On the same day the United States Senate reported on the horrific deeds performed by its agents – torture and rape first on a scandalous list – a Brazilian deputy stood up in Congress and gave a speech.
Jair Bolsonaro is a popular right-wing demagogue who wants a return to the days of Brazil’s military dictatorship.
Wednesday is World Human Rights Day but Bolsonaro doesn’t think much of human rights, or any other rights for that matter. He had a message for the country’s Human Rights Secretary, Maria de Rosario.
“I said I wouldn’t even rape you,” he said in reference to comments he said he made a few days ago, “because you don’t deserve it.”
No one can argue that Bolsonaro’s words came a surprise. He said exactly the same thing in 2003. “I won’t rape you because you don’t deserve to be raped,” he told her in the hallways of Brazil’s Congress, before pushing her away from him when she complained.
Members of Congress have parliamentary immunity in Brazil and can say what they like without fear of prosecution. Bolsonaro has already said his kids grew up in an educated family and so have no chance of being gay or of dating blacks.
He is a hateful man who perhaps more than any other person exemplifies the backward side of Brazil that is still a huge and tragically worrying presence in this great nation.
Brazil’s problem however, is not just people like Bolsonaro. It’s the macho culture where such comments are laughed off. It’s the political system that turns a blind eye to such vicious attacks.
Most of all it’s that not enough ordinary people care. His comments will cause little more than a ripple outside the chattering classes.
The only way Brazil will rid itself of misogynist, homophobic and racist figures like Bolsonaro is by isolating them and ridiculing them. For future generations, only education will work, but that’s too late for the 59-year old Bolsonaro.
Frighteningly, it is already too late for many of the country’s voters.
In October, Jair Bolsonaro was reelected to a sixth successive term in Rio de Janeiro. He got 464,572 votes, more than 100,000 more than any other Congressional candidate in the state.