Brazil President-Elect Causes Concern


Lianna Brown ’22 , Staff Writer

On Oct. 28, Jair Bolsonaro won the Brazilian presidential election, which has caused far-reaching concern, notwithstanding members of the Dickinson community.

According to an article published by BBC on Oct. 29, Bolsonaro won the election with 55.2% of the vote to gain victory over Fernando Haddad. Haddad was of the Worker’s Party [PT], a left-wing party in Brazil.

On Oct. 28, The New York Times published an article that referred to the election of populist Bolsonaro as “the nation’s most radical political change since democracy was restored more than 30 years ago.” The same article also stated that Bolsonaro is “further to the right” than any other president in Latin America, where Brazil is the largest nation. 

Carolina Castellanos, associate professor of Spanish and Portuguese and chair of Latin American, Latino & Caribbean studies, teaches Brazilian literature and culture at Dickinson. She is worried about the outcome of this election. “My concerns regarding Bolsonaro are many,” said Castellanos. “He has publicly admitted that the [right-wing military] dictatorship [from 1964 to 1985] was good. Bolsonaro even stated that torturing people was good.” 

Castellanos said “I hope Brazilians don’t lose hope and continue to fight for the protection of human rights and vulnerable populations. The country is very polarized right now.”

Political Science Professor Toby Reiner said, “I was not especially surprised about the election vote and that I am worried about the outcome, as it suggests the continued spread of hard-right politics after it seemed in 2017 as though there was some resistance.”

Mason McIntyre ’22, who is taking the first-year seminar the Race in Brazil: Challenging Discourses, said, “I am concerned with the Brazil election because the new president and political party the country has decided to support is aligned with the ideas of old; they are now supporting fascism and ideals that promote racism, hate and discrimination.”

Cecilia Ribordy ’22, a Brazilian citizen from Sao Paulo, said “I had a feeling Bolsonaro would win. After the economic crisis in Brazil, and all the things going on with Lava Jato, people kind of lost faith in Brazilian politics and a lot of people resented the PT Party. People wanted to see change and since voter education is lacking in Brazil, a lot of people voted on Bolsonaro without knowing any better.” 

Ribordy also expressed concerns with attacks on freedom of expression in Brazil, referring to a Nov. 1 article from The Guardian concerning this, she said, “It’s all about how military officials have been confiscating teaching materials [from] universities that speak on fascism. It’s an obvious attack on people’s freedom of speech and is an example of what we’ll probably be seeing in the next years.”