The election of Jair Bolsonaro - ex army captain and far-right congressman- in Brazil confirms two painful realities: weariness with the political class –based on their own demerits- and that this disappointment, added to the lack of conciliatory forces, has left the field open to rip a deep tear in the social fabric.
The effects of similar phenomena are closely experienced in the United States and Venezuela. Disenchantment due to weariness of the traditional ways of doing politics and government leads to unforeseen and dangerous results. It is used by extreme –right and left- autocrats who encourage their followers with virulent speeches. People lose peace in a suffocating political and social climate. The price is too high, for everyone. Social peace and democracy deserve to overcome tribalisms by giving priority to respect for freedom and human rights.
Bolsonaro, like Trump and Maduro, won touching society´s most sensitive nerve: fear shielded with hate. They won without even bothering to disguise their exclusion agendas that proclaim repression – even destruction – of population sectors and of precious assets, in addition to life, such as freedom or natural resources.
In his first appearance as president-elect, he did not even make a gesture inviting national unity, not even for decorum. He had 57 million votes. His contender, Fernando Haddad, of the ruling Workers' Party, 47 million.
So many people did not only respond out of ignorance. They acted from their own racism or contempt to women, homophobia or disdain for their neighbors in need, who fled from a dictatorship similar to the one that Bolsonaro himself evokes. A dictatorship that a whole generation of Brazilians barely knows in their own flesh. And that, in any case, they identify -on the left opposite pole- with their neighbor, Venezuela.
In order for Bolsonaro to win, the groups he targeted voted for their bias in detriment of their own rights. They gave up their own security and liberties to the promise of imposing order by force.
Finding out the reasons is a must for those who value democracy.
Voters argued that they preferred a politician who, apart from his blunders, promises to restructure the government and the economy with a firm hand rather than remain bogged down.
They have suffered the institutional crisis that triggered former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva arrest, charged with money laundering and corruption. Lula was followed by his successor inconsistencies, Dilma Rousseff, impeached for accusations of public accounts irregularities. Neither the next in command, Michel Temer, cleared the national instability nor corruption accusations. Amid a serious financial crisis, crime has risen to about 60,000 murders a year.
Bolsonaro, Lula and Rousseff won supported by a powerful religious sector. The difference is that Bolsonaro made an alliance withthe most conservative sectors of the great religious groups. He also has the military support – he is part of the Army reserve.
With a Congress divided between different political forces, hope remains that, for the good of Brazil and Latin American harmony, the new president will moderate his tone and agenda when he begins his term on January 1, 2019.
This triumph of disenchantment must not lead to the uncertainty of an entire continent. Neither Puerto Rico should give space to a divisive rhetoric that destroys. Experiences here, abroad, emphasize the relevance of social unity and the search for what unites us.
Let’s turn weariness into a commitment to conciliation, to search for alternatives, privileging respect for everybody´s rights and freedom. Times call to work for peace.
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