Time for Brazil to wake up
No people is stupid. Everyone deserves the government they get. Next week, the Brazilian people have a choice between sensationalism and common sense.
Next Sunday, the Brazilian people will not choose between the government programmes of the leader of PSL (Social Liberal Party, right) and PT (Workers' Party, center-left). They will choose between the sensationalist candidate, Jair Bolsonaro, an ex-army captain who was sentenced to a prison term in the past, labeled by some as "The Myth" and Fernando Haddad, an academic with a degree in law, a master's in economics and a doctorate in philosophy.
In any normal country Bolsonaro would not be a candidate
In any normal, civilized country, Bolsonaro would not get anywhere the Presidency except pehaps in the United States of America basically because as a rule, the people are not stupid and they take politics seriously. The reason why is because Bolsonaro has already declared that he would not rape a lady (addressed to a politician) because she did not deserve it, because he has made racist comments, because he has made homophobic comments declaring if a son of his was gay he would prefer him to die in a car crash.
Because he arrived in Minas Gerais State and declared that he was "also from São Paulo" (another state - he did not even know where he was). Because he was implicated then absolved in a plan to plant bombs in military barracks in Rio de Janeiro (terrorism), despite being considered guilty by a unanimous decision by the Council of Military Justification. Because he declared his support for a military dictatorship in 1993 (forgetting the horrendous crimes of that regime including torture and rape between 1964 and 1975), because in 1999 he stated before the election of President Fernando Henrique Cardoso that he would change nothing with the vote, only by a civil war "doing the work that the military regime did not do. Killing some 30 thousand, starting with Fernando Henrique Cardoso, not leaving him out, no. Killing! If some innocent people die, that's OK, everything when it's war dies innocent".
A type of politician
And so on, just to give an idea, not of the person, but of the type of politician who is leading the Brazilian opinion polls, and this is the type of politician leading a type of team which wishes to govern Brazil for the next four years. And what is this exactly?
It is a type of politician whose control of the Portuguese language is at best iffy, with the grammar all over the place, it is the type of politician who appears when the people are tired of the government of the same party (PT), when they are tired of government corruption scandals and when the opposing candidate is gray, belonging to the same PT, in a country in which everyday street violence is front page news.
Crime and drugs
Brazil has entire programmes aired on TV channels dedicated to crime. "Terrible crime, old lady killed". There is paraded a young man (before any court case), with a question fired at him by a reporter: "Why did you kill your aunty?" "I killed her but I didn't mean to". True, street violence in Brazil, mainly on the periphery of cities and among drugs cartels, is rife and among those making a fortune out of drugs and the misery of others, the value of human life is meaningless.
True, in Brazil it is difficult for Federal Policies to be effective because any funds are syphoned off by corrupted politicians at every level of governance. In many political parties
For an uninstructed, ignorant and gullible people, who believe in sensationalist, easy solutions to serious, complex problems, someone like Jair "The Myth" Bolsonaro is a Messiah (curiously, his second name). His solution is to loosen arms control and machine-gun the favelas and imprison all corrupt politicians. Conclusion: social chaos would ensue with the murder rate spiraling to civil war proportions (if it has not already) and as regards corruption, it is an infantile supposition to claim that all corruption is the feud of PT. It is not - many parties are involved.
Bolsonaro has been in prison. Haddad has not. Bolsonaro is today accused of fraud, Haddad is not. Bolsonaro is a racist. Haddad is not. Bolsonaro is a sexist. Haddad is not. Bolsonaro is a homophobe. Haddad is not. Bolsonaro does not know how to speak his own language properly. Haddad does. Bolsonaro is not prepared to be President of Brazil, Haddad is.
Haddad may be gray, he might have the charisma of a squashesd slug lying under a tonne of sea salt but he is educated, an academic, he knows how to represent Brazil abroad, because he will be the Ambassador of his country (imagine Bolsonaro at a State dinner sitting beside Queen Elizabeth II..."You isn't poor, is you? If you was poor, you aren't here, is you? With all these person around you"). And Haddad has a team that knows what it is doing.
The solution in Brazil is not to elect a sensationalist who is greeted by crowds asking him to put on a military beret and to wear sunglasses so that they can take a selfie with him. "Go on, put this beret on! Put these sunglasses on. Wow, The Myth!" They may as well ask him to don a dress and a wig, or paint him as a clown and asking him what his economic policy is, although probably he does not even know what economics means. As he has allegedly admitted.
The solution is to attack corruption at all levels of governance and not spread lies that corruption lies at the feet of one party only. The solution is to get serious about drug trafficking, starting at the top and taking out those calling the shots, which includes fine-combing the police and the military. This is not a programme for four years, it is a programme for at least 15 (two political cycles) to even start to make a difference.
And as for social problems, as we have seen elsewhere in Latin America, you need social investment, not idiotic policies to cut salaries and strangle the economy by taking money out of it. Lula and his PT lifted tens of millions of Brazilians out of poverty and despite international economic tsunamis, Brazil's economy and society were stable.
Serious economic and social tensions
With Bolsonaro, Brazil faces serious social tensions, misery, an explosion of violence and a total lack of control because electing Bolsonaro is placing a bull in a china shop.
The solution is to reinforce the efficacy of justice - how it is possible that one of the candidates - Bolsonaro - is accused of the crime of electoral fraud and the deliberation will come only after the election?
Everyone has had their fun, everyone has had a party shouting "The Myth" and deriding the Workers' Party as being incompetent and corrupt. Time now to get serious and take politics seriously. The Workers' Party did more form Brazil than any other in the history of its democracy, the military dictatorship deprived Brazil of its chance to catch up with the rest of the world. Bolsonaro will take Brazil backwards, not forwards, because he does not have the qualifications to represent Brazil.
In any other country, Bolsonaro would not get anywhere near the Presidency. Time for common sense to rule over sensationalism. Brazil is not a circus and it certainly does not need a clown.
Haddad, winner of no fewer than seven prizes for excellence in municipal management in São Paulo, including Best Mayor of Latin America, is the candidate of social investment and not social terrorism, he is the candidate of serious measures to continue the programs which improved Brazilian society and gave Brazil its place on the international stage. He is an executive.
Photo: Monumento to the victims of torture in Recife
*Timothy Bancroft-Hinchey has worked as a correspondent, journalist, deputy editor, editor, chief editor, director, project manager, executive director, partner and owner of printed and online daily, weekly, monthly and yearly publications, TV stations and media groups printed, aired and distributed in Angola, Brazil, Cape Verde, East Timor, Guinea-Bissau, Portugal, Mozambique and São Tomé and Principe Isles; the Russian Foreign Ministry publication Dialog and the Cuban Foreign Ministry Official Publications. He has spent the last two decades in humanitarian projects, connecting communities, working to document and catalog disappearing languages, cultures, traditions, working to network with the LGBT communities helping to set up shelters for abused or frightened victims and as Media Partner with UN Women, working to foster the UN Women project to fight against gender violence and to strive for an end to sexism, racism and homophobia. A Vegan, he is also a Media Partner of Humane Society International, fighting for animal rights. He is Director and Chief Editor of the Portuguese version of Pravda.Ru. He is an official translator, a coach, a consultant and a professor.