Much like the military once did, Bolsonaro has threatened his leftist political opponents with violence and imprisonment. He has promised to deliver a political “cleansing never seen before in Brazil,” and threatened media outlets that report news unfavorable to him. His vice president is a former Army general who, in an interview with HuffPost Brazil, refused to rule out a return to military rule, and who has posited — over Bolsonaro’s unconvincing objections — that the new administration could rewrite the country’s constitution.
This is not exclusively a Brazilian phenomenon. Countries around the world, from Hungary to Turkey to the Philippines, have turned to noisy leaders who promise instant renewals and silver-bullet solutions under the banner of a right-wing, nativist “populism” ― the preferred term of news outlets, even though the key constituencies backing these candidates tend to comprise the nations’ elite.
….Bolsonaro refers to nearly everything to his political left as “communism,” and has said his movement is meant to keep “foreign ideologies” from making their way to Brazil. Rather than outright dictatorship, Bolsonaro’s reign could come to resemble the ugliest anti-left purge in American history.
“It sounds like McCarthyism,” Alexandre Padilha, a high-ranking member of the Workers’ Party who served in da Silva’s government, told me. “He hates everything that is left in Brazil, and thinks they should be eliminated, basically.”
…Brazil’s police already killed more than 4,200 people last year ― in Rio, they were responsible for 1 in every 5 homicides across the state. Bolsonaro will likely make police forces even more deadly.
On this, he will have allies both in and out of politics. Brazilians overwhelmingly support aggressive stances on policing, and amid the violent crime epidemic, more politicians have adopted hard-line stances. Wilson Witzel, the incoming governor of Rio de Janeiro, has said the state will “dig graves” for the bodies of alleged criminals police kill. Newly elected São Paulo Gov. João Doria, a politician who aligned himself with Bolsonaro during the campaign, has adopted similar rhetoric when it comes to protecting police accused of killing.