It’s not shocking to learn that newly sworn-in Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro is attacking his country’s most vulnerable communities now that he’s in office. The right-wing politician and former army captain ran on an explicitly anti-Black, anti-Indigenous, anti-woman, and anti-LGBTQ platform that got him elected with over 55 percent of the vote in October.
What’s shocking is the speed at which he has begun his assault.
On Tuesday, Bolsonaro’s first day in office, he issued a series of executive orders targeting Brazil’s Black, Indigenous, and LGBTQ communities, the Associated Press reports.
One order, issued hours after his inauguration, transfers the allotment of lands to Indigenous communities from the Justice Ministry to the Agriculture Ministry — the same Agriculture Ministry that is now headed by Tereza Cristina, a pro-agribusiness legislator from Mato Grosso do Sul who has opposed efforts by Indigenous Brazilians in the past. This order will also affect Brazil’s Quilombola communities, descendants of enslaved Africans whose land rights were granted by Brazil’s constitution of 1988.
Another one of the orders removes LGBTQ concerns from the Human Rights Ministry’s agenda — the same Human Rights Ministry that’s now led by Damares Alves, an evangelical pastor who claims that “the Brazilian family is being threatened” by diversity initiatives.
“Girls will be princesses and boys will be princes,” Alves said Wednesday. “[Under Bolsonaro’s administration, there] will be no more ideological indoctrination of children and teenagers in Brazil.”
The orders have been sharply criticized by local activists and human rights groups in Brazil, where, despite having legalized same-sex marriage in 2013 and playing host to the world’s largest Pride parade, anti-LGBTQ violence took at least 387 people’s lives in 2017, per local watchdog Grupo Gay de Bahia. Activist Symmy Larrat telling the AP that she doesn’t “see any signs there will be any other government infrastructure to handle LGBT issues.”
United States government officials, meanwhile, have lauded the newly christened Bolsonaro administration. President Donald Trump tweeted that “the U.S.A. is with you!” following Bolsonaro’s inauguration, per The Hill, and outgoing United Nations ambassador Nikki Haley tweeted her praise as well.
“It’s great to have another U.S.-friendly leader in South America, who will join the fight against dictatorships in Venezuela and Cuba, and who clearly understands the danger of China’s expanding influence in the region,” Haley said, per Salon.