Jair Bolsonaro

Jair Bolsonaro
Federal Deputy for Rio de Janeiro
Assumed office
1 February 1991
Alderman of Rio de Janeiro
In office
1 January 1989 1 February 1991
Personal details
BornJair Messias Bolsonaro
(1955-03-21) 21 March 1955 (age 63)
Glicério, State of São Paulo, Brazil
Political party
  • PSL (2018–present) [1]
  • PSC (2016–2018)
  • PP (2005–2016)
  • PFL (2005)
  • PTB (2003–2005)
  • PPB (1995–2003)
  • PPR (1993–1995)
  • PP (1993)
  • PDC (1989–1993)
  • Rogéria Nantes Braga (div.)
  • Ana Cristina Valle (div.)
  • Michelle Reinaldo(m. 2013)
Children 5, including Eduardo
Alma mater Agulhas Negras Military Academy
Website Official website
Military service
Allegiance Brazil
Service/branch Brazil Brazilian Army
Years of service 1971–1988
Rank Captain
Commands 8th Field Artillery Group
9th Parachute Artillery Group

Jair Messias Bolsonaro (Portuguese:  [ʒaˈiʁ meˈsiɐs bowsoˈnaɾu] ; born 21 March 1955) is a Brazilian politician and former military officer. He has been a member of the Chamber of Deputies since 1991 and is currently a member of the Social Liberal Party (PSL). A controversial figure in Brazil, he is known for his far-right and populist political views, including sympathetic comments about Brazil's 1964–1985 military dictatorship. [2] [3] [4] [5]

He is his party's presidential candidate in the 2018 Brazilian presidential election. [5]


Early life

Jair Bolsonaro was born on 21 March 1955 in the city of Glicério, São Paulo, [6] in the southeast region of Brazil, to Perci Geraldo Bolsonaro and Olinda Bonturi, both of Italian descent. [7]

Bolsonaro has been married three times and has five children. His first wife was Rogéria Bolsonaro (with whom he has three sons: Flávio, Carlos and Eduardo). His second marriage was with Ana Cristina (with whom he has one son, Renan). His third and current wife is Michelle de Paula Firmo Reinaldo Bolsonaro, with whom he has his only daughter, Laura. [8] While working in Congress, Jair Bolsonaro hired his wife as a secretary and over the next two years she received unusual promotions and her salary more than tripled. He had to fire her after the Supreme Federal Court ruled that nepotism is illegal in the public administration. [9] As of 2016, Bolsonaro and his wife lived in Barra da Tijuca, Rio de Janeiro. [10]

Military career

In his final years in high school, Bolsonaro was admitted to the prep school of the Brazilian Army and then was sent to the Academia Militar das Agulhas Negras (Brazil's main military academy), graduating in 1977. He briefly served in the army's parachutist units. His superior officers described him as "ambitious and aggressive". [11] [2]

His first rise to publicity came in 1986 when he gave an interview to the news magazine Veja . He complained about low salaries in the military and claimed that the High Command was firing officers due to budgetary cuts and not because they were displaying 'deviations of conduct', as the command was telling the press. [12] Despite being reprimanded by his superiors, Bolsonaro received praise from fellow officers and wives of military men, becoming a household name for a lot of hardliners and right-wingers who were growing disenchanted with Brazil's new civilian democratic government. [13] Bolsonaro served in the military for seventeen years, reaching the rank of Captain.

Political career

In 1988, he entered politics by getting elected city councilor in Rio de Janeiro by the Christian Democratic Party. In the 1990 elections, he was elected a federal congressman from the same party. He served four consecutive terms. He has been affiliated with several other Brazilian political parties over the years. In 2014, he was the congressman who gained the most votes in Rio de Janeiro, with 464,000 votes.

