Bolsonaro, Jair Messias

Bolsonaro, Jair Messias, 1955–, Brazilian political leader. Bolsonaro served in the army from 1973 to 1988, mostly during a period of military dictatorship; he rose to the rank of captain. Running as a Christian Democrat, he was elected to Rio de Janeiro's city council (1989–91) and Brazil's chamber of deputies (1991–2018). A social and economic conservative, he subsequently several times shifted his party affiliation, joining the Social Liberal party (PSL) in 2018. He became known for expressing admiration for military rule and for inflammatory remarks about women, blacks, and gays. In 2018, running for president in the wake of a severe recession, a rising crime rate, and a series of government corruption scandals and surviving an assassination attempt, he defeated Fernando Haddad of the Workers' party after a runoff. In office, he initially had difficulty winning legislative support for a number of controversial measures, though he did win passage (Oct., 2019) of an overhaul of the pension system. He also actively encouraged increased development in Brazil's interior, leading to an increase in deforestation there, and sought to prevent indigenous land claims and frustrate protection of indigenous reserves. Late in 2019, he left the PSL to found the Alliance for Brazil. During the COVID-19 pandemic, he was notable among the leaders of large nations for the degree to which he minimized the seriousness of the disease.

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