Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s chief guest for tomorrow’s Republic Day parade is far-right politician and Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro. Here’s a little bit about the man who will adorn the stands as a nation as varied as India will celebrate its diversity.
A retired army captain who served during the years of the brutal military dictatorship that ruled Brazil from 1964 to 1985, Bolsonaro is a far-right politician who is known for his unabashedly misogynistic, homophobic and militaristic views.
“She’s not my type. I would never rape her. I’m not a rapist, but if I were, I wouldn’t rape her because she doesn’t deserve it,” he said about a fellow lawmaker in Congress.
In 2011, when asked what he would do if his son fell in love with a black woman, he replied, “I don’t run that risk because my sons were very well educated.”
Quilombolas, who are descendants of Afro-Brazilian slaves, have been his regular targets. In a speech in 2017, Bolsonaro said the following about a black settlement in Brazil founded by the descendants of slaves: “They do nothing. They are not even good for procreation,” he said.
This is his latest on the indigenous people of Brazil. Just a few days back, he said, “Indians are undoubtedly changing…They are increasingly becoming human beings just like us.”
Bolsonaro has described having a daughter as a "weakness". He had also said he would rather have one of his four sons "die in an accident" than be gay.
His homophobic nature came to the fore when he said, “I would prefer that my son die in an accident than show up with some guy with a moustache.”
Even the United Nations has not been spared. He called the UN “a bunch of communists” in a bizarre comment.
He had also expressed his support for torture, had spoken fondly of Brazil’s past military dictatorship, and had said before his election win that socialists would have to go overseas or go to jail if he won. In 2015, Bolsonaro went so far as to call it “glorious.”
In 2016, he voted to impeach then-President Dilma Rousseff — indicating that he did so in honour of the deceased chief of secret police in Sao Paulo, who oversaw the torture of hundreds under military rule. Incidentally, Rousseff herself had been imprisoned and tortured by the dictatorship.
“A policeman who doesn’t kill,” he has said, “isn’t a policeman.”
He has said that the military regime’s “biggest mistake was to torture and not kill.”
Bolsonaro has scrapped Brazil’s human rights minister and created a position of a minister of “family values.” He has placed an ultraconservative pastor in the post.
He had also vowed to revise school textbooks to remove references to feminism, homosexuality and violence against women.
But his most caustic comments have been reserved for the indigenous people of Brazil. While Amazon, home to those inhabitants and huge mineral and natural resources, burnt and Bolsonaro watched, the world came together to condemn the horrific destruction of the world’s largest rain forest.
Here are the comments:
“It’s a shame that the Brazilian cavalry hasn’t been as efficient as the Americans, who exterminated the Indians.” - Correio Braziliense newspaper, April 12, 1998
“The Indians do not speak our language, they do not have money, they do not have culture. They are native peoples. How did they manage to get 13% of the national territory.” - Campo Grande News, April 22, 2015
“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.” - Campo Grande News, April 22, 2015
“I fought with Jarbas Passarinho [former minister of Justice] right here. I fought with him about the high treason he committed in demarcating the Yanomami reserve. Criminal.” - Interview with Marcelo Godoy, Estado de São Paulo, April 2, 2017
“Not a centimetre will be demarcated either as an indigenous reserve or as a Quilombola [territory for descendents of African slave communities].” - Hebrew Club, Rio de Janeiro April 3, 2017. (He later corrected himself, saying he meant millimetre)
“You can be sure that if I get there [elected President of Brazil] there will be no money for NGOs. If it’s up to me, every citizen will have a firearm in the house.” - Estadao, April 3, 2017
“In 2019, we’re going to rip up Raposa Serra do Sol [Indigenous Territory in Roraima, northern Brazil]. We’re going to give all the ranchers guns” – Statement in Congress, January 21, 2016