Things That Matter

This Is What Brazilians Think Of President Bolsonaro One Year Into His Presidency

When Jair Bolsonaro was elected as Brazil’s new president people around the world scratched their head in disbelief. He was hailed as “the Brazilian Trump” and newspaper headlines highlighted the return of the far-right in South American politics. Let us remember that previous to the Bolsonaro era Brazil had been governed by the progressive governments of Lula Da Silva and Dilma Roussef, who later were accused and indicted for corruption, accusations that up to this date their fiercest followers deny. So in a climate of political unrest and deep divisions within Brazilian society Jair Bolsonaro was elected. 

Just to give you an idea of what Bolsonaro’s politics are, this is a fast and furious summary.

Credit: Isac Nobrera / Brazilian National Archive

He is: pro-gun, anti-indigenous, misogynist, homophobic, far-right, allied to the most conservative religious groups, anti-press, anti-arts. If you have an ounce of humanity and lead a compassionate life, Bolsonaro is everything that you are not. 

So what do people think of him? Tom Phillips, Dom Phillips and Jonathan Watts over at The Guardian interviewed six prominent Brazilians to gather their views on what life is like in the country under the Bolsonaro administration. 

Djamila Ribeiro, feminist philosopher, publisher and activist says: “We feel really afraid of the intensifying repression of the black population and the increasing militarisation of the favelas.”

It is no secret that Brazil has very complex racial politics, particularly when it comes to its Black population. Bolsonaro has perpetuated cruel stereotypes about Black Brazilians and racists feel validated (sounds familiar?). Ribeiro is at least a bit positive, though, as she says: “If there’s a positive side to this government, it’s that issues of race and gender have never been talked about so much”. 

Patrícia Campos Mello, award-winning journalist, says: “There hadn’t been any kind of censorship since the end of the military dictatorship [in 1985] – and now we’ve started to see a gradual erosion of freedom of expression.”

As has happened in the United States and other Western democracies that have seen the rise of populist politics, the press has been the de facto enemy. Journalists in Brazil feel threatened. To add insult to injury, fake news is now a common denominator in the Brazilian political landscape. 

Celso Amorim, former foreign minister, says about Brazilian diplomacy under Bolsonaro: “It’s not very different from the US state department under Trump – only more exaggerated, more ridiculous.”

This veteran diplomat has some very harsh words for the Bolsonaro presidency, and even says he feels ashamed. He adds: “Now it has embarked upon an all-out ideological war against everything that is not western or Christian – according to their conception”. So yes, Bolsonaro’s war escapes the confines of Brazil and determines the country’s relationship to the world. Nice. 

Gustavo Bebianno, former Bolsonaro ally, says: “You can agree with him about 99 things. But if you disagree on one and argue or try to offer another point of view, you are seen as a traitor.”

It is often the case that allies and collaborators of politicians who situate themselves in one of the extremes of the political spectrum become disenchanted once the politician is in power. Such is the case of Bebianno, who claims that Bolsonaro is surrounded by radicals and that the administration has become a sort of sect where anything can be judged as treason. 

Davi Kopenawa Yanomami, indigenous intellectual, shaman and author, says: “Bolsonaro is a garimpeiro [illegal miner]. He wants more land and fewer Indians.”

Perhaps the population that has suffered the most under Bolsonaro are indigenous Brazilians. Bolsonaro has shown zero respect for their way of life and their relationship with the environment. His timid response to the Amazon fires revealed a pro-industry and neo-colonial perspective in which anything goes in the name of business.

As Davi Kopenawa Yanomami expands: ““In our culture, we don’t damage the river and trees. We care for the forest. But the miners just bring destruction. Who is getting rich from this? It’s not regular Brazilians in the cities. It’s politicians who are selling the wealth of Brazil to foreigners.”

Karine Teles, actor, says: “For Brazilian cinema, 2019 represented a gigantic pause. Nothing advanced. Everything was suspended.”

Regimes that risk becoming totalitarian usually start cutting funding for the arts. Brazilian cinema has been healthy for a few years now, both in terms of revenue and in artistic innovation. However, the Bolsonaro government is attempting to restrict the type of content that is produced with public money, which is a form of censorship.

Teles expands: “I think it’s an attempt to restrict the content of films. But our country is still a democracy where things work in a certain way. No leader – a mayor, a governor, or president – has the right to impose their personal tastes on the entire population.”

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The Miami Herald Apologizes For Including Racist, Anti-Semitic Insert In Newspaper

Things That Matter

The Miami Herald Apologizes For Including Racist, Anti-Semitic Insert In Newspaper

@BillCorben / Twitter

Readers of the Miami Herald and the El Nuevo Herald noticed a racist and anti-Semitic insert in one of the latest editions. The column in the insert compared BLM activists to Nazis while talking down about the Jewish community.

