by WorldTribune Staff, October 29, 2018
Conservative candidate Jair Bolsonaro – who survived an assassination attempt and was slammed for what critics called racist, homophobic, and sexist comments – was elected president of Brazil on Oct. 28.
“We cannot continue flirting with socialism, communism, populism and the extremism of the Left,” Bolsonaro said in his victory speech. The new president takes office on Jan. 1
The so-called “Trump of the Tropics” won the presidency of the world’s fourth-largest democracy after defeating leftist Fernando Haddad. Bolsonaro won with 55.5 percent of the vote.
Brazil has been beset with crises in recent years. Its economy shrank nearly seven percent during its worst-ever recession, from 2015 to 2016; the multi-billion-dollar Petrobras scandal left voters disgusted with the corruption of politicians and business executives; and there is widespread outrage over violent crime in a country that registered a record 63,880 murders last year.
Bolsonaro, who ran on promises to clean up Brazil and bring back “traditional values,” vowed to defend “the constitution, democracy and freedom” in Brazil.
“I first want to thank God. This is not the promise of a party, nor the word of a man. It is an oath before God,” Bolsonaro said. “We will change Brazil’s destiny together.”
Bolsonaro had only campaigned via social media since being stabbed in the stomach at a rally last month, sending him to the hospital for three weeks.
“God willing, tomorrow will be our new independence day,” he tweeted on Oct. 27.
Supporters of Haddad vowed to “resist” Bolsonaro. Haddad said he would “defend freedoms” of the 45 million people who voted for him. Aides also said that Haddad had not called Bolsonaro to congratulate him.
The corporate media outside Brazil and many of his foes in the country said they had been repulsed by what they called Bolsonaro’s misogynistic, homophobic and racist rhetoric.
He once reportedly told a lawmaker he opposed that she “wasn’t worth raping”; has said he would rather see his sons die than come out as gay; and he commented after visiting one black community that they “do nothing – they’re so useless I doubt they can procreate.”
But an even larger portion of voters rejected Haddad and the tarnished Workers’ Party he represented.
Haddad stood as a surrogate for jailed ex-president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, who led Brazil from 2003 to 2010. Lula remains popular on the Left despite being accused of masterminding the massive pilfering of state oil company Petrobras. He is currently serving a 12-year prison sentence.
Antonio Henrique, a 52-year-old bank employee in Rio de Janeiro, said that he had voted for the Workers’ Party in every election since the 1980s, but crime, revelations of corruption and economic recession had him voting this time for Bolsonaro.
“Security is a serious problem,” Henrique said. “We can’t even leave home.”