Just days before Brazilians go to the polls to elect their next President, far right front runner Jair Bolsonaro made the following threat: “these red outlaws will be banished from our homeland. It will be a clean-up, the likes of which has never been seen in Brazilian history.” Bolsonaro, a former Army Captain and admirer of Brazil’s former military dictatorship added, “either they go overseas, or they go to jail.” He was referring to the leaders and supporters of Brazil’s left, which is tens of millions strong.
These menacing words should be treated with the upmost seriousness. In recent weeks Bolsonaro’s campaign has encouraged his far right supporters to unleash horrific violence across Brazil against the left, women, LGBT people, black people and journalists. A win for Bolsonaro – who is currently 18% ahead of the left candidate Fernando Haddad according to recent opinion polls – would be a colossal defeat for human rights and democracy and would demand immense international solidarity in support of the left in Brazil.
Such an international movement is already beginning to take shape. More than 20,000 people have signed up to the International Declaration Against Fascism in Brazil, opposing Bolsonaro’s bid to become the next President of Brazil.
Amongst the prestigious signatories is an array of prominent Latin American politicians including former President of Argentina Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, former President of Colombia Ernesto Samper and former President of Paraguay Fernando Lugo. From Europe the signatories include Francois Hollande former President of France, Felipe Gonzalez former Prime Minister of Spain and Martin Schulz former President of the European Parliament. Other European politicians supporting the statement are Jean-Luc Melenchon of France and Pablo Leduc the General Secretary of Spain’s PODEMOS. From the US, Bernie Sanders, Angela Davis and Danny Glover are amongst the signatories.
The statement says:
“We, women and men, united in our commitment to democracy and human rights, express our unequivocal reject of far-right candidate Jair Bolsonaro, a contender in the second round of Brazil’s presidential elections on October 2018.
The positions that this candidate has defended throughout his public life and during the current electoral campaign are based on xenophobic, racist, misogynistic and homophobic values.
This far-right candidate openly defends the violent methods deployed by military dictatorships, including torture and assassinations.
Positions such as these are a threat to any free, tolerant and just society.
In the second round of the election, the people of Brazil will be making a choice of paramount importance, between liberty and pluralism and retrograde authoritarianism, with a lasting impact, not only for Brazil but also for Latin America, the Caribbean and the rest of the world.
We call on Brazilians to reflect on the gravity of this pivotal moment in history.
There can be no neutrality in the choice between democracy and fascism.”
International support for Lula da Silva, who is currently in prison on politically-motivated, trumped up charges of corruption, is also needed. Had Lula been allowed to stand for President he would have won. Instead Brazil’s conservative courts, which are closely allied to the US, jailed Lula to prevent him from standing in this election. Bolsonaro has said he intends to leave Lula “to rot in jail.”
Today, campaigners in Britain have launched a new campaign to support human rights, democracy and social progress in Brazil. All left and progressive people should support the Brazil Solidarity Initiative to take a stand against the dangerous rise of Jair Bolsonaro and the far right in Brazil.