The far-right Brazilian candidate and the women’s movement fighting fascism
12 October 2018
On 7 October millions of Brazilians across the world voted in the presidential elections - 46% of them voted for the far-right candidate Jair Bolsonaro, dubbed ‘The Brazilian Trump’. In London I queued up for three hours, along with hundreds of other Brazilians living in the UK, to vote and fight against him.
His politics of hate
As I approached the Brazilian embassy, on the sunny and cold Brazilian presidential election day, the first thing I noticed was the protests for and against Bolsonaro. Getting closer I was shocked to discover the battle cry of ‘Ele Não’ (Not Him) was in danger of being drowned out by the ‘Ele Sim’ (Yes him).
Bolsonaro is well-known for his inflammatory racist, sexist, homophobic comments. He has said that his sons would never bring home a man or a black woman because ‘they have been educated properly’. Inside congress, after being accused of encouraging rape, he told a fellow congresswoman that she didn’t even deserved to get raped. Later he repeated his comments to a newspaper and stated he wouldn’t rape her because she was ‘ugly’ and ‘not his type’. He has also lauded the military dictatorship in Brazil (which ran from 1964-1985), has stated that torture is a legitimate practice, and that individuals should be able to carry guns to shoot criminals indiscriminately.
Bolsonaro is a fervent neoliberal who intends to privatise state companies should he be elected. Like Trump, Bolsonaro dismisses climate change. He wants to pull out of the Paris agreement and get rid of the ministry of environment. He vows that on becoming president he would ban NGOs such as WWF and Greenpeace from the country, open indigenous territories for mining and construct a highway running through the middle of the Amazon.
His supporters believe that he will bring ‘order’ to the country and that he will stop the country from ‘going red like Venezuela’. The pro-Bolsonaro protest outside the embassy in London exposed all of his fascist tendencies. Some people mimicked shooting us with hand gestures whilst others waved signs with ‘Army Discipline Now’ printed on them. After the voting polls had shut, his supporters went up to the embassy’s doors and started banging on it demanding to know the results straightaway. Five police cars were called to deal with the situation.
Similar scenes took place outside the voting poll in Lisbon, Portugal, where a video has emerged of a Bolsonaro supporter shouting at women that he is proud to be ‘heterosexual, white and a fascist.’ The violence of Bolsonaro’s words has even spurred some of his supporters on to kill. After the vote a popular musician, Moa del Katendê was stabbed to death, in northern Brazil, by a Bolsonaro supporter after disclosing his opposition to the candidate.
Nonetheless the movement against this new brand of far-right politics is growing and it is being led by women. As Bolsonaro’s popularity started to soar, so did organising against him. A Facebook group was created called ‘Women United Against Bolsonaro’ (Mulheres Unidas Contra Bolsonaro), it has served as a platform to organise protests against him and now has over 4 million members. On 30 September tens of thousands of people joined marches against the candidate across Brazil. In many other cities around the world similar protests were organised. In London, resounding cries of ‘Ele Nao/Not Him’ in English and Portuguese echoed through the streets of Westminster as hundreds joined the protests against Bolsonaro’s politics of hate. Global support for the fight against the far-right candidate has also received international celebrity endorsement. Cher and Madonna stated their opposition using the hashtag #EleNão (#NotHim) and Pink Floyd’s Roger Waters compared Bolsonaro to Trump and Nigel Farage during his concert in Brazil.
On the day of the first round of voting the group ‘Brazilian Women Against Fascism - UK’ organised a demonstration outside the Brazilian Embassy to oppose the far-right contender. From 11am around 50 women, men and children gathered outside the embassy united under the slogan ‘Ele Não’ written on purple hearts. Even renowned feminist Judith Butler came along and joined in with the protest, proudly holding an ‘Ele Não’ purple heart in solidarity. After having left the inferno of the Brazilian embassy, where hundreds of people crowded into a small room to cast their votes, I crossed the road to stand in solidarity with my fellow Brazilian antifascists. For hours we chanted infamous antifascist, feminist slogans in Portuguese such as ‘machistas, fascistas não passarão’ (misogynists, fascists, you shall not pass).
An international antifascist front
Bolsonaro won in London with over 50% of the vote. Judging by the number of Bolsonaro T-shirts I saw on people who were queuing and the raucous noise his supporters were making, I’m not surprised. However we are organised and ready for the next round. Brazilian Women Against Fascism-UK will be there at the Brazilian embassy during the next round of voting on 28 October. There will also be another ‘Not Him’ march on 20 October to demonstrate the importance of choosing democracy over dictatorship. International support is welcome and encouraged; join us on the march to resist the rise of fascism spreading across the world.
We must oppose fascism everywhere and anywhere it rears its ugly head. Brazilian Women Against Fascism-UK will be joining other groups such as Sisters Uncut on the feminist antifascist bloc to oppose the DFLA on 13 October. It is only through international solidarity against a politics of fear and hate that we can defeat fascism before it truly takes the reign of power globally. I urge people to get clued up about what is going on in Brazil. What happens in Brazil affects us all; it is in danger of becoming another country run by a racist, neoliberal demagogue with little regard for human rights or the climate. It is up to us all to fight for a better world. Only together can we successfully fight these tyrants.
Photo credit: Camila Fontenele