Samantha Pearson, writing in The Wall Street Journal, details Brazil’s rejection of socialism and the rise of an evangelical conservatism that looks more like Texas than Rio de Janeiro. Leading the charge is Jair Messias Bolsonaro, a former military man turned politician. Pearson writes (abridged):
NIOAQUE, Brazil—It looks like a scene from Marlboro Country. Cattle ranchers drive their Chevy pickup trucks to the local rodeo. Cowboys in washed-out jeans entertain the crowds.
In fact, it is Brazil’s conservative heartland, a 14-hour drive from the nearest beach and a world away from the country’s reputation for liberal hedonism.
“It’s time we brought back some morals to this country,” said retired pharmacy owner Francisco Lima, 71, as his wife, Maria, got up from her wicker chair to fetch homemade lemonade here in the sleepy town of Nioaque. “Brazil is overrun by criminals and corrupt politicians.”
The move to the right in Brazil—home to about half of South America’s population and wealth—accelerates a continental trend that’s seen countries edging away from socialism.
The jailing on Saturday of Brazil’s former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, a leftist icon who was last year convicted of corruption, marked a new low for Latin American socialism and effectively removes him from the race in October’s presidential elections.
Meanwhile, Brazil is witnessing the political rise of a fiery army captain-turned-congressman named Jair Messias Bolsonaro.
Since the end of military rule in 1985, “conservative” had been a dirty word here.
Evangelical groups have been waging a culture war nationwide, forcing Santander Bank in September to shut down an exhibition on sexual diversity
Like the divide in the U.S., the rise of conservative Brazil has liberal citizens on edge.
Read more here.