By Sessi Kuwabara Blanchard, Filter
On October 28, repressive drug policy secured a powerful platform in Brazil, the world’s fourth-largest democracy, with the election of far-right presidential candidate Jair Bolsonaro. He raked in 55 percent of the vote.
Bolsonaro’s military background informs his violent approach to drug policy. The former artillery unit captain has frequently expressed support for police killings of people merely suspected of drug trafficking. This position echoes that of Filipino President Rodrigo Duterte, who is currently conducting a large-scale drug war that has killed, without trial, over 12,000 people suspected of drug-law violations.
Bolsonaro’s potential drug policies are ideologically rooted in broader social bigotry. He has a long track record of advocating a military dictatorship, publicly disparaging women, gay people and Afro-Brazilian and indigenous communities. Indigenous leaders in Brazil have expressed fears of genocide, at the prospect of Bolsonaro’s election. Bolsonaro has also suggested that drug use causes people to become gay, and that drug legalization "benefits" traffickers, rapists and hostage takers.” He offers no evidence for these beliefs.
Though some US publications repeat Bolsonaro’s message that he is like Trump, some experts in Brazil warn that, given the context, Bolsonaro may be even more dangerous.