Campaign urges US University to cancel Bolsonaro appearance

Update 7/10/17: The Campaign has issued a response to the person responsible for Bolsonaro’s invitation Dr. Mark Langevin, a specialist on US-Brazil energy relations and security, who had defended the move. Read the response here.

On October 13, 2017, Jair Bolsonaro, who Glenn Greenwald called the World’s most hateful, misogynistic, elected official, is scheduled to speak at George Washington University’s Elliot School of International Affairs.

According to a recent article in the Folha de São Paulo, this event will be part of an American tour designed to soften his image. Bolsonaro, a gay bashing, white supremacist, was an army officer during the neo-fascist Brazilian military dictatorship, a high profile figure during the parliamentary coup to remove of Dilma Rousseff, and is currently polling second for next year’s presidential election behind Lula Inacio da Silva, who may not be allowed to run for office if an appeal underway against his evicence-free corruption conviction is blocked in the highly partisan Brazilian judicial system.

Recently, a group of Brazilian academics living abroad, created an open letter requesting George Washington University requesting them to cancel the event. Brasil Wire stands in solidarity with the academics and activists who are circulating this letter, an excerpt of which can be read below. This is not a question of free speech. It’s a question of George Washington University legitimizing  white supremacy and  actively working to strengthen neo-fascism in Brazil.

Excerpt from Open Letter to GWU:

Bolsonaro is a far-right populist who has been called “Brazil’s Donald Trump” and is in second place in current polls regarding the upcoming election. Bolsonaro’s event is part of a tour that seeks to validate him as a viable candidate for the Brazilian presidency and soften his bigoted image to court more liberal voters. We are writing this letter to protest his ability to do so in your institution. By welcoming him into your university and allowing him to speak, your institution would be helping a racist, sexist, homophobic right-wing extremist to achieve international recognition and solidify the political viability of his candidacy, effectively putting vulnerable communities in Brazil in great danger of increased discrimination and violence. This letter was written by Brazilian academics and political activists who are based all over the world, and is signed by academics of other nationalities who are committed to anti-fascist politics and oppose the spread of far-right fascism globally.

Below, is a list of what Bolsonaro has done to earn such a strong condemnation:

  1. He has openly praised Brazil’s violent military dictatorship, which killed thousands of people over its 21-year course, and denied Brazilian citizens the right to vote. Bolsonaro effectively endorses fascism and undemocratic practices.
  2. He has openly praised Carlos Alberto Brilhante Ustra, the army colonel responsible for torturing political prisoners, including former president Dilma Rousseff, during the dictatorship.
  3. Bolsonaro, in an attempt of disrupting a visit from the “Truth Commission” (which investigates the crimes perpetrated by the military during the dictatorship) to the headquarters of the dictatorship’s intelligence agency (DOI/CODI), pushed and punched fellow congressman Randolfe Rodrigues and later bragged about the fact in the media.
  4. He has repeatedly attacked LGBT folks with virulent, hateful comments, openly supported conversion therapy–a widely discredited and inhumane psychological practice–and proclaimed that having a gay son means the parents “should have beaten up the child more often.
  5. Last month, he called for the curators of an LGBT art exhibition to be “executed by firing squad.” In 1999, he called for the sitting president of Brazil, Fernando Henrique Cardoso, to be executed in the same way.
  6. He openly opposes indigenous rights, saying indigenous peoples do not contribute to the economy and thus should not be granted their ancestral lands.
  7. He has been convicted of slandering AfroBrazilian communities, having said in a lecture that “they aren’t even good enough to procreate.”
  8. Bolsonaro has referred to refugees and immigrants as “the scum of the world.”
  9. He is a rape apologist who twice told congresswoman Maria do Rosário, “I wouldn’t rape you. You’re not worth it.”
  10. He is openly anti-feminist and has said women should earn less than men because they can become pregnant.

While the signatories of this letter are in favor of free speech, we oppose hate speech and the incitement of violence towards marginalized communities. We don’t know what Bolsonaro will be speaking about in his talk at George Washington University, but the fact stands that allowing him to do so will validate his reputation as a politician and aid him in getting the votes he needs to win the 2018 election. A Bolsonaro presidential term would be absolutely catastrophic for Brazil; it would return the country to fascism and increase hate crimes against people of color, LGBT people and women, who would have even fewer resources to turn to, since these crimes would be sanctioned by the president. For these reasons, we demand that Bolsonaro’s talk be dropped by the George Washington University.

To see the entire letter and sign, follow this link.