Bolsonaro and the problem with Brazilian democracy according to his son Eduardo

Last year Brazil has been the place of very tense elections, probably the most tense of the 21st century, which culminated in the Congress attack of January 7 and in the subsequent opening of a trial against former president Jair Bolsonaro.

InsideOver met Eduardo Bolsonaro, member of the Brazilian parliament, chairman of the International Affairs and National Defense Committee and son of the former President, to talk about what has been happening in Brazil, his political vision and the West’s ongoing culture wars.

Mr Bolsonaro, what brought you to Italy?

I had a political agenda. I wanted to understand how your parliament work, your prime minister’s role and functions, because here you have parliamentarianism whereas in Brazil we’ve a presidential system, so things work a bit differently.

My main goal was to know a bit more about your system, about your political experience, but also about your right-wing conservatism and your prime minister, Giorgia Meloni, because the Left poses in Brazil the same challenges that it poses in Italy: it does the same things, it screams the same content. The Left uses the same kind of speech everywhere. Therefore what they say in Brazil is the same as what they say in Chile, in Mexico, in the US, in Italy, etc.

So, having your know-how, knowing what strategy has been employed in Italy to defeat the Left is really useful for us. We don’t necessarily need to learn from the victories, we also want to learn from your mistakes. I think this is the main goal: to get the know-how.

The second goal is to establish networks. For instance, in Brazil we’ve been organising the Conservative Political Action Conference, which is the world-biggest conservative event, since 2019. Hopefully, this year it will be organized at the end of September and we’re looking for extending some invitations to Italian right-wing politicians and influencers. We would like them to talk about geopolitics, topics concerning Left and Right or other topics felt in Europe, such as the war between Russia and Ukraine.

Lula da Silva won the election, but by a narrow margin – 50.9% against 49.1%. It is a result that gives the idea of a deeply polarized country, a country split in two, so I would like to ask you: what is the climate like in Brazil?

The political climate is very hot, mainly because these last elections were very unique. For the very first time in Brazil’s history, you had a candidate, Jair Bolsonaro, who was prevented by the superior electoral courts from campaigning on television.

On September 7, in the middle of the electoral campaign, several manifestations in favour of Jair Bolsonaro were held in Brasilia, Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo and other cities, with many people wearing green-and-yellow clothes. We are talking about one of the largest popular demonstrations in favor of a politician in Brazilian history. What happened? That my father was forbidden by the court to show these pictures. He was also forbidden to do live streamings from his home and to broadcast his speeches at the UN General Assembly. All the previous president could use them, but Bolsonaro couldn’t. It is unbelievable. And they keep telling us that this is a democracy.

What is your opinion on the theories of electoral fraud?

I could list twenty problems related to the last elections, but I will focus on this one. Brazil is the only country in the world where elections are entirely conducted through electronic voting, that is, the votes are counted and recorded by voting machines.

The weird thing is this: in some electoral districts the candidates of Bolsonaro’s party took even 40%, but for him as president there was not even one vote, zero. It is as if in the Italian parliamentary elections, forty people voted for the League or Brothers of Italy but at the time of counting them there would be zero. And the strange things don’t end there.

There are people who say they voted for Bolsonaro, but strangely no votes were recorded for him in their district. Some politicians, like Nikolas Ferreira, started giving visibility on Twitter to these complaints and asking the justice to investigate them. What do you think it happened? The court banned deputy Ferreira from the social media.

Indeed, it is a worrying situation.

The only answer to all the questions we had and have about the elections was and is censorship. Ten congressmen were put on trial for merely asking investigations. If people protest against this kind of behavior, the Left responds by saying that they are undemocratic acts.

Undemocratic acts, this is the new narrative of the Left. Have a look at Bolivia: they sent the former president Jeanine Áñez to prison with the excuse of undemocratic acts. The same narrative is being used in Brazil, it’s being used in the US.

Most people are unaware of these facts and I’m telling you why: the Left dominates the media. Any perceptions and perspectives that you may have in Europe regarding Brazil are shaped by the views of the Left-dominated Brazilian media panorama. Considering that the European media are also dominated by the Left, the same contents, the same titles and the same narratives promoted by the Brazilian media are re-proposed by Spain’s El Pais, France’s Le Monde, the UK’s The Guardian, and so on.

Another thing I would like to clarify is this: there’s an Argentinian youtuber who talks about the issues we touched on during this interview and whose videos are censored in Brazil. If you are in Brazil and you try to watch his videos, you simply can’t – they are censored. In Brazil there are congressmen, people just like me, who have been put on trial or have been jailed because of their opinion. And they have been jailed in defiance of the Article 53, which states that senators and congressmen enjoy criminal and civil immunity for their beliefs and for what they say.

There is a congressman, Daniel Silveira, who has been jailed and convicted of posting videos in which he used strong words against the supreme court. He had been sentenced to nine months, then received a pardon, which was canceled by Lula, and now the sentence has been increased to nine years. Nine years in jail because of a series of videos that were considered undemocratic.