In his 25 years of service in the Brazilian National Congress, he put forward at least 173 bills and one constitutional amendment, but failed to pass almost all his proposed laws. [14] According to Bolsonaro, who claims to be persecuted by the left-wing parties, most congressmen do not vote according to their agenda, but "by who the author of the bill is". [15]

In January 2018, Bolsonaro abandoned the Social Christian Party and switched to the Social Liberal Party (PSL). [16] Following his arrival, the PSL abandoned its previous social liberal stances and moved to national conservative right-wing positions.[ citation needed ]

2018 presidential campaign

Logo used by Jair Bolsonaro 2018 presidential campaign

On 22 July 2018, Bolsonaro was officially nominated by the Social Liberal Party (PSL) as its presidential candidate for the 2018 election. [17] Bolsonaro was also endorsed by the Brazilian Labour Renewal Party. His coalition name was "God above all" (Deus acima de todos). Though contested by two lawsuits, the Superior Electoral Court of Brazil deferred them and his candidacy was made official on 6 August. [18]

Bolsonaro announced in August that Antônio Hamilton Mourão, a retired army general, would be his running mate for the upcoming election. [19]

According to political pundits, early in the campaign, Bolsonaro moderated his tone, taking a less aggressive and confrontational style. Economically, he started to support the idea of less government intervention in the economy (in contrast to what he has stated in the past, when he defended developmentalists policies). On the other hand, he maintained his tough stance on crime and his defense of "traditional family values". [20] Bolsonaro also said he plans to cut taxes across the board, particularly on businesses and inheritances, in order to generate growth and tackle unemployment. [21] He also promised more austerity measures and cuts in government spending, but was skewed on naming the areas where he would do those cuts. He also mentioned he would work to diminish the size and bureaucracy of the federal government by throwing a wild variety of deregulation measures. [22]

On 9 August 2018, he attended the first presidential debate of the year, organized by the TV network Rede Bandeirantes. [23] A week later, there was another debate at RedeTV!. [24] On 28 August, he gave an interview to Jornal Nacional, Brazil's best rated primetime news program, at Rede Globo. [25]

Jair Bolsonaro was the first candidate for the presidency that was able to raise over a $1 million reais in donations from the public during the 2018 campaign. In the first 59 days, he amassed an avarage of $17,000 reais per day in donations. [26]

Attack during campaign event

Bolsonaro was stabbed in the stomach on 6 September 2018 while campaigning and interacting with supporters in the city of Juiz de Fora, Minas Gerais. [27] At first, his son Flávio  (pt ) stated that his father's wounds were only superficial and he was recovering in the hospital. [28] But Flávio Bolsonaro later stated that the wounds seemed worse than initially thought [29] and his father most likely wouldn't be able to start campaigning personally before the end of the first round. [30] He tweeted about his father's condition, explaining that the perforation reached parts of the liver, lung, and intestine. He also stated that Bolsonaro had lost a large amount of blood, arriving at the hospital with severe hypotension (his blood pressure was 10/3, equivalent to 100/30 mmHg), but that he had since stabilized. [31] [32] [27] The attack was condemned by most of the other candidates in the presidential race, from both sides of the political spectrum, and by Brazilian President Michel Temer. [33] The day after the attack, Bolsonaro was transferred to the Albert Einstein Israelite Hospital, in São Paulo, after a request from his family. According to the doctors, he was in an "extremely stable" condition. [34]

Police arrested and identified the attacker as Adelio Bispo de Oliveira, who, according to security agents, claimed he was on "a mission from God". [35] He had been a member of the Socialism and Liberty Party between 2007 and 2014. His social media posts included political criticisms against both Bolsonaro and Temer. [36]

Political views

Bolsonaro in 2010

Bolsonaro's political views have been described as nationalist and populist in nature, and he is often described by the media as an advocate of far-right policies. [37] [38] His supporters, however, claim that his views are more aligned with traditional right-wing conservatism. [39] His electorate is mainly formed by young people (usually between 16 and 24), the working middle to upper class (mainly in the southeast region of the country), conservatives in general, college graduates, some centrists and the Christian right. [40]

Jair Bolsonaro is known for his strong opposition to left-wing policies. Most notably, he has been a vocal opponent of same-sex marriage, [41] abortion, [42] affirmative action (particularly racial quotas), [43] immigration [44] (particularly from Haiti, Africa and the Middle East, which he once called "the scum of humanity"), [38] drug liberalization, [45] land reforms [46] and secularism at the state level [45] among other things. [47] He has also made statements in defense of the Brazilian military regime [48] (a dictatorship known for constant human rights violations). [49] He claims that torture is a "legitimate practice" and says that he would change the Brazilian penal code and would try to pass new legislation regarding the introduction of life imprisonment and capital punishment (which is currently banned under the Constitution of Brazil of 1988). [50] Bolsonaro supports the privatization of state-owned companies and advocates free market policies, [51] although critics have stated that his policy-making record does not in fact show him to be a supporter of economic liberalism. [52]

