Rio de Janeiro, asked: "What debt do I owe? I never enslaved anybody in my life."">
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News > Latin America

Brazil: Bolsonaro Says He 'Owes No Debt' To Black People

  • Brazil's far-right presidential candidate Jair Bolsonaro.

    Brazil's far-right presidential candidate Jair Bolsonaro. | Photo: EFE

Published 3 August 2018

Right-wing presidential hopeful Jair Bolsonaro, a seven-term congressman for Rio de Janeiro, asked: "What debt do I owe? I never enslaved anybody in my life."

Brazil's far-right presidential hopeful and Rio de Janeiro congressman Jair Bolsonaro has told TV talk show 'Roda Viva' that Portuguese slave-traders "never set foot in Africa," and it was Black people themselves who surrendered their own kind to the Trans-Atlantic slave trade.

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"If we were to tell the truth about history, the Portuguese never set foot in Africa," Bolsonaro said. "It was Black people themselves who handed over slaves."

Bolsonaro, a seven-term congressman for the state of Rio de Janeiro, asked: "What debt do I owe? I never enslaved anybody in my life. Is it fair for my daughter to be an affirmative action recipient? A Black person is not better than me, and I'm not better than a Black person."

He went on to tell the interview panel that if elected president he would propose to Congress that the percentage of university affirmative action recipients – designated for African-descendents and Indigenous people – be reduced.

Despite his outlandish remarks towards the Afro-Brazilian community, women and the LGBTQI community, Bolsonaro has become a formidable presidential contender due to the two-year recession and infamous Car Wash corruption scandal, the biggest in Brazil's history.

During former President Dilma Rousseff's impeachment vote in 2016, Bolsonaro used his congressional speaking time not only to rally in favor of her ouster, but also to praise Carlos Brilhante Ustra, the colonel who headed the dictatorship's notorious torture program in the 1970s.

He cited Ustra as "the source of Dilma Rousseff's dread," referring to the fact that, as a young woman, Rousseff had been imprisoned for three years for being a leftist guerrilla and was tortured, including being electrocuted, under his watch.

Bolsonaro has also proposed restoring military rule and has been quoted as saying that Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet "should have killed more people." 

During a recent interview with NPR, he told the reporter the dictatorship was "very good" becaues it "prevented Brazil from falling under the sway of the Soviet Union."

Other comments that have drawn criticism include "Women should earn less because they get pregnant;" that the inhabitants of Afro-Brazilian communities that resisted slavery – known as quilombos – are "not even good for breeding anymore," and that he would be "incapable of loving a homosexual son."

According to UOL, Bolsonaro appears in second place, behind imprisoned former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, in presidential election surveys. He comes in first only when Lula's name doesn't appear on the ballot.

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