Friday 22nd of March 2019

return of boots and all...


For Brazil, the world’s fourth largest democracy, to have elected the extreme right-wing Jair Bolsonaro is stunning.

Just a decade ago Brazil’s president Lula da Silva was one of the most progressive and strongly socialist leaders in the recent history of Latin America.

Clearly a lot has gone wrong in Brazil and people feel angry but it is still amazing that people are prepared to elect someone who says that refugees are “the scum of the earth” and is prepared to say “if I see two men kissing each other in the street I’ll whack them.” Even more bizarre was his statement in May 1999 that “I’m in favour of torture.” He also talked about his five kids, saying “four of them are men but on the fifth I had a moment of weakness and it came out a woman” further claiming “I would be incapable of loving a homosexual son… I’d rather my son died in an accident than showed up with some bloke with a moustache.”

As a member of Congress and a long-standing defender of the military dictatorship he said in 1993, “Yes, I’m in favour of a dictatorship. We will never resolve grave national problems with this irresponsible democracy.” The truth is the military dictatorship which lasted from 1964 to 1985 presided over the killing and disappearance of hundreds of progressives, claiming they were trying to save their country from communism.

Bizarrely in the election campaign Bolsonaro called for his left-wing political opponents to be shot but this was just two days before he was stabbed in an assassination attempt at a mass rally. Although this meant he had to spend most of the rest of the campaign confined in hospital, it did not prevent him winning in a landslide and immediately receiving congratulations from Donald Trump. One of Bolsonaro’s first decisions was to do exactly what Trump has done and announce he will move Brazil’s Israel embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

The 63-year-old new president crushed the Workers Party candidate, Fernando Haddad, in the run-off on October 28. One of the main reasons he won so easily was that the former president Lula da Silva was not allowed to run against him because he was imprisoned on charges of corruption. Sergio Moro, the judge who sentenced Lula, has now been rewarded by being appointed the new president’s minister for justice and public security: a good reward as the opinion polls show had Lula been allowed to run he would have won.

Apart from Lula being prevented from running by allegations of corruption and money laundering, the other main factor in Bolsonaro’s election was the collapse of the Brazilian economy over the last five years. This has been Brazil’s worse recession in over half a century and it has undoubtedly fuelled the nation’s rising crime which now sees over 60,000 murders a year. As well as public anger powering his election it also led to a landslide in the Brazilian congress where over half of its members have just been elected for the first time and sixty percent of the congress is now held by right-wing parties. Because he did not trust Brazil’s media Bolsonaro’s campaign was basically run through the internet as his main way of reaching people.


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turning extreme loony right...

The former leader of the Labor Party, Mark Latham, has joined One Nation and will run for the NSW Parliament.

Key points:
  • Mark Latham will run for NSW Parliament and lead the state branch of One Nation
  • He says immigration, congestion, over-development and power prices will feature in his campaign
  • ABC elections analyst Antony Green believes Mr Latham will be elected in the upper house


Speaking on Alan Jones' 2GB radio program this morning with One Nation leader Pauline Hanson, Mr Latham said he was putting his hand up because he believed NSW voters needed a third choice.

He identified immigration, congestion, over-development and electricity prices as some of the issues he would use to campaign.

But Mr Latham also hit out against "political correctness" and "divisive identity politics".

"These are all issues that are banking up in NSW they haven't been addressed by the major parties," he said.


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disdain for the indigenous peoples of brazil..

On 1 January, Jair Bolsonaro will be sworn in as Brazil’s 38th president. He has expressed open disdain for the indigenous peoples of Brazil, and it is no exaggeration to say that some of the world’s most unique and diverse tribes are facing annihilation. Genocide is defined by the UN as “the intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group”. Large-scale mass genocides rightly receive global attention, yet countless others go unreported and unpunished because the victims number only a few hundred, or even a few dozen.

Right now, deep in the Amazon rainforest, a small tribe of survivors is on the run. They are the Kawahiva, an uncontacted tribe of just a few dozen people, the victims of waves of horrific attacks which have pushed them to the brink of extinction. We know almost nothing about them, except that they are fleeing chainsaws in a region with the highest rate of deforestation in the Amazon. Brazil’s first ever investigation into the genocide of an uncontacted tribe was launched in 2005, and 29 people suspected of involvement in killing Kawahiva were detained but later released, including a former state governor and a senior policeman. The case stalled for lack of evidence.

 Bolsonaro’s election is catastrophic news for Brazil’s indigenous tribesFiona Watson  Read more

The Kawahiva’s territory lies near the town of Colniza, one of the most violent areas in Brazil, where 90% of income is from illegal logging. Survival International, the global movement fighting for the rights of tribal people, has recently called for increased police protection for the team responsible for protecting the Kawahiva’s land. FUNAI, Brazil’s Indian Affairs Department, has been prevented from properly carrying out its work in the area due to violence from illegal loggers and ranchers, leaving the tribe exposed. 

Preventing a genocide of uncontacted people is not a priority for Bolsonaro. He once said: “There is no indigenous territory where there aren’t minerals. Gold, tin and magnesium are in these lands, especially in the Amazon, the richest area in the world. I’m not getting into this nonsense of defending land for Indians.”

Indigenous peoples are frequently regarded as obstacles to the advance of agribusiness, extractive industries, roads and dams. As more rainforest is invaded and destroyed in the name of economic “progress” and personal profit, uncontacted tribes become targets – massacred over resources because greedy outsiders know they can literally get away with murder. These are silent, invisible genocides, with few if any witnesses. The news often only emerges months, if not years, later.

