2018/10/05: Bolsonaro has warned about the danger posed by refugees from Haiti, Africa, and the Middle East, calling them “the scum of humanity” and even argued that the army should take care of them.
He regularly makes racist and misogynistic statements. For example, he accused Afro-Brazilians of being obese and lazy and defended physically punishing children to try to prevent them from being gay. He has equated homosexuality with pedophilia and told a representative in the Brazilian National Congress, “I wouldn’t rape you because you do not deserve it.”
In these and other statements, Bolsonaro’s vocabulary recalls the rhetoric behind Nazi policies of persecution and victimization. But does sounding like a Nazi make him a Nazi? Insomuch as he believes in holding elections, he is not there yet. However, things could change quickly if he gains power.
Recently, Bolsonaro argued that he would never accept defeat in the election and suggested that the army might agree with his view. This is a clear threat to democracy.
For left-wing populists, this was the case in recent years, for example, in the Néstor and Cristina Fernández de Kirchner administrations in Argentina and the Rafael Correa administration in Ecuador. On the right, there have been plenty of traditionalist populists, including Carlos Menem in Argentina and Silvio Berlusconi in Italy, who are not anti-democratic.
This is not what Bolsonaro stands for. Unlike previous forms of populism (on the left and right) that embraced democracy and rejected violence and racism, Bolsonaro’s populism harks back to Hitler’s time.