The American far-right is falling in line behind Jair Bolsonaro, the Brazilian presidential candidate who previously praised the country’s military dictatorship and who once described a congresswoman as too ugly to rape.
Over the weekend, the BBC World Service reported David Duke, former KKK Grand Wizard and a longstanding fixture among white supremacists, had endorsed Bolsonaro. “He is totally a European descendant, he looks like any white man in the United States,” Duke said on his radio program. “He is talking about the demographic disaster that exists in Brazil and the enormous crime that exists there.”
Bolsonaro, for his part, swiftly rebuked the endorsement, tweeting that he “refuse[s] any kind of support coming from supremacists groups ” and suggested “they support my adversary, the candidate of the left party, who loves to segregate the society.”
Recuso qualquer tipo de apoio vindo de grupos supremacistas. Sugiro que, por coerência, apoiem o candidato da esquerda, que adora segregar a sociedade. Explorar isso para influenciar uma eleição no Brasil é uma grande burrice! É desconhecer o povo brasileiro, que é miscigenado.
— Jair Bolsonaro 1️⃣7️⃣ (@jairbolsonaro) October 16, 2018
However, Duke is not the only prominent right-winger offering his support to Bolsonaro. Fringe conservative commentator and film producer Dinesh D’Souza tweeted his support for Bolsonaro Wednesday, writing “I like this guy already,” in response to an article citing the devastating consequences Bolsonaro could have on the Amazon.
Bolsonaro’s son Eduardo, meanwhile, recently met with President Trump’s former chief strategist and Breitbart executive Steve Bannon, a meeting which the Bolsonaro campaign was later forced to then downplay.
It was a pleasure to meet STEVE BANNON,strategist in Donald Trump's presidential campaign.We had a great conversation and we share the same worldview.He said be an enthusiast of Bolsonaro's campaign and we are certainly in touch to join forces,especially against cultural marxism. pic.twitter.com/ceHoui6FH5
— Eduardo Bolsonaro 1720 (@BolsonaroSP) August 4, 2018
Bolsonaro, who is a candidate for Brazil’s Social Liberal Party (PSL), is currently riding high in the polls, and is on course to take 59 percent of the vote in the final round of voting on October 28. His leftist rival Fernando Haddad, of the Worker’s Party (PT), is currently polling at roughly 41 percent.
Haddad is handicapped by the fact that the PT was leading the government during the country’s worst recession, from 2013 to 2017, and was embroiled in a massive corruption scandal which ended up resulting in former President Lula da Silva being sent to prison.
The face-off between an authoritarian-leaning candidate, in Bolsonaro, and a political party which allowed an epic corruption scandal to blossom, in PT, has set the stage for bitter political contention in Brazil. Bolsonaro himself was stabbed earlier in September, while Bolsonaro supporters, according to the Brazilian Agência de Jornalismo Investigativo have been responsible for fifty acts of political violence since September 30.
Notable instances include a PT supporter having a swastika carved into her by Bolsonaro supporters, as well as a capoeira instructor being stabbed to death by a Bolsonaro supporter, and female journalists being threatened with rape.
During Brazil's election on Sunday, a female journalist in Recipe was reportedly assaulted by men who threatened to rape her. "They said when the commander wins, all the press would die," the victim recalled. https://t.co/LB7OL0npQz
— Rachel Glickhouse (@Riogringa) October 9, 2018
Looming overheard are increasing fears of what a Bolsonaro presidency would mean for the fight against climate change, particularly in light of a recent U.N. report, which warned the world has 10 years to take action on climate change before it sees an “unprecedented” change in temperatures.
Brazil, with its Amazon rainforest, is central to any sort of attempt to fight back against climate change, however Bolsonaro would dramatically curtail that. As HuffPost noted, Bolsonaro has promised to shutter the country’s Ministry of Environment, withdraw from the Paris climate accord, and open up much of the Amazon for mining.
“There is no point sugarcoating it,” Paulo Artaxo, a climate change researcher at the University of São Paulo (USP), told Science magazine. “Bolsonaro is the worst thing that could happen for the environment.”