced the sense the left would come under siege in Bolsonaroâs Brazil â" as would the press, which he alleged had been âfitted outâ with fellow travellers.
Bolsonaro has repeatedly likened himself to Donald Trump and several of Lemosâ proposals came straight from the US presidentâs playbook.
He suggested building âa very high wallâ along Brazilâs southwestern border with Paraguay to block gun runners and smugglers. He called for Las Vegas-style casino resorts in Brazilâs impoverished and left-leaning north-east to cut poverty and boost Bolsonaroâs chances of re-election in 2022. âThe whole world will come!â
As Brazil prepared a Bolsonarian blitz on crime, Trumpâs lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, was also an inspiration for his fight against crime while mayor of New York. âZero tolerance!â Lemos declared. âThatâs where we will begin!â
At a demonstration in SÃ £o Paulo this week, anti-Bolsonaro protesters mourned the political and social seachange ahead.
âI feel afraid,â said Daiany Martins, a 19-year-old student who had come with a poster reading: âYour hands are covered in bloodâ.
âI feel afraid for the people I love; afraid for my friends who are black; afraid from my friends who are LGBTQ. I feel afraid for myself as a woman.â
Monica de Bolle, a Johns Hopkins University Brazil expect, predicted âmassive regressionâ on a range of social issues during Bolsonaroâs four-year term. âThis Brazil that is taking shape is not a country that I recognise. I donât recognise this country and I donât know what it is going to become.â
Lemoswas elated conservatism was returning to its place in the Brazilian sun. He claimed a fifth of voters supported a âmilitary interventionâ to remove Brazilâs disgraced political elite: âGet rid of them all. Close Congress. Close the Senate. Close the Low er House ... Put in a military president and leave him to govern!â
That wasnât possible, the former police officer grumbled: âPeople always complain that this would be a coup.â
Bolsonaro was the next best thing.Topics
- Jair Bolsonaro
- The far right
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