BLACK, LGBTQI+ AND INDIGENOUS UNDER ATTACK IN BRAZIL
January 15, 2019
The nightmare has come true — Brazil’s been hit by a wave of far-right, Jurassic authoritarians. After just 15 days in office, the newly elected President, Jair Bolsonaro, has shown that his government will be all that he promised during his campaign: a huge, racist circus, with big doses of homophobia, and no preparation for public administration. Dear American Friends, have you seen this story before?
The murder of Brazilian Afro feminist activist Marielle Franco in March 2018 — a crime that remains unsolved — strengthened the candidacies of Black and LGBTQI+ militants. The Congressional elections of Erica Malunguinho and an Indigenous trans woman, Joenia Wapichana, were pots of gold and hope at the end of the rainbow. But they were not isolated events, and more like a response from a social movement. In a country that people say does not like politics and politicians yet is always willing to elect the “new” as a proposal for representation, this could be a new path for the future.
For countless years, Afro-Brazilians, LGBTQI+ and Indigenous communities have been struggling to maintain fundamental rights. And now, in his early days as a President, Jair Bolsonaro and his right-wing government wants to check-mate us by using executive orders that affect the fundamental rights of these vulnerable communities. He is Trumping the fragile Brazilian democracy.
Bolsonaro’s legal offensive has put minorities and environmentalists on alert, yet his newly launched measures have also read as quite strange to his government’s supporters. As usual, measures that affect the rights of minority communities are characterized by ambiguity — as defenses of “family values,” the security of the “Good Citizen”, and as a series of boring clichés that conservatism adores. This has always occurred in Brazil’s political history. The denial that Brazil faces a racial problem, and the interdiction of minorities from spaces of power, through the continued effort of immoral, economic, political exclusion, has lead us to the creepy scenario the nation lives under today.
The socioeconomic situation of the Black, brown and Indigenous populations tends to be much more disadvantageous. One of the Bolsonaro’s promises is to loosen gun control — and for sure, this craziness will impact directly young Afro-Brazilians, who are already the biggest victims of violence. According to statistics, a young Black man is killed every 23 minutes in the country.
The LGBTQI+ community will also be severely affected by this measure since it seems like Brazilians like to fuck the trans population as much as they kill them. According to a survey revealed by a famous pornography site, Brazil is the country that most watches porn videos featuring trans people. Ironically, according to Brazilian Association of Trans People (Antra), it’s also the deadliest nation in the world for trans people. Damn, we are so contradictory!
And Bolsonaro’s hatred of minorities seems to have no end. On the second day of his presidency, like a spoiled child, he signed a provisional measure that removes the LGBTQI+ population from the consideration of Human Rights guidelines. That measure changes the structure of the Ministry of Women, Family and Human Rights, headed by Damares Alves, a minister who in her inaugural speech said that boys should wear blue and girls should wear pink. In that chaos, it has not been clear, however, which department will be responsible for LGBTQI+ citizens. Remember when humanity’s expectations for the year 2019 was that we’d be discussing flying cars and life beyond earth, not the gender-based colors of clothing that men and women should wear?
According to Erica Malunguinho, the Black trans activist elected to Congress, the future repeats the past. “This is no difference from what happened in the colonial period when Europeans went to Africa. They violated the people not only with their arms, but also with the imposition of their way of life, religion and art.” As she boldly speaks, there will be no freedom for anyone, while we are still simply negotiating to be alive.
In another executive order, President Bolsonaro withdrew the autonomy of Funai agency (National Indian Foundation), that used to have the mission of identifying, demarcating and delimitating the Indigenous and quilombola (descendants of slaves) lands — a large part of the protected Amazon region. Now, this critical task will be the responsibility of the Ministry of Agriculture, a government sector controlled by agri-business. Isn’t ironic?
In an interview with Folha de S. Paulo, one of Brazil’s leading newspapers, Joenia Wapichana, who will be the only Indigenous woman in the Brazilian Congress, questioned the hatred that the President assigns to Indigenous peoples. “Why does he chase us so much? What is the reason for all this hatred and wish to go back in our history? There is tourism, traditional medicines, vast biodiversity in the Amazon. We have to change this discourse that we are hindering development, that we are impairing the country. We have to make ourselves the protagonists too,” she said. Looks like Bolsonaro’s behavior is not only hatred, but economic interest in the natural riches of the Amazon.
While Bolsonaro steps back on human rights guidelines, he nods to the military and to the members of the neo-Pentecostal church, who overwhelmingly voted for him and who support measures such as the move of the Brazil’s embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. It is the typical formula of a neo-fascist: utilizing religion and the military as a toxic combination for the nation.
Unfortunately, there’s no surprise to Bolsonaro’s rhetoric and actions. As the Black, transgender, Amerindian activist Neon Cunha says, privileged people are scared, but who represents the portion that has always suffered more? The Afro-Brazilians, LGBTQI+ and Indigenous communities will continue our lives, knowing that we have to articulate and to rethink this moment.
As the new President goes on with his arbitrary decisions full of ignorance and prejudice, we continue in our political articulation and the daily struggle for our survival. Would it be great to dream of having someone like Sonia or Erica as president of Brazil four years from now? We have a lot of work and a lot of minds to change if we want to get there. But as the former President of the United States that we love and miss so much once said: Yes, We Can!