On March 15, 1985, Army General João Baptista Figueiredo left office, ending Brazil’s 21-year military dictatorship. It has taken almost 34 years for another military man to be sworn into the country’s highest office—this time, by way of a democratic election. On January 1, 2019, former Army captain Jair Bolsonaro became Brazil’s 42nd president.
Military undertones were all over the place on this New Year’s Day inauguration. During the oath of office ceremony in Congress, someone in attendance shouted the military salute Selva! (“Jungle!”) while Vice-President Hamilton Mourão (himself a retired General) signed the act of his inauguration. Later, Mr. Bolsonaro used the word Aço (“Steel”), an expression used by the Army’s tank division.