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Brazilian Artists and Intellectuals Warn of Impending Dictatorship

Right-wing Brazilian presidential candidate Jair Bolsonaro. (Agência Brasil Fotografias / Flickr)

Jair Bolsonaro is a former military officer and current member of Brazil’s Chamber of Deputies who has told a fellow congresswoman that she’s not attractive enough to be sexually assaulted, claimed that “no father would like to have a gay son” and called for his political opponents to be shot. (In 2016, during the impeachment hearings of then-President Dilma Rousseff, he dedicated his vote to Carlos Alberto Brilhante Ustra—the colonel who oversaw her torture as a political dissident in the early ’70s). With a presidential election less than two weeks away, Bolsonaro is currently leading the polls with 28 percent of the vote, and Brazil’s intelligentsia is sounding the alarm.

In an online manifesto titled “Democracia sim” (“Yes to democracy”), over 150 musicians, writers, filmmakers and intellectuals have denounced the Social Liberal Party leader as a “clear threat to our civilisational heritage.” Names range from “City of God” director Fernando Meirelles and novelist Milton Hatoum to composers Caetano Veloso, Chico Buarque and Gilberto Gil, each of whom spent time in exile during the country’s military rule from 1964 to 1985.

“We have known 20 years of shadows under the dictatorship, initiated with the backing of not a few actors in society,” the document reads. “It’s never unwarranted to remember how throughout history and to this day fascist, Nazi leaders and many other autocratic regimes were first elected with the promise of rescuing the self-esteem and credibility of their nations, before submitting them to the most varied authoritarian excesses.”

More than 190,000 have added their names to the manifesto since it was published Monday.

As TeleSUR reports, Brazilian women have spearheaded a social media campaign against the far-right candidate’s rank misogyny under the hashtag #EleÑao (#NotHim). Upward of 2.9 million have joined a Facebook group called “Women United Against Bolsonaro,” and demonstrations are planned across the country for Saturday.

Bolsonaro, whose son has consulted with former Breitbart chair and White House adviser Steve Bannon, was stabbed during a campaign rally in Juiz de Fora earlier this month. He underwent emergency surgery and is expected to make a full recovery.

Jacob Sugarman
Jacob Sugarman is the acting managing editor at Truthdig. He is a graduate of the Arthur L. Carter Institute of Journalism whose writing has appeared in Salon, AlterNet and Tablet, among other…
Jacob Sugarman

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