Jonathan Fryer

Writer, Lecturer, Broadcaster and Liberal Democrat Politician

Posts Tagged ‘Jair Bolsonaro’

Bolsonaro, Brazil’s Nut?

Posted by jonathanfryer on Friday, 1st May, 2020

BRAZIL-ELECTION-CAMPAIGN-BOLSONARODonald Trump’s COVID-19 press conferences at the White House have raised eyebrows on both sides of the Atlantic, not least when he suggested that ingesting disinfectant might be one possible cure. But he is far from alone in his off-message pontificating without a shred of medical expertise. In Brazil, Mr Trump has a mini-me tribute act in the form of President Jair Bolsonaro, who swept to power to take up office last year on a wave of popular anger about the corruption and incompetence endemic in the country’s political landscape. Mr Bolsonaro’s middle name is Messiah (Messias) and many in the Christian fundamentalist community that was a large part of his electoral success believe that that is indeed what he is — destined to clean up what they see as the moral rot that has undermined traditional values of God, family and discipline. The parallels with Donald Trump’s bedrock supporters among US Evangelicals are obvious. And just as President Trump at first dismissed the coronavirus pandemic as “a hoax”, so President Bolsonaro has referred to it as “a measly cold”. The United States has by far the highest incidence of the disease in North America and so does Brazil in South America. Draw your own conclusions. Two weeks ago, Mr Bolsonaro fired his Health Minister for strongly advocating social distancing.

Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro looks on during a Soldier's Day ceremony, in Brasilia Mr Trump lambasted the WHO, withdrawing US funding for the body and claiming it badly mishandled COVID-19 at the outset. But Mr Bolsonaro went one stage further, accusing the WHO of promoting homosexuality and encouraging toddlers to masturbate. At least his advisors got him to delete that particular tweet. The Brazilian President has a particular hatred of gays, once declaring that he would rather that a son of his would die than come out as a homosexual. Mr Bolsonaro also loves the military, often expressing nostalgia for the dictatorship than ran the country for 21 years up to 1985. He has a military background himself, though not a very elevated one, and appointed a number of present and former military personnel to his administration. Some political opponents fear he could usher in a new military government if current economic and civil turmoil worsens. But some generals are so concerned about the President’s increasingly bizarre and intemperate outbursts that they would privately quite like him to be pushed out of office. Meanwhile, opposition politicians are trying to get him impeached. There’s a wonderful line in the Brandon Thomas’s classic farce, Charley’s Aunt, when “she” says she comes from Brazil, “where the nuts come from”. But growing numbers of people are worried that this particular nut is ensconced in the presidential palace.

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Britain Casts Itself Adrift

Posted by jonathanfryer on Saturday, 21st December, 2019

03ED2EAA-8A9B-4ADE-B461-49A127C5F5BEHot on the heels of the Conservative election win last week, guaranteeing that Brexit will happen on 31 January, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has made clear that after leaving the EU, the UK will cease to be subject to EU rules and regulations. The government must know full well that this determination, if followed through, will mean that there can be no frictionless trade agreement with the EU27, either at the end of the projected transition period — arbitrarily set and enshrined in law by Mr Johnson’s Hard Brexiteers as 31 December 2020 — or ever. There is no way that the EU is going to compromise on its standards (from which British consumers have benefitted for nearly half a century) just to please London. So inevitably the UK economy will pivot towards the United States, the land of chlorine-washed chicken and hormone-injected beef. US pharmaceutical companies are already salivating at the thought of the killing they may make by foisting higher-priced drugs on the NHS. Of course, trade with the US will not in the foreseeable future make up for the inevitable shortfall in trade with the Continent and the Republic of Ireland. But Brexiteers argue that the UK will now be “free” to look elsewhere for trading partners (ignoring the fact that it always was). These presumably would include the Big Four BRICs — Brazil, Russia, India and China. However, one should note that those four emerging powers do not share our values, let alone our standards, unlike the EU. I am not saying that Messrs. Bolsonaro, Putin, Modi and Xi are the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, but I would not fancy being stuck alone on a desert island with any one of them.

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LGBT History Month

Posted by jonathanfryer on Saturday, 2nd February, 2019

Alan TuringFebruary is LGBT History Month in the UK, providing an opportunity to showcase the contribution made to society by LGBT people, ranging from one of the fathers of modern computer technology and artificial intelligence (AI), Alan Turing, to the playwright and wit, Noel Coward. Given my own professional and personal interests I inevitably hold especially dear those who made a big contribution to politics and the Arts, several of whom I shall be celebrating during the course of the month. A great tribute is deserved for Peter Tatchell, who for decades has campaigned tirelessly for human rights and equality, and those who were instrumental in getting Equal Marriage put on the UK statute books by the 2010-2015 Coalition Government, not least Liberal Democrat Lynne Featherstone. History Month events are already occupying a significant place in my diary. Last night I was at a dinner for the Siegfried Sassoon Fellowship and today I’ll be attending a lunch put on by the Oscar Wilde Society.

Noel CowardOscar Wilde has posthumously played an important role in my own writing life, as I have produced three books about the Irish playwright and his circle. I am currently working my way through Matthew Sturgis’s monumental new biography, Oscar, which is full of previously unknown details, including a very detailed account of Wilde’s American lecture tours. It is often overlooked just how important Oscar Wilde was as a social reformer, the grey clouds of his trials and imprisonment obscuring his progressive agenda, expressed directly in a number of essays and indirectly through his plays. For me, he represents the clearest example of living out the life philosophy of discovering who you are and then proudly being that person. That was a very brave position to take in the late Victorian period.

9326E15F-E174-4CA8-A6F2-71AACBE68C7CDuring LGBT History Month we can mark new milestones in the campaign for equality, such as Angola’s recent decriminalisation of same-sex relationships, while also noting with concern backward steps, such as the election of the homophobic Jair Bolsonaro in Brazil. LGBT people are still the subject of discrimination and abuse in several parts of the world, one of the most egregious examples being in Chechnya. But the heroes and heroines of the past and the present can perhaps serve as an inspiration and even a consolation to those who still have to attain the full human rights that should be the norm for all people, irrespective of their sexuality.

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Bolsonaro Betrays the Palestinians

Posted by jonathanfryer on Sunday, 30th December, 2018

46CF24F3-46D3-4B98-89F9-3FCE0752290FNext week, Jair Bolsonaro will take over as President of Brazil. But already this tough-talking right-winger is setting the cat among the pigeons. At a meeting today with Israeli Prime Minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, the announcement was made that Brazil will follow the US lead by moving its embassy to Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. This is despite the fact that there is an international consensus that until there is a final status agreement for Jerusalem — which both the Israelis and Palestinians want to have as their capital — no such move should be made. Until 1967, Jerusalem was divided between predominantly Arab East and Jewish West, but after the Six Day War, Israel occupied the eastern sector and since then has conducted a policy of ethnic cleansing to reduce the Palestinian population and make Jerusalem the undivided capital of the Jewish Stage of Israel. Bolsonaro’s decision on the Embassy will enrage many Brazilians, who traditionally have had good relations with the Palestinians and have supported their quest for full statehood. But this will not bother the man who clearly wants to establish himself as the Donald Trump of South America — loud-mouthed, bigoted and against every progressive group from LGBT activists to environmentalists. In the traditionally left-wing state of Ceará in Brazil’s impoverished north east, where I am writing this, people are bracing themselves for some tough knocks in the year ahead.

Posted in Israel, UK politics, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , | 1 Comment »