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Brazil's Bolsonaro Is No Friend of Liberty

October 26, 2018 in Economics

By Juan Carlos Hidalgo

Juan Carlos Hidalgo

The enemy of my enemy is my friend,” goes the ancient
proverb. In the case of Brazil, the prospect of the left-wing
Workers’ Party (PT) returning to power has encouraged the
markets and some liberty advocates to enthusiastically support the
candidacy of Jair Bolsonaro, a far Right former army captain who is
likely to win the runoff election this Sunday. That is a big
mistake.

There would be good reasons to worry about a PT victory. It was
under the party’s rule that a complex web of corruption
involving Petrobras and other state-owned companies metastasized.
The Federal Police estimates that up to $12 billion of public funds
were misappropriated, with some observers calling it “the
largest corruption scandal in history.” The purpose of the
scheme was to consolidate the PT as the country’s hegemonic
political force for years to come. The scandal implicated most of
the political establishment—including leading politicians
from other big parties—but the PT adopted the most cynical
attitude to the exposure and prosecution of malfeasance, claiming
it constituted a “right-wing coup” from
“neoliberal elites.”

This defiance was epitomized by the aborted candidacy of former
president Luiz Inácio “Lula” da Silva, who is serving a
twelve-year sentence for corruption and money laundering. He was
disqualified from the presidential race by a law that he signed in
2010, which prevents someone with a criminal conviction that has
been upheld on appeal from running for office. Still, he claimed
that his popularity—he was comfortably leading the
polls—was reason enough to let him run and that his detention
was little different from his previous jailing during the military
dictatorship.

Populism and
authoritarianism have a terrible record in Latin America. There is
no reason to think that Brazil would be the exception under Jair
Bolsonaro.

Lula was replaced at the top of ticket by Fernando Haddad, a
former mayor of São Paulo. Even though he is a moderate, the PT has
become more radical and is on a quest for vengeance against the
so-called “neoliberal elites.” Proof that the PT moved
to the far left is that its campaign platform calls for a
constituent assembly and political control of federal prosecutors
and judges. During the campaign, instead of highlighting his
moderate credentials and competent record running Brazil’s
largest metropolis, Haddad stressed that he was Lula’s
man.

The other reason to fear the return of the PT is its utter
mismanagement of the economy, particularly during the government of
Dilma Rousseff (2011-2016). Brazil enjoyed an economic bonanza in
the Lula years (2003-2010) that lifted millions from poverty and
swelled the ranks of the middle class. Many poor Brazilians still
credit the PT for this. However, most …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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