In a 2017 interview with journalist Claudio Dantas Sequeira from O Antagonista, Bolsonaro said that his views are directly aligned with centrist to right-wing United States citizens' views on gun ownership, abortion, gender politics and trade, despite the "left-leaning media frenzy" against him. He reiterated that he intends to reverse some disarmament laws, improve public security, and also improve trade ties with the United States, which he said were broken during Lula da Silva's and Dilma Rousseff's administrations. [53]


Bolsonaro has expressed many far-right political views during his long political career. [54] He strongly advocates against the legalization of same-sex unions and same-sex marriage, whilst expressing statements that some people consider insulting, homophobic, violence-inciting, [55] [56] [57] misogynistic, sexist, [58] [56] [57] or racist [59] [56] [57] or anti-refugee. [60] Other controversial political stances expressed by Bolsonaro have been of the defense of the death penalty and of radical interventionism in Brazil by the military, along with an imposition of a Brazilian military government. [45] [61]

American journalist Glenn Greenwald called Bolsonaro "the most misogynistic, hateful elected official in the democratic world". [62] News.com.au wondered whether Bolsonaro was "the world’s most repulsive politician". [59] British news magazine The Economist referred to him as a "radical", "religious nationalist", a "right-wing demagogue", and "apologist of dictators". [63]

Views on women

In an interview with Zero Hora in 2015, Bolsonaro argued that men and women should not receive the same salaries, because women get pregnant; adding that he believes federal law mandating paid maternity leave harms work productivity. [64]

In a public speech in April 2017, Bolsonaro said that he had five children, that the first four were male and that for the fifth he produced a daughter out of "a moment of weakness". [65]

Bolsonaro arguing with Federal Deputy Maria do Rosário in the Chamber of Deputies, 14 September 2016

Bolsonaro provoked controversy for a series of remarks made to and about Federal Deputy and former Human Rights Minister Maria do Rosário. During a Congressional debate, Bolsonaro said that minors should be treated as adults if they commit heinous crimes such as murder or rape, to which Maria do Rosário responded by calling him a "rapist". [66] [67] [68] Bolsonaro then stated that Congresswoman do Rosário was "not worthy of being raped." [69] The remarks drew considerable condemnation throughout Brazil. In the aftermath of these remarks, Bolsonaro was tried and convicted in a Federal court in September 2015 on counts of hedonic damages against Rosário. [70] In June 2016, the Federal Supreme Court responded to a complaint filed by the Attorney General and decided to open two criminal actions against Bolsonaro. The Supreme Court ruled that he had potentially incited rape and defamed the honor of his fellow Deputy. He faced a penalty of 3 to 6 months of imprisonment and a fine. [71] Ultimately in August 2017, an appellate court upheld a lower court's verdict which found Bolsonaro guilty and sentenced him to pay a fine to Rosário of R$10,000 (roughly equivalent to US$2,500). [72]

Views on the Brazilian military dictatorship

Throughout his political career, Bolsonaro has made a number of admiring comments about the Brazilian military dictatorship which ruled the country from 1964 to 1985. He said in 1993, eight years after the return of democracy, that the military regime had "led to a more sustainable and prosperous Brazil". [2] Bolsonaro has publicly referred to the military dictatorship has a "glorious" period in Brazil's history, [73] and that the under the military dictatorship, Brazil enjoyed "20 years of order and progress." [74] In December 2008, Bolsonaro said that "the error of the dictatorship was that it tortured, but did not kill." [75]

Bolsonaro has also repeatedly made admiring comments about a number of other Latin American dictatorships. He praised Peruvian president Alberto Fujimori as a role model for his use of military intervention against the judiciary and legislature. [2] In a 1998 interview with Veja magazine, Bolsonaro praised the Chilean dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet, and said the Pinochet regime, which killed over 3,000 Chilean citizens, "should have killed more people." [76]

