Ahead of incoming Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro's inauguration, scheduled for Jan. 1, 46 global civil society groups issued an open statement warning that he poses "a serious threat to democracy, human rights, and the environment," and vowing to challenge "hateful rhetoric and acts of violence, intimidation, or persecution" against communities and organizations he has attacked.
"The election of right-wing extremist Jair Bolsonaro as Brazil's next president represents a crisis for indigenous rights, the Amazon rainforest, and our global climate."
—Christian Poirier, Amazon Watch
The statement (pdf), published in English and Portuguese, highlights the president-elect's notable history of making racist, misogynistic, and homophobic proclamations—from declaring that if any of his sons were gay, he'd hope that they would die in an accident, to telling a female fellow lawmaker that she didn't deserve to be raped by him.
"Bolsonaro's hate speech has targeted numerous groups with long struggles against oppression and discrimination," the statement notes. "Beyond these abhorrent verbal attacks, we are particularly concerned about a number of Bolsonaro's policy proposals that, if implemented, can be expected to inflict far-reaching and lasting damage on Brazilian communities and on the environment."
As the statement outlines:
Bolsonaro has threatened to slash environmental safeguards on the Amazon's protected forests while abolishing constitutional land rights over indigenous territories in order to enable the expansion of destructive agribusiness, logging, and mining operations. These plans would inevitably provoke profound and irreversible environmental damage, destroy indigenous communities and cultures, and trigger violent land conflicts. They can also be expected to significantly hinder global efforts to fight climate change.
The former military officer also has endorsed extrajudicial killings, defended Brazil's military dictatorship, and promised that his administration will shutter the Ministries of Labor and Human Rights.
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The statement's signatories—which include AFL-CIO, Friends of the Earth USA, Global Witness, and CODEPINK—vow to not only "support those in Brazil who oppose authoritarianism and continue to defend democracy and the basic rights of all the country's inhabitants," but also to "expose the international enablers of Bolsonaro's destructive agenda."
While some have declared Boslonaro—who has been embraced by the Trump administration—the President Donald Trump of the Tropics, The Intercept's Glenn Greenwald and others have argued that Brazil's next president actually poses an even greater threat to human rights and democracy than his U.S. counterpart.
"It is important that people in these communities in Brazil who have struggled so long for equality know that they are not alone. We will support them."
—Dr. Gladys Mitchell-Walthour, Brazil Studies Association
"The election of right-wing extremist Jair Bolsonaro as Brazil's next president represents a crisis for indigenous rights, the Amazon rainforest, and our global climate," Amazon Watch program director Christian Poirier said in a statement.
"A spike in violent attacks against indigenous peoples and social movements has already occurred since the election. Brazil's human rights and environmental community will not back down in the face of this emergency," Poirier concluded, "and neither will we in our support for them."
"We will do our best to support Brazilian academics, activists, and citizens in general," added Dr. Gladys Mitchell-Walthour, president of the Brazil Studies Association, another signatory. "It is important that people in these communities in Brazil who have struggled so long for equality know that they are not alone. We will support them."