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He’s been president a week – and already Bolsonaro is damaging Brazil

8 317 6540

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........

© The Guardian