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Politics & Elections

How the US Contributed to Brazil’s Return to Fascism

Brazil’s President-elect Jair Bolsonaro greets people during his visit to the Superior Court of Labour in Brasilia, on November 13, 2018. Sergio Lima / AFP / Getty Images

Janine Jackson: Welcome to CounterSpin, your weekly look behind the headlines. I’m Janine Jackson.

This week on CounterSpin: Brazil’s new president, Jair Bolsonaro, has said he supports dictatorship and torture, that religious and ethnic “minorities must fit in or simply disappear,” that his political opponents should “leave or go to jail,” that the only problem with Brazil’s military dictatorship is that they didn’t kill enough people, that police should have “carte blanche” to kill whoever they like, and that he’d rather his own son be dead than be gay. The analysis offered by a Washington Post headline, then, that “Bolsonaro’s Victory May Mean Further Shifts in Tolerance and Moderation,” might seem to be a bad joke, were it not that such pieces are all some US media consumers may encounter.

Migrants at the southern border seeking asylum from violence fomented by US policy underscore that we really are one world, interrelated. So how are US readers to understand what’s happening in Brazil, and its American flag-saluting, rape joke-making, Hitler-admiring president?

* * *

Here to help us understand some of this is Brian Mier. He’s an editor at Brasil Wire and editor of the book Voices of the Brazilian Left. He’s a regular correspondent for the radio show This Is Hell, as well as a freelance writer and producer. He joins us now by phone from São Paulo. Welcome to CounterSpin, Brian Mier.

Brian Mier: Hi, how are you?

JJ: When twice-elected Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff was being pushed out,

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