John Oliver spoke about the Brazilian Elections on his show Last Week Tonight, published on Youtube last Sunday (October 7). On the span of 15 minutes he paints a brief picture of Brazil’s current political climate, which culminates into calling presidential candidate Jair Bolsonaro “a terrible human being.”
Naturally, he doesn’t say this without reason.
“A terrible human being”
As an immediate character flaw, Oliver points out Bolsonaro’s insistence on making “finger guns” every chance he gets — to the point where there’s a video on him teaching a little girl how to do it.
“And unfortunately, it only gets worse from there.”
Bolsonaro is a hard-right conservative now widely known for his racist, homophobic, misogynistic and undemocratic views.
Before the elections, he was considered the Brazilian version of Donald Trump because of his political stance.
Now, Brazilians fear the threat is much worse.
“Bolsonaro has said in the past ‘I am in favor of a dictatorship’, which is particularly worrying as he’s a former military captain in a country that until 1985 was ruled by a brutal military dictatorship.”
For those unaware, Brazil was under a military dictatorship from 1964 to 1985, a period where media was censored by military forces who had the right to apprehend anyone deemed suspect and engage in extrajudicial killings.
Bolsonaro, however, is quoted for this statement — which Oliver pulls directly from a video interview:
I’m in favor of torture. You know that. And the people are too. (…) Through the vote you won’t change anything in this country. Nothing, absolutely nothing. It’s only going to change, unfortunately, when we get to a civil war, doing the job that the military regime didn’t do — killing 30 thousand.
Oliver’s audience reacts in disgust after the statement.
“It is pretty jarring,” Oliver says, “to hear someone say a military dictatorship didn’t kill enough.”
But then, there are his misogynist statements.
“It really has to be seen to be believed”, Oliver says.
While arguing with a female member of congress called Maria do Rosário who called him a “rapist”, Bolsonaro was recorded replying with:
I would never rape you because you’re not worth it.
The conflict escalates to the point of him threatening to hit her. The second the clip ends you can hear someone in the audience say “Wow.”
“And Bolsonaro’s homophobia”, Oliver follows, “is actually even worse.”
He then proceeds to show a series of short clips, starting with Stephen Fry’s interview with Bolsonaro where the candidate says:
They want to reach our children, in order to turn our children into gay adults to satisfy their sexuality in the future.
Followed by another clip:
If your child starts to become like that — a little gay — you take a whip and you change their behaviour.
People say it’s discrimination, but you, who’s watching from home, would you hire a gay driver to take your children to school? Of course not!
And finally, the clip where Bolsonaro manages to insult Ellen Page while seriously thinking he’s making her a compliment.
In an interview, Page challenged him by asking: “I’m gay. Do you think I should have been beaten as a child? To not be gay now?”
Bolsonaro replied with:
I’m not going to look at you and say ‘I think you’re gay.’ That doesn’t matter to me. You’re very nice. If I were a cadet at the military academy and saw you on the street, I would whistle at you. Alright? You’re very pretty.
Page, Oliver, and the audience are all stunned.
The #NotHim movement
With everything Bolsonaro has said and with him being a congressman for 28 years with nothing to show for, it’s easy to understand why a huge movement called #NotHim (or #EleNão in Brazil) has grown over the past weeks.
And Oliver agrees: “Voting for #NotHim is a truly excellent idea.”
The movement has grown to the point where international celebrities have shown support for it, including the Black Eyed Peas and Madonna.
This very week, Roger Waters, who is now touring in Brazil, has shown Bolsonaro’s name on his “Neo-fascists on the rise” list on the massive screen behind the stage. At a certain point of the show, the message couldn’t be any clearer:
Finally, on a brilliant twist, he went as far as to censor himself — on the very next day after the first show, instead of Bolsonaro’s name, the screen showed: “Political point of view censored.”
But why would Brazil even consider electing Bolsonaro?
Bolsonaro is now on the second round of elections against Fernando Haddad, who despite entering his campaign late, managed to amount 29% of valid votes on the first round.
For comparison, Bolsonaro had 46% of valid votes — if he had gotten 50% or more, he would already be president.
Now, the polls for the second election are already showing a tighter gap — Bolsonaro at 58% and Haddad at 42%.
So despite all of his controversial (and downright alarming) statements, Bolsonaro is still leading the polls.
It seems many are simply voting against the Worker’s Party, regardless of what the opposite side represents.
This is due to many complications involving the political party in recent memory.
One popular claim is that the Worker’s Party has won every election since 2002, and Brazil needs something new — “a radical change”, as Oliver puts it.
Another major issue for the party is the massive investigation called “Operation Car Wash”, in which some of their affiliates were charged of corruption, bribery and money laundering — including former president Lula, who had every intention of running for office this year, but was charged and prosecuted and is now in prison.
To make it even worse, previous president Dilma Roussef, supported by Lula during her campaign and also elected for the Worker’s Party, was impeached on her second term and removed from office last year, accused of criminal administrative misconduct, disregard for the federal budget and failing to act on a scandal uncovered by Operation Car Wash involving national petroleum company, Petrobras.
They both claim they were being politically persecuted — the ploy being preventing Lula from participating in the election, while making sure Roussef could not protect him with her position.
Regardless, public opinion on the Worker’s Party dropped immensely.
Bolsonaro, despite all that he represents, started being praised as the “radical change” Brazil was desperately looking for.
But as the #NotHim movement defends, Bolsonaro is in fact a threat to Brazilian democracy in light of his fascist statements, “a terrible human being” — Oliver is certainly not alone in thinking that —, and in 28 years as a member of congress hasn’t managed to work on anything noteworthy.
“(…) I realise that you are disgusted with your politics in the moment and you’re not inspired by any of the alternatives”, Oliver wraps up.
“But anything is better than Bolsonaro.”