News - October 18, 2018

Meanwhile in... Brazil

Jair Bolsonaro took 46 per cent of the votes in the first round of Brazil’s general election on 7 October. This ‘Tropical Trump’ openly supports military dictatorships, wants to ‘develop’ instead of protect the Amazon and offers questionable solutions to crime and corruption. PhD candidate Carlos Alho hopes that the 30 million people who did not vote in the first round have now woken up.

Presidential candidate Jair Bolsonaro campaigning.Text Gina Ho, Photo Shutterstock

Bolsonaro causes fights within families, including mine

Carlos Alho, a Brazilian PhD candidate at the Soil Biology Group, reflects on recent affairs in his home country.
Carlos Alho, a Brazilian PhD candidate at the Soil Biology Group, reflects on recent affairs in his home country.

‘Bolsonaro has easy answers to complex problems, and some people like that. You want to believe that those who support him are just crazy, yet these voices are about to elect him president, so it’s really scary. I’m not usually the person who starts conversations on politics with my international friends – I have the feeling that some people find it confrontational. This idea is based on what I’ve experienced in Brazil: the country is polarized. There are even fights within families, including mine. I had an argument with my brother-in-law because I was trying make him see that Bolsonaro is just not an option. Not to mention Bolsonaro’s homophobic, misogynist and racist speeches.

Twenty per cent of the population didn’t vote in the first round. So even if Bolsonaro got 46 per cent, there are still 30 million people who have yet to decide. Now in the second round, you can only vote for either Bolsonaro or Fernando Haddad. I hope that people will now be mobilized to vote for the other option. But I don’t know.

I’m well adapted to Dutch life, even the weather. But I never think: I live here now, so forget Brazil. It’s not possible to think like that. So I still do what I can from here, like keeping in conversation with my family. Whenever my brother-in-law posts something in the family WhatsApp group supporting Bolsonaro, which I know is fake news, I counteract that. I’m the youngest in my family and the only one who made it to a PhD, so they see me as someone they can listen to. But it’s harder when you’re not there. Yet I just want them to see that there is another side, so that they cannot be manipulated easily.’