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Dublin: 10°C Tuesday 26 October 2021

'The vote was built on hate': Brazilians in Ireland react to election of far-right president Bolsonaro

The far-right politician has previously said he is “very proud” to be homophobic.

Students at a demonstration of resistance against Bolsonaro.
Students at a demonstration of resistance against Bolsonaro.
Image: SIPA USA/PA Images

SOME BRAZILIANS IN Ireland watched in horror this week as former army captain Jair Bolsonaro was elected president of their home country. 

Far-right Bolsonaro has openly expressed support for the use of torture by the military regime and has made remarks deemed misogynistic, racist and homophobic. Despite this, he received 55.13% of the vote. 

His success has been credited to his ability to tap voters’ anger with corruption, crime and economic turmoil. He gave his victory speech from home, where he was recovering from a stab attack at a rally in September.

He told supporters he would govern “following the Bible and the constitution”. 

Bolsonaro was congratulated by US President Donald Trump:

Tweet by @Donald J. Trump Source: Donald J. Trump/Twitter

In a video address on 21 October, Bolsonaro said he would use the presidency to launch an assault on his political rivals.

“Either they go overseas or they go to jail. These red outlaws will be banished from our homeland. It will be a cleanup of the likes of which has never been seen in Brazilian history.”

Source: Xinhua News Agency/PA Images

He also said former president Luiz Inácio Lula Da Silva would be left to “rot in jail”.

We are the voice of freedom…We do not want socialism.

‘Everything about you is wrong’

Jessica Tenorio, an intersex woman and activist, has been living in Dublin for three years. She said she fears now that the fight for recognition and rights for intersex people and the LGBT community back in her home country will “be really hard now”.

She has watched from Ireland some of the comments made by Bolsonaro and others association with him about, in particular, gay people.

Saying things about gay people forcing children to be gay. There was a poster saying gender is only XX or XY. For intersex people, that’s a really big problem if they have family there. Telling them it’s shame, it’s wrong, everything about you is wrong. The political system is saying you are wrong.

Bolsonaro once boasted that he was “very proud” to be homophobic.

Gay Pride Parade in Brazil This year's Gay Pride Parade in Rio de Janeiro. Source: DPA/PA Images

It was in a 2013 interview with Stephen Fry that the now president made the comments Tenorio referred to about gay “fundamentalists” brainwashing children to “become gays and lesbians to satisfy them sexually in the future”.

He told Fry that “Brazilian society doesn’t like homosexuals”. Tenorio thinks these opinions had some clout with voters  – she does not believe this is all about his views on crime and corruption.

What makes me most mad about this is that the whole vote was built on hate, hate of everything that’s not “normal”, or cis or white.

Tenorio said her family in Brazil has noticed a mood change in the country already, and she worries about them.

“My niece is black, so I am worried about how things are going to go. I have Italian citizenship, so I want to bring my mother here to join me.”

Promoting violence

A spokesperson for the Brazilian Left Front, a social justice organisation based in Ireland, told TheJournal.ie that Bolsonaro has “already threatened migrants, as he threatened black people, indigenous people, women and the LGBT community.

“The minorities don’t feel safe living in Brazil nor, if living abroad, coming back for a visit. There are many cases of LGBTI people being attacked and killed. Brazil is already the country with a highest homicide rate of homosexuals in the world. Brazil recorded 445 cases of murders of gay people in 2017, according to the survey of the Gay Group of Bahia,” they said.

According to the NGO Transgender Europe, between 2008 and June 2016, 868 transvestites and transsexuals lost their lives violently. Around twelve women are murdered every day in Brazil. This is shown by a G1 survey considering the official state data for 2017. There were 4,473 homicides and 946 femicides last year in Brazil.

They said Bolsonaro’s presidency “will legitimatise, promote and help justify violence against the most vulnerable”.

“Throughout his campaign he made the most racist, sexist, homophobic comments and we are wondering how he could still run for president?”

Bethania Hora, a financial data analyst living in Ireland since 2013 described the election result as “a big loss for all the Brazilian population”.

“I am scared about the future of my country,” she told TheJournal.ie. She referenced quotes from Bolsonaro about his view that women should not earn the same as men because they are not as capable and that he would be unable to love a gay son,” she said.

“I think it is a setback for Brazil and we will have all of our richest resources destroyed like the Amazon forest or even our oil sources will be even more exploited.”

Hora’s family is also still living in Brazil and they have told her that violence against homosexuals and black people has increased since the election.

“The situation is very tense and scary for many Brazilians.”

She believes there are “dark days” ahead for her home country and she is scared for her family and friends, but she hopes that people in Brazil will “resist this new fascist government”.

“I guess everyone who leaves wants to come back one day, but being honest, with him in power I have to work twice as hard in Ireland now to help my family in Brasil to get through these dark days.”

Another Dublin resident Flavia Godoy said she is worried to see her country in the hands of someone who she does not feel is prepared to govern.

“He made his whole campaign with hate and lies. Beyond the economic crisis that we are experiencing, we have many social problems,” she said.

Godoy, who has lived in Ireland for about a year, has a lot of family back in Brazil. Some even voted for Bolsonaro. She said they saw him as “the last hope for Brazil”.

“I came to Ireland thinking of going back one day, today I’m not sure if I will return or when.”

Bolsonaro will take office on 1 January.

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