Jair Bolsonaro himself has declared: ‘It’s a shame that the Brazilian cavalry wasn’t as efficient as the Americans, who exterminated the Indians.’’ 


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the planet does not deserve this nasty dictator...


The world needs to understand what Brazil has become, before it’s too late. Jair Messias Bolsonaro’s Brazil is not just another country that elected a far-right president at a time when the world’s most powerful nation is led by Donald Trump. It’s not just South America’s version of the current trend of countries sliding into authoritarianism, like we’ve seen in Hungary, Poland, Turkey and the Philippines. It’s not simply a peripheral nation with a pathetic leader. Brazil has become the apocalyptic vanguard that signals how radical this moment is – one with the power to worsen the climate crisis at top speed and blight the entire planet.

The election of Bolsonaro is a response to what we might call civilisation’s new discontent. Maybe people can’t identify the source of their anxiety, which has driven up the consumption of tranquillisers and sedatives. The average citizen might apply more familiar labels to the corrosion of their quality of life, air, and water; to a relentless fear of the “other”; to the feeling they’re walking in quicksand. But what’s underpinning this new discontent pervading all areas of human experience is our climate crisis.

Bolsonaro was elected in October, on his pledge to go back “50 years”. Fifty years ago, Brazil lived under a military dictatorship. For Bolsonaro and his followers, who are outright defenders of torture and the elimination of adversaries, it was a glorious era. Despite the terrifying menace of nuclear war, the world was still a place where science promised nothing but progress and solutions – it delivered no bad news, like global warming, that led to limitations on an individual’s daily life or on government actions. It was a time when white, heterosexual men held power and knew precisely who they were. They may have faced some resistance from minorities, but they still enjoyed absolute hegemony.

We cannot comprehend what is now happening in Brazil – and around the world – unless we understand that our culture wars are tightly bound up with humanity’s need to say goodbye to 20th-century illusions of power and face a planet made more hostile by human hand. Things will soon reach catastrophic levels if nations and their residents do not unite in a global effort to do something extremely hard and unpopular: impose limits on ourselves to counteract global warming.

The election of Bolsonaro ties all this together like no other event. The Bolsonaro administration promises a “new era” – a return to a time free of doubts and insecurity, with certainty about what a man is and what a woman is and a clear sense who’s in charge of the public sphere and the family. Their ultra-conservatism is at times corny, at times biblical – but never innocent.

Soon after Bolsonaro’s inauguration last week, the minister of women, family, and human rights, Damares Alves – an evangelical pastor – stated in a video that now “girls wear pink and boys, blue”. Beside her, a supporter held an Israeli flag. Some neo-Pentecostals likewise waved Israeli flags at the inauguration. These religious groups, who are growing numerically and wielding greater power in Brazil, voted overwhelmingly for Bolsonaro...


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the brazilian bulldozer...


"Once the invaders have taken away the wood, they divide our land into plots and sell it," says Karipuna. The 32-year-old is wearing jeans and a T-shirt and standing in the office of the indigenous aid organization Cimi in Porto Velho, the capital of the Amazon state of Rondônia. 

The bright room is decorated with photos of people of various ethnicities while spears, bows and quivers full of arrows hang in a corner. Laura Vicuña, who heads the aid organization's local office, has just returned from a several-day trip into the protected territory. The telephone is ringing nonstop; the election victory of right-wing extremist Jair Bolsonaro has alarmed both indigenous people and aid workers. 

Less and Less Respect

"We're afraid that we could lose everything now," says Karipuna. In April, the tribe chief appealed to the international community at the United Nations in New York. He reported that deforestation has increased in the past two years, with less and less respect for protected territories. "I'm seeking the help of the United Nations to prevent a massacre of our people!" 

Bolsonaro, meanwhile, is a friend to cattle farmers, lumberjacks, gold prospectors and soybean growers -- the very types of people who present a threat to the rain forest. Their representatives in the National Congress, the representatives of the Brazilian agricultural industry, have a powerful lobby, and they supported Bolsonaro during his election campaign.



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blame bolsonaro for it...

Firefighters in Brazil are searching for about 200 people missing after a dam at an iron ore mine burst. Scores of people were trapped by the river of sludge released when the dam failed.

The dam, owned by mining firm Vale SA, partially collapsed on Friday, sending torrents of mud and sludge into the forest and villages below. The effluent washed away roads and destroyed buildings in its path.


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the ugly bolsonaro's boots...

The departure in exile of the deputy of Rio de Janeiro Jean Wyllys to "save his life" has terrified many Brazilian human rights activists. The MP, a member of the LGBT movement (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender), has announced that he will not return to his country for the "next four years", which is the full mandate of the new president — Bolsonaro — because of the death threats he continues to receive. "During the election campaign, there were at least four LGBT deaths a day, and the state still did not recognize homophobic violence. I was particularly attacked because of the "fake news" launched by the president, so much so that a Rio judge could suggest, on a Facebook thread, my execution, without any bother", he explained, Thursday, January 24, to the newspaper Folha de S. Paulo.

Jean Wyllys, 44, who was due to begin his third term on February 1, is the first openly gay MP to be elected to the federal Parliament. Since 2010, it has emerged as one of the symbols of the struggle for the rights of sexual minorities. In particular, he has faced on many occasions, and often alone, evangelical deputies whose presence in Parliament has increased significantly over the past ten years. Despite all those who waved the Bible at his words, Jean Wyllys has obtained the repeal of several articles of the Brazilian Civil Code, allowing the civil union between people of the same sex. He also fought for years for a law allowing prostitutes to benefit from a retirement fund after twenty-five years of activity.


Translation by Jules Letambour.


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