by Fausto Freire
A leftist candidate and a right-wing candidate. This was the choice, for the world to see in the Brazilian 2018 presidential race. For some observers, co-opted by the traditional Brazilian parties, one of the candidates represented the far-right.
European stereotypes should not be applied to Brazil at the risk of total loss of objectivity. The European far-right is characterized by totalitarians, xenophobic and belligerent governments like Hitler’s and Mussolini’s.
In Brazil, there has never been a left-wing or right-wing government in the European model. What has happened so far has been populist governments of the right and left. Collor, the first president elected after the military regime, was called a rightist. Lula da Silva and Dilma Rousseff were nicknamed left-wing governments. None of this was true. All three ended up with grand accusations of corruption.
Europeans in general, and European universities in particular, should be ashamed to have been praised by Brazilian presidents, later revealed to corrupt and criminals. Many insist in not accepting the Brazilian courts’ condemnations of these corrupt politicians as legitimate.
However, the convictions against corrupt Brazilian politicians, like Lula da Silva and others, were absolutely impartial, just, and perfectly legal.
Barack Obama was also deceived by the populist charm of Lula da Silva, but no less misguided than George Bush. Both praised one of the most corrupt Brazilian politicians. American conservatives of the past preferred to support dictatorships. The more recent opted for the populists. South America is showing that both are mistaken.
Jair Bolsonaro was introduced to the world by Brazilian traditional political parties, as a far-right, fascist, xenophobic, homophobic and racist. In fact, he is only a politician of the third level, driven by the circumstances to the position of president of the country.
He has always been harassed by the corrupt for his constant denunciations against the corruption installed in Brazilian politics. His views found acceptance in the majority of the population, who saw in corruption the greatest threat to democracy.
The Brazilian people are not mostly conservative. The people are not xenophobic, homophobic, or racist. The identification with the candidate, elected president, was for his firm anti-corruption stance.
Foreign correspondents in Brazil bought the theses of far-rightism glued to Bolsonaro. They will hardly have the humility, in the future, to acknowledge their mistakes, perhaps for fear of losing their job.
However, even the most naive observer of Brazilian politics, cannot sustain, without falling into the ridiculous, that the majority of the Brazilian people – cordial, cheerful and carnival lovers -, has suddenly become a belligerent, conservative, far-right-wing.