The rumbustious son of Brazil’s far-right president, Jair Bolsonaro, has come under heavy fire from across the political spectrum after claiming rapid political change was unachievable “through democratic means”.
Carlos Bolsonaro – a politician and social media fanatic known for his incendiary and often unintelligible tweets –sparked themaelstrom on Monday evening with a 43-word post on Twitter.
“The transformation Brazil wants will not happen at the speed we yearn for through democratic means,” he tweeted to his 1.3 million followers.
That comment triggered an immediate outcry in a country that only emerged from two decades of dictatorship in 1985 and whose current leader is a notorious pro-torture admirer of that military period and other authoritarian regimes.
“Yes, I’m in favour of a dictatorship,” Jair Bolsonaro once told Brazil’s congress.
The conservative Estado de São Paulo newspaper condemned Carlos Bolsonaro’s “vile statement” and demanded an urgent statement from his father on the matter.
“If this was just any old fruitcake publishing such freedom-destroying nonsense on the internet … there would be no reason to worry. But the one going public to flirt with coup-mongering … was one of the sons of the president of the republic,” the broadsheet complained in an editorial.
Writing in Rio’s O Globo newspaper, commentator Bernardo Mello Franco called the comment a deliberate attempt to fire up Bolsonaro’s base and disguise his shortcomings as president amid a slump in support.
“Carlos Bolsonaro said what his dad thinks,” Mello Franco warned, pointing to the “authoritarianism in the [family’s] blood”.
Another political observer, Bruno Boghossian, compared Carlos Bolsonaro’s words to those of the Peru’s former dictator Alberto Fujimori.
Even Bolsonaro’s vice-president, Hamilton Mourão, was forced to weigh in on Brazil’s latest filial crisis, declaring democracy “essential” to western civilization.
During an interview in Brazil’s capital, Brasília, the opposition senator Randolfe Rodrigues said Carlos Bolsonaro’s pronouncement underlined how taking a stand against Bolsonaro’s far-right administration had become “a civilizational, democratic and humanitarian task”.
“Each day Brazilian democracy is being subjected to a litmus test – by the president’s declarations, by the declarations of his sons, and by the acts they commit,” Rodrigues said.
“However long his government lasts, I’m convinced these will be among the saddest pages in Brazilian history,” Rodrigues added, pointing to the multi-pronged threat he said Bolsonaro represented to Brazil’s environment, international reputation and young democracy.
“It will take us many years to recover from the number of civilizational setbacks Bolsonaro is ushering in.”
Carlos Bolsonaro responded to the criticism in waspish fashion, blaming the outcry on journalists he branded “scoundrels”, “scum”, “filth” and “trash”.
“Now I’m a dictator? Fucking hell!” he tweeted.
Addressing lawmakers in Brasília, his brother, Eduardo Bolsonaro, downplayed the remark as “no big deal”.
He claimed it was “vultures” on Brazil’s left – which has largely declined to condemn Nicolás Maduro’s authoritarian regime in Venezuela – who were enamoured of autocrats, not his family.
“They are dictatorship lovers,” Bolsonaro shouted.