Gabeira is now seventy-eight. A lean man with silver hair and rimless glasses, he lives in an apartment near Ipanema Beach. Working as a television interviewer, he spoke with Bolsonaro supporters during the campaign, trying to understand their motivations.
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Brazil, particularly in the countryside, is a traditionalist, Catholic country, and at times the urban left has made it easy for Bolsonaro to score points. Last year, amid a debate on gender identity, the chancellor decreed that the female school uniform was valid for both sexes, and some male students and teachers began wearing skirts to class. Conservative parents were furious. In situations like these, Bolsonaro has deftly exploited conservative resentments. Under Rousseff, the government offended traditionalists by legalizing same-sex marriage and designing materials for schools to combat homophobia.
During the Presidential race, Bolsonaro repeatedly told crowds that the P. For gay Brazilians, these actions intensified a sense of siege. There has been an alarming increase in homophobic attacks. Some L. In the Rio neighborhood of Lapa, Halisson Paes, a forty-one-year-old lawyer, showed me the gym where he and his friends have been practicing Krav Maga, the Israeli system of self-defense.
In January, his human-rights ministry removed L. Girls wear pink, and boys wear blue. The influence of evangelical Christians has increased tremendously in Brazil, especially among poor and working-class people; as many as thirty per cent of Brazilians now regard themselves as evangelical, up from a minuscule number a few decades ago. At sixty-one, Crivella has been an engineer, a gospel singer, a missionary in Africa, a federal senator, and a minister of fisheries.
He is also a bishop in the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God, a neo-Pentecostal sect with millions of followers.
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Macedo threw his support behind Bolsonaro late in the Presidential race. Crivella, casually dressed in slacks and a blue shirt, was disarmingly friendly, although two aides sat nearby, filming our conversation. He told me that his political work was divinely inspired. At the time of our grandfathers, Brazil was coffee, and coffee was the blacks. These people built the country, working more than any other people. Unfortunately, today—I would say because of our unequal society—three out of every four prison inmates are blacks.
In Brazil, questions of race are omnipresent. During the three centuries before Brazil abolished slavery, in , it imported an estimated four million African slaves. Over time, escaped slaves carved out communities from the wilderness, which became known as quilombos.
Lula and Dilma saw Brazilians of African descent as their constituents, and made sure that the quilombos benefitted from government programs and from new infrastructure. Bolsonaro has long griped about such special dispensations. The road there runs through the jungly Iguape River valley, past banana plantations, an Apostolic church named the Last Call, and small farmhouses with red-tiled roofs. Lula, in his first term, had carried out a program called Light for All, bringing rural communities throughout Brazil onto the power grid.
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The P. He was now the headmaster of an elementary school in a neighboring community. But in the election Bolsonaro had gained voters in bedrock P. Most still support the P. One of them is Carlos Pedro da Silva, a stocky black man of fifty, known in the neighborhood as Pedrinho. They are used to that. But for the older people their conservative values are more important than fighting for their color. To whom do I owe this? To my own efforts. Not to the left, which treats us as victims. People needed to learn how to pull themselves up by their own bootstraps.
In the farm town of Canarana, in central Brazil, indigenous hunter-gatherers come to market to buy staples: tobacco, rice, medicine. On the way, they pass Cargill grain silos and a John Deere dealership that sells tractors to commercial farms in the area.
Towns like this mark a political fault line. In the Brazilian interior, a vast area with few roads or railways, the battles for land and survival among settlers, miners, ranchers, and indigenous groups recall life on the early American frontier. Under Lula, the government constrained commercial activity in the region, reducing deforestation by more than seventy per cent. Bolsonaro views environmental protections as a senseless brake on development. They are exploited and manipulated by NGOs. Three Xavante were waiting for me at a little bus station—burly men with long black hair and wooden plugs in their earlobes.
Their leader was Jamiro, a friendly man in his thirties who spoke Portuguese. We filled their car with provisions and headed off. After the Portuguese conquistadores enslaved them, in the eighteenth century, they fled to the western state of Mato Grosso. In the sixties, white ranchers began moving in on their land, and conflict ensued, until, in , the government declared their territory a federal preserve.
They ended up with eight disconnected tracts, spread out over several hundred miles—islets of wilderness surrounded by what is now a Kansas-size expanse of industrial farms. Within days of taking office, Bolsonaro transferred control of FUNAI to a newly created ministry led by Damares Alves, an ultraconservative evangelical pastor.
The power to set aside reserves was given to the agriculture ministry, overseen by Tereza Cristina Dias, the former leader of the congressional farm caucus. Marina Silva, a prominent environmentalist and former legislator, told me that these actions evoked the influx of settlement that devastated Native Americans in the U.
They are used by government officials. Two hours outside Canarana, the soy fields gave way to bush, and Jamiro explained that we had entered the reservation. In a ceremony during my visit, they paused the chanting so that the older men could speak. So our concern is not just about us. It was the Devil that saved him. And the other one, too. Jamiro nodded.
He referred again to Bolsonaro. That is how he sends us our food. We have to take care of nature.
If nature is finished off, everything is going to burst. In March, while Brazil was celebrating carnaval , Bolsonaro posted a video on social media in which two men gave an ad-lib demonstration of sexual kink before a cheering crowd. Critics rushed to argue that posting sex videos online, even by way of negative example, was not Presidential behavior.
Others noted that the scene was not representative of carnaval , which this year was distinguished mostly by protests against Bolsonaro. The samba school that was judged the best in the parade presented a retelling of Brazilian history from the perspective of black citizens and indigenous people. It also paid tribute to Marielle Franco, the councilwoman who was killed last year. Bebianno, who denied any wrongdoing, was soon fired. The other has been photographed greeting Bolsonaro with a friendly embrace. Unlike his boss, he stayed in the military for forty-six years, retiring in as a four-star general.
Bolsonaro and Mr. Trump, so I think that for the first time in years we have a government in Brazil that is pro-U.