New Delhi: On Sunday morning, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro will be the chief guest at India’s Republic Day parade. Just a day before that, though, Bolsonaro is being criticised for a racist statement he made on his Facebook page. And this isn’t even close to the first time he’s grabbed headlines for saying something very, very problematic, particularly about groups that are already marginalised.
Here’s a list of ten remarks India’s Republic Day chief guest has made in public that got him eyeballs for all the wrong reasons. This list is not exhaustive: the Brazilian president has been saying violent, scary things for decades now.
1. Indigenous people are “becoming human beings”
To start from the most recent: On his regular Facebook broadcast, Bolsonaro on Thursday said, “Indians are undoubtedly changing…They are increasingly becoming human beings just like us.” He was referring not to Indians in India, but indigenous people in Brazil.
Unsurprisingly, indigenous rights activists – who have been criticising the Brazilian president for his remarks and policies since he was elected – have lashed out at Bolsonaro for this remark. “The indigenous were always humans just like anyone else. It’s Bolsonaro…who is revealing himself to be less and less human,” tweeted the Brazilian journalist Leonardo Sakamoto in response.
2. Torture is good
The Brazilian president is a supporter of state-sponsored violence and torture. “Brazilian prisons are wonderful places…they are places for people to pay for their sins, not live the life of Reilly in a spa,” he said in 2014. In 1999, he had been even more direct with his words: “I am in favour of torture, you know that. And the people are in favour as well.”
3. State should kill people
Bolsonaro thinks the military dictatorship was good for Brazil – and the only thing it got wrong was not killing enough people. “If some innocents die, alright; in every war innocent people die. I would even be happy if I died as long as 30,000 others died together with me…The situation of the country would be better today if the dictatorship had killed more people.”
4. Civil war better than democracy
Despite winning an election, the Brazilian president has made his distaste for democracy public on multiple occasions. While celebrating the dictatorship and chiding it for not killing enough people, Bolsonaro also said that Brazil needed a civil war.
“Through the vote you will not change anything in this country, right? Nothing! Absolutely nothing! You will only change, unfortunately, on the day when we begin a civil war here inside.”
5. Indigenous people should have been “exterminated”
In a recurring theme, Bolsonaro wants all those he disagrees with killed. This is what he said about indigenous groups in 1998. “It’s a shame that the Brazilian cavalry hasn’t been as efficient as the Americans, who exterminated the Indians.”
6. Won’t rape an ugly woman
While arguing with lawmaker Maria do Rosario in 2014, Bolsonaro said he wouldn’t rape her because she was ugly and a “slut”. “I wouldn’t ever rape you, because you don’t deserve it…Slut!”
Rosario had been talking about human rights violations during Brazil’s military dictatorship when she got this response.
Bolsonaro has never expressed remorse over his words. In a later newspaper interview, Bolsonaro said Rosario was “not worth raping; she is very ugly.”
7. Son should “die in an accident” if gay
Another targeted group Bolsonaro has openly gone after is the LGBTQIA+ community. In 2011, he said that he “would be incapable of loving a homosexual son…I would prefer my son to die in an accident than show up with a moustachioed man.”
8. Spending state money “on sex”
Bolsonaro has openly bragged about how he used the housing allowance he got as a congressman “on sex”. “Since I was a bachelor at the time, I used the money to have sex with people,” he said in a 2018 interview.
9. Descendants of slaves are “overweight”, “do nothing”
In an April 2017 speech, Bolsonaro talked about a settlement, or quilombo, which was founded by the descendants of runaway slaves. “I visited a quilombo and the least heavy afro-descendant weighed seven arrobas (approximately 230 pounds). They do nothing! They are not even good for procreation.”
10. Women should not get the same salary as men
In 2016, Bolsonaro said in a TV interview that it was unfair for women to get the same salaries as men since they got “more labour rights” like maternity leave. He said that he wouldn’t employ a woman “with the same salary as a man”.