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  • Brazilian Congressman and 2018 presidential hopeful Jair Bolsonaro.

    Brazilian Congressman and 2018 presidential hopeful Jair Bolsonaro. | Photo: Reuters

Jair Bolsonaro said people enjoyed “total freedom" during Brazil's military dictatorship, which lasted from 1964–1984.

Brazil's 2018 presidential hopeful, Jair Bolsonaro, a congressman representing the state of Rio de Janeiro, has spoken with the Financial Times about measures he would take for the "betterment" of Brazilian society. 

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If elected president, he said he would remove writer and philosopher Paulo Freire from public school curriculums, whom he described as "that horrible guy from the left."

During the audio-taped interview, he also took time to say that people enjoyed “total freedom" during the country's military dictatorship, which lasted from 1964-1984. He said Brazilians during this time "went to Disneyland and returned home.”

Alluding to ignoring cooperation with neighboring countries, Bolsonaro minced no words when affirming that he'd seek to build more partnerships, “namely, with the United States.”

To date, as indicated by recent surveys, Bolsonaro factors in as former Brazilian President Luiz Inacio "Lula" da Silva's closest competitor in next year's presidential bid.

During former Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff's impeachment vote, Bolsonaro used his congressional speaking time to not only express his vote in favor of her impeachment, but also to praise Carlos Brilhante Ustra. Ustra was the colonel who headed the dictatorship's notorious torture program in the 1970s.

Bolsonaro called him “the source of Dilma Rousseff’s dread,” referring to the fact the president was jailed for being a leftist guerrilla and suffered torture, including electrocution, under Ustra’s watch.

Maintaining her composure when asked about his statement in a press conference, Rousseff described the comments as “regrettable.”

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“It's terrible to see someone voting in tribute to the greatest torturer that this country has known,” she said, adding without mentioning names that she came to know the man in question after her arrest in the 1970s and that she withstood torture during “very dark times.”

Bolsonaro has also been quoted in the past as saying, “Women should earn less because they get pregnant" and "I'd be incapable of loving a homosexual son." Moreover, he said that the Brazilian dictatorship's "mistake" was "torturing and not killing” while claiming former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet "should have killed more people.”

Last month, a Datafolha poll showed Bolsonaro coming in second place in next year's presidential race, obtaining 16-17 percent of the votes. Meanwhile, Lula, who left office in 2011 with a record approval rating of 83 percent, comes in first place with 35-36 percent of votes.


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