Unbelievable things are happening in Brazil. Censorship and persecution don’t target only politicians, but also journalists. There have been some US-based Brazilian journalists who had their passport cancelled. How do you call a system that jails politicians, exiles journalists and makes extensive use of censorship? Dictatorship. The things that are happening here are only happening in countries like Cuba, Iran, Nicaragua and Venezuela. Sadly, part of the media and leftist parties support this process.

Are you worried about your father? His story closely resembles that of Donald Trump: first a defeat in controversial elections and then attempts to hinder his political career by moving the judicial system against him.

Sure I am. We can’t accept that this is normal. We can’t accept what the new president is doing. He invited a recognised dictator like Maduro to Brazil. The same judges that are trying my father have released dangerous drug dealers. This is not fair.

The police came to my father’s house to take pictures of his vaccination cards. He is probably the only person in this 200-million country to have received a visit from the federal police for this reason. If this is not persecution, what is? This is not a democracy. I want the federal police to devote the same amount of resources to going after criminals and corrupt politicians. If there was illegal money in my father’s house I wouldn’t be talking now, because I would be ashamed, but there was nothing.

Let’s take a look at Lula instead. He was released from prison not because he was innocent, but because of a formality. In fact, the judge of the supreme court ruled that Lula was supposed to answer for his crimes not to the civil office of Curitiba but to São Paulo’s. Accordingly, he canceled the whole trial and Lula was set free because all the crimes he was accused of were statute barred.

Lula wasn’t released because he is innocent, since he is not, but due to a formality. He was sentenced to prison, he was jailed and he was took off from office, then he was set free, turned eligible again and won elections. This is why people are taking to the streets to show support to Jair Bolsonaro, while Lula can’t. He can take to the streets only outside Brazil and not everywhere: when he went to Portugal there was a big demonstration against him, with people accusing him of being a thief and a criminal.

You have been very influential and active in the foreign policy of Jair Bolsonaro’s presidency, especially with regard to relations with Italy, the United States and Israel. Hence, I would like to know: what is Eduardo Bolsonaro’s world vision?

I see the West falling down mainly because of these culture wars between the Left and the Right. The Left no longer takes power using guns, but by infiltrating the institutions and structures of democracies. Leftists conquer universities, which are the places where tomorrow’s academics, thinkers, and politicians are formed.

In Left-dominated universities, professors do not teach, but make propaganda on politics and identity issues. We are talking about a problem that is not unique to Brazil, but that is widespread throughout the West.

The Left works to divide societies into opposing minorities, that can be sexual, ethnic and so on, and then tries to gain their support. This is why our societies are so polarised nowadays. We don’t debate anymore. For instance: in Brazil, right now, if you’re against the Affirmative Action you’re labeled racist, although here we are all mixed since the days of the Portuguese Empire.

Is there racism in Brazil? Sure, there is. But the phenomenon is not as strong as in the US, and we don’t experience their same race issues. The more a society develops, the less Affirmative Action-like policies are needed. In Brazil there are equal opportunities for all and numbers prove that: the enforcement of Affirmative Action has resulted in no change in the places where it has been enforced, no change in ten years. What is it then? It is an ineffective policy that only helped politicians to say they did something in favour of Black people.

If we want to speak about gun control, during the Bolsonaro administration there has been the largest decrease in crime in the history of Brazil. A result achieved by increasing civilian access to guns, a policy that for criminals meant one thing: “if you want to commit a crime, think twice because the potential victim might be armed”.

Four years of Bolsonaro led to a 24% decrease in murder rates. The Wall Street Journal wrote an article about this, showing the downward evolution of the curve. Now, let’s make this challenge: at the end of the year take the crime statistics and you will see that they will have increased compared to 2022. I know this because Lula is pursuing the opposite policies, as the Left doesn’t care about reality, only about narrative.

The people of Brazil stands with the West and its values. We want to protect our nation, our families and our freedom. Unfortunately, our current president, Lula da Silva, is in favour of China – even the American authorities know it and said that he adopted the same kind of speech that you can find in Putin’s Russia or in China. Lula is against the dollar standard, he authorised Brazilian businesses to use Chinese yuans and also allowed US-sanctioned Iranian ships to dock at Rio’s port. Maybe in the future, because of all these policies, Brazil will be sanctioned by the US.

You’ve been the most voted lawmaker in the history of Brazil, where you are a very popular figure. Besides that, you have international experience and you defend a world vision that, based on the last elections, is backed by almost 50% of Brazilians. Do you plan to run for president in the future?

I’m not thinking about it right now. Now we have to work for Jair Bolsonaro, the true president, to get him back in power. Me? Well, I’m still too young – 38 years old. Maybe in the future, I don’t know.

In politics we usually decide on what to do one-two years before the elections. But what I can tell you now is that I’m not thinking about it, although some people have suggested it to me.