Canada and the World Podcast

"Bolsonaro - Brazil's Trump?"

“Bolsonaro is more a symptom than a cause.” Sound familiar? Last weekend’s election of Jair Bolsonaro as president of one of the world’s largest economies has prompted comparisons of the right-wing candidate to the similarly brash Donald Trump in the United States. Do the two compare?

Three Brazil experts join host Bessma Momani to discuss the reasons Brazilians voted in Bolsonaro — including his social conservatism, approach on crime and the country’s economic woes — as well as what makes him a different kind of leader for Brazil and beyond.

This episode of Canada and the World also looks at what to watch in the days and years ahead: How will the policies of Bolsonaro’s lead economist, University of Chicago-trained Paulo Guedes, impact the country and region? Can we expect an erosion of liberal institutions? How will Bolsonaro’s view impact freedoms and human rights, especially those of women, Indigenous people and the LGBT community? And, finally, will we see pushback if foreign interests — from Canada to China — look to exploit newly created business opportunities, regardless of the social or environment costs?

Brazil might not be the only country experiencing a turn to the right, but this particularly turn is certainly one to watch. 

Paul Freston is the CIGI chair in religion and politics in global context at the Balsillie School of International Affairs, and with the religion and culture department at Wilfrid Laurier University. Paul is a distinguished senior fellow and director of the Program for Studies of Religion in Latin America, Institute for Studies of Religion, Baylor University, and professor colaborador in the post-graduate programme in sociology, Universidade Federal de São Carlos, Brazil.