The Miami Herald recently published a racist and anti-Semitic insert.

The offensive piece, written by Cuban exile Roberto Luque Escalona, received harsh and immediate backlash. Escalona expresses his displeasure for the Jewish community and those seeking racial justice by joining BLM with one column.

“What kind of people are these Jews” writes Escalona. He then continues to “teach” Jewish people the history of the Holocaust and claims that BLM supporters are worse than the Nazis during Kristallnacht, the Night of Broken Glass, because the Nazis simply destroyed things and didn’t steal.

The newspaper has apologized for the insert going so far as to admit that it was not properly vetted and that “internal failures” were at play.

According to an open letter, higher ups at the Miami Herald admit to the insert not being read and vetted by the staff. The obvious overlook led to a 40-page insert of right-wing propaganda to be distributed to the readers of both the Miami Herald and El Nuevo Herald. Since the publication, the Miami Herald claims to have ended their relationship with Libre, the insert with the racist and anti-Semitic content.

Those responsible at the Miami Herald admitted to not reading the insert before it was distributed.

“We are deeply sorry that inflammatory, racist and anti-Semitic commentary reached our el Nuevo Herald subscribers through LIBRE, a Spanish-language publication that paid our company to have the product printed and inserted into our print edition as a weekly supplement,” reads part of an open letter to readers. “The fact that no one in leadership, beginning with us, had previously read this advertising insert until this issue was surfaced by a reader is distressing. It is one of a series of internal failures that we are investigating in order to prevent this from ever recurring.”

Readers are outraged that the newspaper would allow such offensive things to be published and distributed.

The right-wing conspiracies pushed by Libre are part of a larger Spanish-language disinformation campaign targeting Cubans in southern Florida. The community has been inundated with disinformation ahead of the 2020 election preying on the fears and ignorance within the staunchly conservative Cuban community.

“It’s difficult to measure the effect exactly, but the polling sort of shows it and in focus groups it shows up, with people deeply questioning the Democrats, and referring to the ‘deep state’ in particular — that there’s a real conspiracy against the president from the inside,” Eduardo Gamarra, a pollster and director of the Latino Public Opinion Forum at Florida International University, told Politico. “There’s a strain in our political culture that’s accustomed to conspiracy theories, a culture that’s accustomed to coup d’etats.”

The disinformation is targeting Cubans because of the growing Latino communities who tend to vote Democratic.

According to Politico, the campaign is Cuban specific. The Puerto Rican, Nicaraguan, Colombian, Venezuelan, and Dominican communities in Florida, which continue to grow, typically vote Democratic. These shifting demographics have left Republicans doing anything it takes to keep a strong hold of the Cuban community, even by means of racism, anti-Semitism, and disinformation.

READ: Politicians Need To Stop Assuming That The Latino Vote Is A Monolith Because It Is Not The Truth

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Latinos For Trump Posted A Collage Of Flag For Hispanic Heritage Month And Got Some Wrong

Culture

Latinos For Trump Posted A Collage Of Flag For Hispanic Heritage Month And Got Some Wrong

Joe Raedle / Getty Images

Latinos for Trump has long been a confusing organization in the Latino community. President Donald Trump has built his administration and brand to be squarely against people of color. Now, the Latinos for Trump group caused a stir when they posted a collage of flags that are not quite right.

Latinos for Trump really thought they had something when they posted their Hispanic Heritage Month collage.

The first, and most obvious mistake, is that the Mexican flag is backwards. The flag is supposed to be green, white, and red in that order. As we can all see, the collage has a Mexican flag that is red, white, and green. The eagle is even facing the wrong way so someone literally flipped the flag the wrong way.

Of course, some people tried to make sense of the bizarre Mexican flag snafu.

Last year, the Trump administration announced that it was cutting aid to three countries in Central America. The countries were El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala. Fox & Friends picked up the story but told their audience that Trump was cutting aid to “3 Mexican countries.” Perhaps this Twitter user is right and the Latinos for Trump are trying to suggest the existence of other Mexicos.

Someone else pointed out the issues with the Guatemalan flag in the top right corner.

People are very defensive about their cultural heritage and national origin. Messing up someone’s flag is a very serious issue for people. Just ask a Cuban or Puerto Rican about people confusing their flags. It is never a good thing.

Some people fixed the image for them so the organization can see what it should have looked like.

Good, clean lines with all of the flags facing the right way. The creator even changed the message in the middle for the Latino community. It is clear that social media is still willing to show up and teach a couple of lessons here and there.

Others had a more direct message for Latinos for Trump.

We all know that social media is where things go to be manipulated and made fun of. It is very important that if you make something for social media that you take good care to make sure that you check all of the right boxes and execute your work right the first time.

READ: In A Seriously Awkward Announcement, Vice President Pence Went To Florida To Launch A ‘Latinos For Trump’ Coalition

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