Brazil’s sitting President Jair Bolsonaro built his political trajectory based on two complementary strategies. On one hand, he cultivated a faithful base of voters among members of the Armed Forces and law enforcement—thanks in part to his fierce defense of their corporatist interests. On the other, he became notable for his penchant for hate speech, always taking it a notch higher than his peers in politics.
For decades, Mr. Bolsonaro got the media’s attention thanks to his outrageous remarks. Blacks were “not even fit for procreation.” A “cop who kills on the job must be decorated, not punished.” During an argument in Congress, he told a female colleague that she was “not worth raping,” and she wasn’t his “type.” Mr. Bolsonaro has described himself as “a proud homophobe,” who believes “minorities should bend to majorities or be crushed.” The list of such inflammatory statements is endless.