Mining script

Bolsonaro follows Trump script –

Image by Matheus Camara da Silva.

The upcoming presidential elections in Brazil in October mark a momentous event in the country, which will have lasting consequences. Throughout the campaign, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has hinted that, like the former US president, he intends to ignore the election results. It would be just one more case where the Brazilian president closely followed Donald Trump’s scenario.

It is remarkable how the two presidents reacted similarly to different events. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Bolsonaro and Trump downplayed the severity of the pandemic, which may have contributed to the catastrophic results it had in both countries. Additionally, both presidents promoted the use of hydroxychloroquine to prevent or treat COVID-19. At the end of May 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) had suspended an international trial of hydroxychloroquine, fearing that it carried a “significantly higher risk of death” compared to patients who did not receive the drug, according to one study. published in the Lancet.

Due to Bolsonaro’s cavalier attitude to the pandemic, it has spread to indigenous communities living in remote areas of the Amazon rainforest and to the favelas of Rio de Janeiro, home to millions of people living in the extreme poverty and without the protection of good public health services. A Lancet op-ed said: “Yet perhaps the greatest threat to Brazil’s response to COVID-19 is its president, Jair Bolsonaro.” Conclusion: Bolsonaro’s and Trump’s policies in the face of the pandemic have caused the preventable deaths of tens of thousands of people.

Both presidents have shown total disregard for the environment and the disastrous consequences of climate change. During a 2022 interview on Fox Business Network’s Varney & Company, Trump told host Stuart Varney that climate change was a “hoax.” He explained, “In my opinion, you have a thing called weather, and you go up and down. If you look back in the 1920s, they were talking about a global freeze, okay? In other words, the globe would freeze. And then they go to global warming. Then they couldn’t use it because the temperatures were actually quite cool. And a lot of different things. So now they only talk about climate change. The climate has always changed. Irrefutable.

In October 2021, Bolsonaro’s Environment Minister Joaquim Leite announced a “National Green Growth Program” to promote forest conservation and advance sustainable development. In November, the Brazilian delegation to the UN Climate Conference (COP26) announced a new climate action plan.

However, deforestation rates in the Brazilian Amazon increased dramatically during Bolsonaro’s first two years in office. Between August 2020 and July 2021, 13,235 square kilometers of Amazon rainforest were cut, a 22% increase from the same period a year earlier and the highest number since 2006.

At the same time, the Bolsonaro government has promoted bills encouraging deforestation by granting amnesty for land invasions, relaxed environmental licenses, opened up indigenous territories to mining projects with very negative environmental impact and used violence against defenders of the forest. According to a survey published by the Coordinator of Indigenous Organizations of the Amazon Basin, the largest rainforest in the world is on the verge of “irreversible destruction of the ecosystem”.

Trump left a legacy of widespread corruption during his four years in office. The CREW group (Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington) has identified 3,737 conflicts of interest by the Trump administration. The group says, “There are probably hundreds, if not thousands, of other conflicts that we have no way of knowing about. And to add: “Trump opened the presidency for business, and for four years influence was for sale”.

Not to be outdone by his mentor, Bolsonaro gave unlimited power to his three sons, which led to widespread corruption. While Bolsonaro accuses former President Luis Inácio Lula da Silvia of corrupt practices during his government, Bolsonaro’s family is now accused of buying 51 expensive properties with illegal funds. Two of his sons, who both hold public office, have been accused by prosecutors of stealing public funds from their shadow associates and employees. While Trump promised to “empty the swamp of Washington”, Bolsonaro promised to bring “transparency above all!”

Following Trump’s lead faithfully, Bolsonaro said Brazil’s electronic voting machines were full of potential fraud, with no evidence to prove it. In July, Bolsonaro summoned foreign ambassadors to further disparage his own country’s electronic voting system, a move that sparked international concern. In August, more than a million Brazilians, including prominent academics, former presidents, lawyers and popular music stars signed a letter defending the integrity of the country’s electoral system. “We have recently seen how authoritarian follies endanger the age-old democracy of the United States. There, efforts to disrupt democracy and people’s trust in the reliability of the electoral process have not succeeded, and neither will they succeed here,” the manifesto states.

Bolsonaro trails former President Luis Inácio Lula da Silvia in opinion polls. If Bolsonaro loses the election, it is widely feared that he will stage a revolt and refuse to accept the results. It would be a sad copy of the events of January 6 in Washington, DC, a tragedy for Brazil and a serious threat to democracy in this dynamic country.