Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro woke up today to the news that he features among Time Magazine‘s 100 Most Influential People of 2019 list. Parked in the “Leaders” column, he sits alongside his political chums Donald Trump, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and Matteo Salvini, the Deputy Prime Minister of Italy.

While it is an achievement and recognition of his prominence, it would perhaps be more of a surprise if Jair Bolsonaro did not make the list. As the leader of the fourth-largest democracy in the world, in his first term, his presence was more or less guaranteed.

</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Since the annual list began in 2004, Brazilian heads of state have featured several times. Dilma Rousseff, whom Jair Bolsonaro voted to impeach in 2016, figured among the 100 most influential in </span><a href=",28804,2066367_2066369_2066390,00.html"><span style="font-weight: 400;">2011</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;"> and </span><a href=",28804,2111975_2111976_2112125,00.html"><span style="font-weight: 400;">2012</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;">. Her mentor, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, featured on the inaugural edition in </span><a href=",28804,1970858_1970888_1971031,00.html"><span style="font-weight: 400;">2004</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;">, before appearing again in </span><a href=",28804,1984685_1984864_1984866,00.html"><span style="font-weight: 400;">2010</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;">, in the final year of his term as president.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Michel Temer was the only Brazilian president not to earn a place on the list. However, he did have the unwelcome honor of featuring on </span><i><span style="font-weight: 400;">Time</span></i><span style="font-weight: 400;">&#8216;s special on the </span><a href=""><span style="font-weight: 400;">&#8220;5 World Leaders Less Popular than Donald Trump&#8221;</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;"> back in 2017.</span></p> <div id="attachment_15849" style="width: 1034px" class="wp-caption alignnone"><img aria-describedby="caption-attachment-15849" class="size-large wp-image-15849" src="" alt="Dilma Rousseff lula time" width="1024" height="698" srcset=" 1024w, 300w, 768w, 610w" sizes="(max-width: 1024px) 100vw, 1024px" /><p id="caption-attachment-15849" class="wp-caption-text">Dilma Rousseff and Lula were also featured on Time Magazine&#8217;s 100 Most Influential People list</p></div> <h2>Time: Bolsonaro represents toxic masculinity</h2> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Regardless of the prestige of appearing on the list, the two paragraph blurb on Jair Bolsonaro is far more damning than anything written about previous Brazilian presidents. </span><i><span style="font-weight: 400;">Time</span></i><span style="font-weight: 400;"> editor-at-large Ian Bremmer, who is also the president of the renowned political consultancy Eurasia Group, refers to Mr. Bolsonaro as both an &#8220;ultraconservative homophobe&#8221; and a &#8220;poster boy for toxic masculinity.&#8221;</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">While the latter is worn as somewhat of a badge of honor by Jair Bolsonaro (who declared in 2013 he was &#8220;homophobic and proud of it&#8221;), it is hard to imagine a 64-year-old man who eats condensed milk on bread as being a &#8220;poster boy&#8221; of anything.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The tone of the </span><i><span style="font-weight: 400;">Time</span></i><span style="font-weight: 400;"> profile was drastically different from those of his predecessors. Ms. Rousseff was eulogized by Michelle Bachelet and Cristina Fernández de Kirchner in 2011 and 2012. While Lula was hailed as the &#8220;developing world&#8217;s new spokesman&#8221; back in the magazine&#8217;s inaugural 2004 list.</span></p> <h2>Time: &#8220;Brazil&#8217;s best chance&#8221;?</h2> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The short bio is not all criticism, however. Ian Bremmer lauds Jair Bolsonaro as being a &#8220;sharp break with a decade of high-level corruption&#8221; and &#8220;Brazil&#8217;s best chance in a generation&#8221; to pass meaningful economic reforms. Encouraging words for the international reader, but perhaps confusing to those up-to-date with the Brazilian news cycle, which consistently reports on the farcical situation of the government&#8217;s pension reform and corruption allegations within the president&#8217;s party.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">In his praise with regards to corruption, perhaps &#8220;high-level&#8221; is the operative term in Bremmer&#8217;s description of Jair Bolsonaro. The president was elected on an anti-corruption ticket and swiftly drafted former Operation Car Wash judge <a href="">Sergio Moro as his Justice Minister</a>. The decision to bring in Mr. Moro was a slam-dunk, giving the administration early credibility in its anti-corruption platform. Seen as Brazil&#8217;s ultimate crusader against high-level corruption, Sergio Moro remains one of the most popular figures in the country today, and also</span><a href=""><span style="font-weight: 400;"> featured on </span><i><span style="font-weight: 400;">Time&#8217;</span></i><span style="font-weight: 400;">s 100 list</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;">, back in 2016.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Though appointing Sergio Moro to his cabinet could justify </span><i><span style="font-weight: 400;">Time&#8217;</span></i><span style="font-weight: 400;">s description of Jair Bolsonaro being a &#8220;break with high-level corruption,&#8221; the current government, however, has managed to bring low-level corruption to the presidency.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Mr. Bolsonaro&#8217;s Social Liberal Party (PSL) is mired in corruption scandals related to the 2018 election, with allegations that the party fronted dummy candidates in order to embezzle money from public campaign funds. The scandal has already led to the sacking of one of his cabinet ministers—ex-government secretary Gustavo Bebianno—and Tourism Minister Marcelo Álvaro Antônio could be close behind.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Other scandals have popped up even closer to home for Mr. Bolsonaro—in fact, within his own home—as his eldest son Flávio Bolsonaro is wrapped up in a probe involving the suspicious banking activity of his former advisor, Fabrício Queiroz—a man with long-running links to violent urban militias in Rio de Janeiro.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Calling Jair Bolsonaro Brazil&#8217;s &#8220;best chance&#8221; at pushing through economic reforms also seems like a significant stretch. The government&#8217;s number one priority is a bill to overhaul the country&#8217;s pension system. After over 100 days of the administration, the proposal has made no progress. Thanks to what members of Congress call the government&#8217;s complete disarray and ineptitude in political negotiations, the pension reform bill hasn&#8217;t left square one.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Today&#8217;s news that the proposal will not be voted on until after the Easter holidays in the initial Constitution and Justice Committee (CCJ) came as a bitter blow to investors, meaning that the pension reform timetable is currently more behind schedule than even the most pessimistic of estimates made by consultancies and experts earlier in the year. If Jair Bolsonaro is Brazil&#8217;s &#8220;best chance&#8221; at passing the reform, the population might as well start praying for a miracle.

Read the full story NOW!

BY Euan Marshall

Euan Marshall is a Scottish journalist living in São Paulo. He is co-author of A to Zico: An Alphabet of Brazilian Football.