Following riots in Brazil after the defeat of former President Jair Bolsonaro, Perry World House hosted a panel titled The Latest Insurrection: Brazilian Right-Wing Populism and Its Implications on Feb. 15.
Moderated by Michael Hanchard, Penn Gustave C. Kuemmerle Professor of Africana Studies, the panel featured John French, professor of History and African-American Studies at Duke University, and Mariana Felix de Quadros, a Ph.D. student at the Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul.
The panel focused on the January 2023 insurrection in Brazil after Bolsonaro refused to concede after his defeat in the presidential election. The ensuing violent protest in Brazil's capital has drawn many comparisons to the Jan. 6 capitol riot in Washington.
French focused on the similarities and differences between Bolsonaro and former President Donald Trump.
“[What is] very different from Trump is that even when Bolsonaro was in the military, he was always getting in trouble. He was not a good, well behaved person,” French said in the panel.
He emphasized that while Trump came from a background of wealth, Bolsonaro grew up impoverished and experienced a high degree of social mobility. However, according to French, Trump and Bolsonaro share one key similarity — the ability to “say the unsaid.”
In the past, Bolsonaro, known as the ‘Trump of the Tropics,’ has made homophobic comments and controversial remarks about women, immigrants, and minorities.
“[Bolsonaro has] always exaggerated rhetoric, yelling, you know,” French said. “Lots of people would rather shout than try to actually articulate why they take the position they take.”
Quadros added that she felt afraid after experiencing discriminatory practices as a Black woman living in Brazil during Bolsonaro's presidency. According to her, the resistance movements in Brazil demonstrate that the people demand a leader that respects all.
Quadros said that newly-elected President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva and his center-left government offer a sense of hope for a better future in Brazil.