After leading a divisive campaign, newly elected President Jair Bolsonaro promptly issued executive orders targeting Brazil’s indigenous groups, the LGBT community, and minorities. The far-right leader ran on a platform where he stated he would overhaul many aspects of life in Latin America’s largest nation. In just his first week of office, Bolsonaro offered a glimpse of what could be the start of many far-right policies.
Hours after his inauguration, Bolsonaro issued an order for that will make it impossible for new lands to be identified for indigenous communities.
Brazil's new president, Jair Bolsonaro, just gave the Agriculture Ministry the power to make decisions about Indigenous land and the Amazon.
One of his campaign promises was to open Indigenous land to commercial mining and farming. pic.twitter.com/3F4aKmYfDi
— AJ+ (@ajplus) January 2, 2019
In a devastating blow to indigenous communities, Bolsonaro issued an order to put the Minister of Agriculture (MOA) in charge of designating protected lands for indigenous people, according to The New York Times. That ministry has historically favored the interests of industries that want greater access to protected lands. It’s a move that’s seen as undermining the indigenous rights and environmental protections of countless people in these undeveloped areas. “Quilombolas,” descendants of former slaves, would also be affected by this move.
FUNAI (the National Indian Foundation), the department in charge of indigenous rights, oversaw these indigenous lands but Bolsonaro’s decree now places those responsibilities to the MOA.
There has been an outcry from many indigenous rights groups that say the order represents a threat to Brazil’s indigenous population. Protected lands for indigenous groups take up 13 percent of Brazil, much of which in located in the rainforest and with limited development.
He has continued to deliver on his anti-LGBTQ+ rhetoric by limiting their rights.
Just hours into his presidency, Jair Bolsonaro targeted Brazil's indigenous, black and LGBT communities with executive orders.
— Brazil Solidarity Initiative (@nocoupinBrazil) January 7, 2019
The newly created Human Rights Ministry will no longer adhere to the concerns of the LGBTQ+ community which could spell trouble for countless people in Brazil. The newly named Ministry of Women, Family, and Human Rights made no reference to LGBTQ+ rights in its priorities.
According to the AP, Damares Alves, the new human rights minister, didn’t acknowledge the LGBTQ+ community in her first address. Alves has previously said that “the Brazilian family is being threatened” by diversity policies. This new realignment and focus on human rights has caused fear and anger in the LGBTQ+ community that feels that the move will result in more discrimination.
“The human rights ministry discussed our concerns at a body called secretariat of promotion and defense of human rights. That body just disappeared, just like that,” Symmy Larrat, an LGBT activist told the AP. “We don’t see any signs there will be any other government infrastructure to handle LGBT issues.”
Many of his policies fall in line similarly with those of U.S. President Donald Trump.
In #Brazil, a country with record hate-based homophobic and transphobic murders, new president Jair Bolsonaro excludes the LGBT community from groups protected by the human rights ministry. https://t.co/l6ITqsn6SI #LGBTrightsarehumanrights #StandwithLGBTinBrazil
— Rainbow Railroad (@RainbowRailroad) January 7, 2019
Both presidents have had hard stances on immigration, minority groups and an agenda filled with nationalist policies. President Trump tweeted praise of Bolsonaro’s inauguration speech, saying “the U.S.A. is with you!” and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo even attended Bolsonaro’s swearing-in ceremony.
Similar to Trump, Bolsonaro has attacked the press and even placed restrictions on journalists at his inauguration. Reporters had to arrive several hours before the event began and weren’t allowed to move freely in the presidential palace limiting the scope of their reporting.
All these swift orders by Bolsonaro have rewarded the base that got him elected which some see as similarities of the early days of President Trump’s tenure. He’s made a big splash in his first days as President and has signaled even bolder acts to come.
His first few days in office might be an indication of what’s to come in Bolsonoro’s term as president.
Jair Bolsonaro's first week in power:
•Transferred indigenous reserves to agriculture ministry with strong agribusiness ties
•Proposed major privatization of major airports and seaports
•Executive order to remove concerns of LGBT community from new Human Rights Ministry pic.twitter.com/bjqQWR5KIb
— Going Underground on RT (@Underground_RT) January 9, 2019
After years of recession, corruption scandals and a crime wave that led to record homicides, there was an outpouring of anger that elected Bolsonaro to the presidency. But now that Bolsonaro is elected, Brazil must anticipate what’s to come next and be prepared for which direction their far-right leader will take them. Whether it’s on issues like security, where he plans to loosen gun restrictions in Brazil to allow citizens to carry a gun for self-defense, or boosting the economy with plans of privatizing major airports and seaports, he’s sure to face some opposition.