Speaking before his vote in favor of President Dilma Rousseff's impeachment, Bolsonaro paid homage to Colonel Brilhante Ustra, an agent of Brazil's military dictatorship, and announced on the floor of the Chamber of Deputies that he was dedicating his pro-impeachment vote to Ustra's memory. Ustra had headed the DOI-CODI torture unit where Rousseff was tortured during the military dictatorship. Left-wing deputy Jean Wyllys spat at him after his own statement during the same session. The congressman claimed to have suffered homophobic offenses from Jair Bolsonaro and his allies. [77] [78]

In a TV interview with Câmera Aberta in the 1990s, Bolsonaro said that if he ever became President, he would use this as an opportunity to shut down the National Congress and instigate a military coup himself: [79]

"I have no doubts – I would begin the coup on the very first day! And I am sure that at least 90% of the people would commemorate or give me an ovation. The Congress today is good for nothing, they only vote in favor of the president's projects. If he is the person who makes the decisions, who calls the shots, who laughs at the Congress, then start the coup at once, and let's make this a dictatorship"

Accusations of homophobia

The LGBT-related magazine The Advocate has called Bolsonaro "Brazil's biggest homophobe". [80]

In a June 2011, interview with Playboy , Bolsonaro said that "I would be incapable of loving a gay son," and added that he would prefer any son of his "to die in an accident..." [81] In the same interview, Bolsonaro went on to say that if a gay couple moved in next door to him, it would lower the market value of his house. In a July 2011 interview with the magazine Época, Bolsonaro said that he would "fight to prevent the distribution of the 'gay kit' [a set of guidelines proposed by UNESCO to promote the rights of the LGBT community in primary schools, because their intention is to promote homosexuality, which is an affront to the family structure, and if that makes me prejudiced, then I'm prejudiced and very proud of it." [45] In the 2013 BBC documentary "Out There," by British actor Stephen Fry, Bolsonaro said that "no father is ever proud of having a gay son," and that "we Brazilians do not like homosexuals." [82]

In an 2011 interview with Jornal de Notícias, Bolsonaro linked homosexuality to pedophilia, claiming that "many of the children who are adopted by gay couples will be abused by these couples." He further argued that Brazil does not need legislation specifically targeting homophobia, because "most homosexuals are murdered by their respective pimps at hours when good citizens are already asleep." [83] In a May 2002 interview with the Folha de S.Paulo , Bolsonaro told the newspaper, "If I see two men kissing in the street, I will beat them." He then publicly defended beating gay children by saying: "If your child starts to become like that, a little gay, you take a whip and you change their behavior." [84]

In a video interview for Vice with actress Ellen Page, Page asked Bolsonaro if he thinks she should have been beaten as a child, in response to his public statements that gay children should be beaten. Bolsonaro replied to Page, "You are very nice. If I were a cadet in the military academy and saw you on the street, I would whistle at you. All right? You are very pretty.” [80] Bolsonaro added, "Over time, due to liberal habits, drugs, with women also working, the number of homosexuals has really increased." [80]

On November 9, 2017, the Court of Justice for the State of Rio de Janeiro sentenced Bolsonaro to pay a fine of $150,000 reais for hate speech because of televised comments he made in 2011 to the CQC TV program, when Bolsonaro stated that "there is no risk" of his family producing a homosexual child because his children had a "good education". Judge Luciana Teixeira said that the deputy had abused his right of free expression to commit a wrongful act. "You can not deliberately attack and humiliate, ignoring the principles of equality, just because you invoke freedom of expression," said the judge. [85]

Birth control for the poor

Bolsonaro provoked considerable controversy for public remarks made in July 2008, when he appeared to advocate the sterilization of poor people, who he suggested might be too uneducated to understand family planning education: "It is no good talking about education because most of these people are not prepared to receive education and will not educate themselves. Only birth control can save us from chaos," he said. [86] [87] [88]

Electoral performance


ElectionCandidateFirst roundSecond round


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Party political offices
Preceded by
Luciano Bivar
PSL nominee for President of Brazil
Most recent