A Common Refrain in US and Brazil: ‘We Don’t Want Socialism Anymore’

March 20, 2019 Updated: March 21, 2019

WASHINGTON—Brazil and the United States have formed a new relationship based on their presidents’ shared rejection of socialism.

Brazil’s new President Jair Bolsonaro chose to make his first bilateral overseas trip to Washington, where he sealed a “promising alliance” between his country and the United States.

In a joint press conference in the White House Rose Garden, Bolsonaro said socialist regimes had “nearly conquered power throughout Latin America in recent times.” But, by democratic means, he said Brazilians were able to rid themselves from socialists, referring to the country’s once-dominant Workers’ Party and former Presidents Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva and Dilma Rousseff.

Bolsonaro echoed President Donald Trump’s views on socialism, saying that Brazil and the United States stand side by side to protect “liberties,” and respect “traditional family lifestyles,” and “God, our Creator.” He added that they would stand against the “gender ideology or the politically correct attitudes and against ‘fake news.’”

Bolsonaro, who’s been described as the “Trump of the Tropics,” won the election last October by a wide margin and became president of Brazil on Jan. 1.

Before his election, he served 17 years in the army and nearly three decades in Brazil’s Congress. Known for his offensive remarks and tweets, Bolsonaro branded himself as a “clean” candidate amid a sea of corrupt politicians.

He has often expressed his admiration for the United States and Trump. During his visit, he said he was pleased to be in Washington, particularly after decades of “anti-U.S.” leaders in his country.

“The United States changed in 2017, and Brazil has just started to change now, in 2019,” he said. “We want to have a great America, yes, and we also want to have a great Brazil.”

‘A Miracle’

In an interview with The Epoch Times on March 16, Eduardo Bolsonaro, a congressman in Brazil and the son of Brazil’s president, called the election of his father “a miracle.”

“It says a lot about the moment that we are living in,” he said, adding that there is growing support for like-minded counterparts.

Bolsonaro’s victory signaled a conservative turn for Latin America. His election came on the heels of the rise of conservative governments in Chile, Colombia, Paraguay, and Argentina.

Just six years ago, there was no conservative party in Brazil and it was hard for his father to find a party that would back his presidency, Eduardo Bolsonaro said.

“And now we are the biggest party of the Congress,” he said, calling it a “dream.”

“So it’s not a movement about the extreme right, as the press usually sees that we are. It’s something that is natural and is a huge message that ‘we don’t want socialism anymore.’”

‘Twilight Hour of Socialism’

Trump said the United States and Brazil were united in their opposition to the socialist dictators of Venezuela, Cuba, and Nicaragua.

Since taking office in 2017, Trump has lambasted socialism and communism on the world stage. During his speech in the Rose Garden, Trump blamed socialism for the economic collapse of Venezuela, once one of the region’s richest countries. He said he hoped that the “twilight hour of socialism” had arrived in the Americas.

“The last thing we want in the United States is socialism,” Trump said, in a reference to growing support for far-left socialist ideas among Democrats and his 2020 election challengers like the Green New Deal and Medicare for all.

According to the Heritage Foundation, socialism is considered as a political alternative taken seriously by millennials in the United States. And the Great Recession of 2008 accelerated the shift toward socialism.

“It tore a huge hole in the American people’s belief in capitalism as the way to a better life and sent them looking for alternatives,” Lee Edwards, historian of American conservatism at the Heritage Foundation, wrote in a report.

Edwards noted that most young people, however, could not correctly define socialism in a survey despite their favorable view of socialism.

Replacing U.S. policies with highly socialist policies such as Venezuela’s would result in a 40 percent decline in real GDP in the long run and cost about $24,000 per year for the average person, according to a new report from the White House Council of Economic Advisers published this week.

“Socialism is like a school. People like it,” Eduardo Bolsonaro said, adding, however, that it comes with a high price.

“It was during the term of Dilma Rousseff. And we faced 14 million unemployed. It was really hard. It was—I think—the worst economic crisis, ever in Brazil.”

Ernesto Araujo, Brazil’s minister of foreign affairs, praised Trump for opening new avenues for the conservative movement in the world.

According to him, the “enemy of the West is not Russia or China, nor is it an enemy state, but indeed primarily an enemy within, abandoning one’s own identity.”

Trump’s “movement here will win by bringing people’s perception back to where they should be,” he told The Epoch Times on March 19. He stressed the importance of reclaiming the soul of a nation and conservative values, which are essential for a strong liberal economy.

Follow Emel on Twitter: @mlakan