In Venezuela, self-declared interim president Juan Guaidó is failing to ignite a military revolution. As a result, 25 Venezuelan soldiers who side with him fled. They now seek asylum in the Brazilian Embassy in Caracas. Knowing that their lives are at risk for defecting, they had few options. After all, betraying Maduro can carry a life sentence.
Thomas DiGennaro | Brazil
Brazil, since 2003, has been subject to some of the strictest gun regulations in the world, along with one of the highest murder rate in the world. To put that in a comparative perspective, the murder rate is 30.8 per 100,000 persons. Tremendously higher than the United States murder rates (less than 6 per 100,000 persons since the 1990s), despite the fact that in Brazil, owning a firearm without a license is a jail-able offense up to four years; issuing of license are limited to police, security officials, and hunters/sportsmen; and proof of residence, employment, technical and psychological capacity are all license requirements. These requirements are a part of the Disarmament Statute which took effect in 2003. There was a slight decline in Brazil’s murder rate after the passage of said legislation, but that rate continued to rise again shortly after and is still on the rise today.
Newly elected President Jair Bolsonaro ran on the platform of being tough on crime, hoping to combat the murder rates as countless politicians from every country on the face of the Earth have. However, his plan to combat crime is a tad different; make firearms more accessible to the general public. A former army paratrooper, President Bolsonaro stated in a post-election interview that being “politically correct” and disarming everyone isn’t the solution, supporting that claim with the fact that the regulations from the Disarmament Statue have not made progress towards disarming criminals. His campaign offices displayed across the front door, “If guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns”, the all too familiar argument American gun owners try to make their leftist counterparts privy to.
Bolsonaro’s promises have inspired hope in many, as supporters have flocked to shooting clubs to register for firearm safety and training. “I’m not going to run around the streets with a gun in my hand, but a criminal might think twice if normal citizens could be armed,” one Brazilian citizen and supporter of Bolsonaro’s proposals says. Brazilian gunmaker Taurus Armas SA stock rose almost 90% in anticipation of sales to be made during Bolsonaro’s term.
“Every honest citizen, man or woman, if they want to have a weapon in their homes should be able to have one,” says Bolsonaro, and it will certainly be interesting to see what kind of legislation is passed to relax gun laws and what effect this will have on Brazil’s murder rates.
Whatever may happen in Brazil, or anywhere else around the globe, one thing is certain: The fight for gun rights is alive and well in the United States and if we, the law-abiding, armed American citizens, properly educate our children on safety and handling, continue to keep discussion open, and do not compromise away our rights, the next generations may be armed to the teeth as well. This is all the more reason why Americans need to apply Bolsonaro’s mentality to combatting crime and gun violence.
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By Daniel Szewc | Poland
Jair Bolsonaro, the new president of the Brazilian Federation is, above all else, controversial. What is it that this man truly supports? More importantly, is it compatible with the Western vision of liberty and libertarianism?
A divisive figure, Bolsonaro managed to garner 55% of the vote by capturing two things: A stark reaction to the corrupt socialist government before him, and sympathy support from his being stabbed during a rally.
Trump of the Tropics?
Many people equate Bolsonaro to the American President, calling him “the Trump of the tropics”. At first glance, this is plausible: first and foremost, he used populist rhetoric to gain traction. Secondly, he played on the fact that he wanted to get rid of corruption, calling himself a non-corruptible person. This, of course, is just like Trump, who said that he would “Drain the swamp”.
Moreover, the political and the media mainstream gave both mainly negative attention. In the case of Bolsonaro, they often attributed him with racist views. For example, a news station edited an interview with him to make it seem like he said that his son wouldn’t marry a black woman because of his good upbringing. Bolsonaro actually said that his son wouldn’t marry a man for that reason. Of course, that also is a highly incendiary comment and this is not a defense of his often brash statements. Instead, it merely points out that the media often mischaracterizes both figures. The last similarity is the appeal to better times. In fact, this was a strong tool, for times now in Brazil are dire.
In contrast to Trump, Jair Bolsonaro’s pro-gun standpoint does not come from conservatism or legal values, but instead from libertarian ethics of freedom. Moreover, his idea to radically liberalize gun laws was his own idea, not one to please crowds. He wants to do it as a means to reduce gun violence by arming the weak. To do this, Bolsonaro would remove the Statute of Disarmament, a 2003 law that heavily limited civilian firearm use. Often seen shooting guns himself, the new president is likely to fulfill this promise.
Bolsonaro and Liberty: Mixed Signals
Before his campaign, Bolsonaro posted a video in which he claimed that democracy was a failure. Thus, his authoritarian position will make it unlikely that he cedes power to interest groups. However, Bolsonaro often spoke with sympathy towards the military dictatorship from decades ago. In fact, he only had one objection to it: they didn’t kill enough communists. A reactionary en masse, he claims that “Pinochet did what had to be done”.
Despite this, he has also said, “As long as you don’t rape, kidnap, you don’t commit armed robbery, you won’t go to jail- that’s all, damn it!” In saying so, he appears to be, in some ways, an advocate for a very small state with few laws. Famously, he has sentiments that oppose state programs that show very young children the nature of homosexuality. In a non-elegant fashion, he states that people can be gay wherever they want, as long as they do not indoctrinate the youth.
Contrary to his libertarian view on laws is his support of torture for violent criminals. Bolsonaro believes that they do not have the same rights as nonviolent individuals.
Above all, Bolsonaro believes in the right to private property. He emphasizes such heavily in many speeches, including his inaugural address. In fact, he proposes enormous tax cuts and curbing spending. The exception, in his case, is military spending. A captain parachutist, Bolsonaro has long been a supporter of a large military, which runs contrary to libertarian values. Despite this, he generally wants to end state industrial complexes and enterprises. A supporter of a relatively free market, he wants to increase private enterprise and deconstruct bureaucracy.
An Unknown Foreign Policy
When it comes to foreign relations, we only know a few vague ideas. Bolsonaro wants to end strong relations with the leftist states in the region, including Venezuela and Cuba. In exchange, he hopes to pursue strong ties with countries that can trade more with Brazil. Social media can actually give a good clue as to where Brasilia may be looking to for foreign relations. The day of the election, Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, congratulated the new leader. Just one day later, Bolsonaro met with the ambassador to Israel. The president-elect, even during his campaign, said that Palestine is not a country and should not have an embassy.
Matteo Salvini, the right-wing vice prime minister of Italy, was also happy to congratulate Bolsonaro. However, it is unclear whether this was for strategic or ideological reasons. The strong rivalry of America and Israel against China and its client states is getting stronger globally. It is very possible that Brazil could play a key role in tipping the scales one way or another. This is especially true if Bolsonaro compromises the political system and commits a coup, which he has hinted at. In such a case, no internal political powers could force him to re-establish the current system. Thus, befriending the authoritarian leader could be very beneficial to smaller nations like Italy.
Brazil is most capable of effectively ousting Venezuela’s Maduro through the means of military intervention. America could, but it would severely hurt their relations with China. All of this, thus, lies at the feet of Bolsonaro. He has the potential to take the country towards or away from liberty, and only time will tell which route he prefers.
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