In 2003, Jair Bolsonaro was caught on tape telling a congresswoman that she wasn’t “worthy of being raped” and in 2019, he was elected as Brazil’s new president. This is just one of many situations which shed a light on the alarming mentality of Brazil’s new Commander in Chief and highlights the necessity of discussing the dangers such individuals pose when they are put in positions of power.
Most Brazilians placed their trust in Bolsonaro hoping that he would have an answer to the nation’s escalating crime and economic hardships but seemingly failed to consider the consequences of giving a radical a platform to exercise his beliefs. Since being sworn into office, Bolsonaro has run a campaign littered by extremism and homophobia that has undermined the cultural and political progression of Brazil. As president, he has advocated for the passing of loosened gun laws that ease the purchase of ammunition. Moreover, Bolsonaro has withdrawn state funding from an LGBT themed series and deemed the decision of Brazil’s Supreme Court to criminalize homophobia as “completely wrong.” Women have also expressed their discontent with the president by taking to the streets to protest his policies.
But above all else, Bolsonaro poses a major threat to the world’s greatest oxygen source, the Amazon. According to The Economist, “trees have been disappearing at a rate of two Manhattans each week” ever since Bolsanaro was elected. More recently, when the Amazon was being consumed by wildfires Bolsonaro refused to accept a $20 million aid from the G7, claiming that what was happening solely concerned Brazil. The G7 meeting was followed by Bolsonaro and French president, Emmanuel Macron, exchanging insults when trying to come to a conclusion over the situation in the Amazon, which ended in the Brazilian president’s refusal to accept aid. The situation is heightened by Bolsonaro’s pettiness, which comes on full display when he responds to a meme mocking the French president’s wife’s appearance by saying, “Don’t humiliate the guy… haha.” Presidents are often revered and looked at as moral leaders, but in this case, Bolsonaro serves as a prime example of what they should not do.
With all that in mind, it should not come as a surprise that Bolsanaro has the lowest approval rating of any Brazilian president ever in the first 100-day mark. When asked about two of the best government actions that have emerged since Bolsonaro’s election, 18.93% of respondents claimed that there were none.
Having such individuals in positions of power highlights the importance of voting. In such a globalized world, where one country’s actions could have a ripple effect on other nations, it is necessary for citizens to claim the responsibility of choosing rightful representatives. The more passive we become to such issues, the more we allow ourselves to become part of the problem. The world doesn’t need another Bolsonaro to breed chaos before we realize it has been enough.