Many Brazilians — especially those who are (or care for the rights of) women, black people, LGBT folk, workers, or leftists — feared the coming of New Year’s Day 2019, as far-right evangelical fundamentalist Jair Bolsonaro took power as president.
In his first speech as president, behind lines of armed police to intimidate the press, Bolsonaro promised to fight socialism, “gender ideology”, and the colour red. His inauguration was boycotted by the Workers’ Party (PT) and the Socialism and Liberty Party (PSOL) in protest, but neither those parties nor any other group organised major protest demonstrations for the day.
Bolsonaro’s first act as president was to lower the minimum salary from 1006 reais (approx. £211) to 998 reais (approx. £209). A few days later Bolsonaro said in an interview that he plans to put an end to labour law and workers’ rights. He delegated the demarcation of indigenous land to the ministry of agriculture, headed by agribusiness figure Teresa Cristina. And he deleted all mentions of LGBT people from Brazil’s human rights guidelines (though it does seem that his regime has backtracked on that one). Bolsonaro disbanded the department for diversity of the Ministry of Education, and introduced ideological checks for academic scholarships. He stated that he is going to invest in training people for the labour market rather than form “slave minds for the ideas of socialist domination”.
We haven’t yet quite had a taste of what the Bolsonaro government will be able to pass through the Chamber of Deputies, where he does not have a majority. Unfortunately, the streets have been awfully quiet in Brazil so far. As yet there is little sign of immediate moves by the organised left.