Explained: Jair Bolsonaro, the Brazilian President with quite a few extreme views

Om Marathe
Explained: Jair Bolsonar, the Brazilian President with quite a few extreme views

Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro looks on as he leaves the Alvorada Palace in Brasilia, Brazil January 22, 2020. (Reuters Photo: Adriano Machado)

On Friday, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro will begin his four-day visit to the country, his first since coming to power last year. Bolsonaro will be the chief guest at India’s 71st Republic Day celebrations. Bolsonaro will be accompanied by seven ministers, chairman of the Brazil-India Friendship Group in Brazilian Parliament, senior officials, and a large business delegation.

Explained: Who is Jair Bolsonaro?

A far-right populist, President Jair Bolsonaro is the most radical occupant of Brazil’s top office since the return of democracy to the country in 1985. Bolsonaro is proudly homophobic, openly misogynistic, swears by family and religious values, and has vowed to “cleanse” Brazil of corruption.

He won the country’s presidential elections late last year after running on a far-right platform that many likened to that of US President Donald Trump.

For many years, Bolsonaro had been on the fringes of Brazilian politics, but was suddenly propelled to prominence after a major corruption scandal-tainted the image of the country’s mainstream political class.

The disenchantment with politicians was coupled with anxiety over an economic recession that was considered to be the worst in 100 years.

In that situation, Bolsonaro was able to successfully brand himself as an anti-establishment crusader.

Also read | Ahead of Bolsonaro’s visit on Republic Day, a look at India-Brazil ties

Bolsonaro’s rhetoric

During his campaign and even after taking office at the beginning of this year, Bolsonaro has faced stiff opposition in Brazil for his far-right views. He has made several controversial remarks on race, gender, and sexual orientation, and has praised Brazil’s military dictatorship era of 1964-1985.

In 2016, during impeachment proceedings against former leftist President Dilma Rousseff, who was jailed and tortured during the dictatorship era, Bolsonaro dedicated his vote to the colonel who tortured her.

In 2018, he was charged by Brazil’s public prosecutor for inciting discrimination against black people, indigenous people, women and gays.


When a female legislator in Brazil accused him of being a rapist, Bolsonaro said, “I wouldn’t rape you because you don’t deserve it.”

Bolsonaro has also said he “would be incapable of loving a homosexual son” and has described having a daughter as a “weakness”. He has also said, “If I see two men kissing in the street, I will hit them.”

The Brazilian leader is also a staunch climate change sceptic. During his election campaign, he had called climate change predictions a hoax, and advocated allowing businesses to expand by rolling back environmental safeguards.

Bolsonaro holds controversial views about the land rights of indigenous communities that populate the Amazon forest. He has openly expressed disdain for environmental activists and NGOs.

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