October 6, 2018
by Jawad Al Sayegh
This week, Brazilians will head to the ballots to elect their next President. Most polls project frontrunner Jair Bolsonaro, whom people locally call the “Trump of Brazil” as the winner, either in the first or second rounds. The leading Presidential candidate has been portrayed by his leftist opposition, and now by the Brazilian mainstream media, as a “far right” politician, a “racist” and a “misogynist” the exact terms used by Trump’s political enemies during the latter’s Presidential campaign in 2016.
Though this may be the narrative used by clashing parties during the heat of a campaign, the political reality is different. Bolsonaro, based upon his campaign’s platform, is more of a “strong conservative” rather than a “far right” extremist.
We’ve inquired with a friend of the candidate, a Brazilian-American businessman who hopes for a Bolsonaro victory, if the latter can be described as extreme right or traditional conservative. Marcello Moufarrege, a native of Sao Paolo, and a business analyst focusing on the US-Brazilian economic partnership said: “Bolsonaro is a kind person, who was initially a businessman concerned about the utter failures of the previous leftist Government.” He argued that the frontrunner is actually the product of his predecessors’ catastrophic mismanagement of Brazilian economy. “This country of about 210 million inhabitants is the largest in Latin America and one of the richest in natural resources in the world. The socialist governments, including that of M. Lula, ruined it. Now voters will elect a leader who wants to make Brazil Great Again, as American voters elected Donald Trump to ‘make America Great again.’ It’s the same thing.”
Moufarrege explained that the Bolsonaro platform could be summarized as: “A respect for family and tradition; conservatism, anti-corruption; separating financial transactions from ideologies; counter-terrorism and anti-violence; unite the Brazilian people beyond races and classes; and resuscitate Brazil’s credibility.”
Dr Walid Phares, a former foreign policy advisor to President Trump during the 2016 campaign told Fox News that “Brazil after the election, will side with the United States on international issues.” He expanded on al Arabiya on the geopolitical consequences of a Bolsonaro Presidency: “He will strengthen counter terrorist forces in South America, fight extremism and become a partner of the Trump Administration in the Western Hemisphere and in the Middle East,” Phares said. “His election would bring change on the continent in terms of the alliance against terror, a further isolation of radicals, and a partnership with Colombia, Argentina, Peru and others to combat international terrorism, such as Hezbollah and ISIS.”
Bolsonaro said publically that he will push back against the regimes of Venezuela and Cuba and adopt a pro-Western position against radicals in the Middle East. Phares projected that such a new government in Brasilia will also work with the Arab Alliance and the international coalition against terror.
Moufarrege added that “millions of Brazilians will create change in Brazil as millions of Americans produced a change in the United States. We expect a quick amelioration of economic and financial relations with the US and NAFTA.” He added, “Brazil is a dormant economic giant who needs to wake up and take its respectable place in the world. Just imagine, under a Bolsonaro administration, there will be a serious partner for the US in South America. There is also an economic opening for Brazil in Europe and the Middle East. Our resources, including in water and energy are massive. Bolsonaro’s election will be good news not only to Brazilians, but also to the Western Hemisphere, America and the world.”
Senator Flavio Bolsonaro, the candidate’s son, told Moufarrege whom we interviewed, that “one of the priorities of the new President will be to initiate a set of contacts with Latin American and US leaders to reevaluate the relationships and begin coordination on security and economic levels.”
It is also noted that Bolsonaro was stabbed by a radical leftist just weeks before the election. “This aggression against a peaceful candidate,” said Marcello Moufarrege, “tipped the scale in favor of Bolsonaro. People hate violence and despise the methods of terrorists. I remember how candidate Trump was attacked by violent activists during his rallies. Violence encourages voters to stand with the victim”
Phares, who had met Brazilian officials and had visited Brazil years ago, argued that “Bolsonaro may be perceived by Brazilians as a Reagan conservative, but living in much tougher political conditions.”
Jawad Al Sayegh is a Senior Correspondent for independent liberal newspaper, Elaph.