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MAGA asks: Who's hiding the real Bolsonaro and his MBGA (Make Brazil Great Again) army?

Eraldo Perez
Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro speaking at the Alvorada presidential palace in Brasilia on Tuesday, as his congressman son Eduardo Bolsonaro stands behind him.

COMMENTARY: The Jair is supposedly the Brazilian clone of The Donald. So why isn't Bolsonaro calling on his followers to overturn his presidential re-election defeat?

OK, who’s hiding the real right-wing Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro? Just two days after he loses his re-election bid on Sunday by a margin as thin as a slice of picanha, he really indicates he won’t challenge the result and will make the transition of power as amicable as Tom and Gisele’s divorce?

He suggests he’ll “follow all the commandments” of Brazil’s constitution? He admonishes his MBGA (Make Brazil Great Again) troops to adhere to “peaceful” protests?

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Yes, I understand Bolsonaro — appallingly — has yet to actually concede (although reportedly he told Brazil’s supreme court behind closed doors he realizes “it’s over”) and that he hasn’t quit his unsubstantiated bellyaching about the “injustices” of the country’s electoral system.

But, come on, this is The Jair who was supposed to be the Amazon clone of The Donald?

This isn’t how masters of the Great White Christian Reconquest that’s reclaiming countries like Brazil and America respond when woke institutional democracy violates them like an FBI agent rifling through a Mar-a-Lago boudoir.

READ MORE: Macho and maskless: Trump, Bolsonaro make U.S., Brazil weaker COVID prey

Two days? Heck, a full two months after Donald Trump lost re-election by twice the percentage of popular votes Bolsonaro was denied, the MAGA Madman wasn’t just obstructing the U.S. presidential transition. There he was on Jan. 6, 2021, diabolically barking at his bug-eyed cult followers to violently storm Capitol Hill and attempt to overturn the constitutionally legitimate result of that 2020 contest. They obeyed — and came horrifyingly close to succeeding.

Doesn’t Bolsonaro realize how much like um banana — a wimp — he now looks by comparison? Sure, hordes of pro-Bolsonaro truck drivers have blocked highways across Brazil this week; but late Wednesday Bolsonaro asked them to go home. And he's not ordering anyone in Brazil’s Congress to grandstand and nullify Sunday’s ballots. In fact, Bolsonaro Buddies there have accepted Jair’s defeat — and told him to get over it.

This isn’t how masters of the Great White Christian Reconquest that’s reclaiming countries like Brazil and America are supposed to respond when woke institutional democracy mugs them.

Don’t they realize how banana they look compared to the legions of Trump Toadies in the U.S. Congress? Aren’t they emboldened at all by the large bloc there — including Miami’s own Republican congressmen Mario Diaz-Balart and Carlos Gimenez — who so courageously voted on Jan. 6 to trash the same legalized Electoral College votes that Trump’s whack warriors had hours before tried to shred? (And let’s not forget Miami’s Republican Congresswoman Maria Elvira Salazar, who couldn’t vote that day but cast her own aspersions on the election result.)

And what about all those real fears Bolsonaro was stoking just a few months ago about a post-election coup? He wasn’t just threatening to reject the election results if he lost — his rhetoric and actions strongly suggested he’d try to dragoon Brazil’s military into keeping him in power. Many of his backers on O Planeta MBGA are now shouting for the generals to intervene; but Bolsonaro doesn’t appear to be backing them.

Que banana, cara.

Resilient reactionaries

So instead of fearing Brazil will be an anti-democratic inspiration for all the U.S. election deniers itching to hijack next week’s midterm votes, we’re suddenly faced with the prospect that Brazil could be a democratic, post-populist example.

Bruna Prado
Bolsonaro supporters in Rio de Janeiro call on the Brazilian military to overturn the president's re-election loss.

For sure, the leftist who beat Bolsonaro on Sunday, former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, will have less room to maneuver than a Carnival reveler on a Rio sidewalk when he takes office Jan. 1. His victory margin was less than 2 percentage points; and Bolsonaro’s Partido Liberal won the most seats in both chambers of Congress and several state governorships.

Bolsonaro performed remarkably well for a man whose boorish pandemic denialism is widely blamed for Brazil’s epic COVID death tally, the world’s second-highest. He fell — but his movement, like Trump’s, looks as resilient as it is reactionary.

And yet, this week the Speaker of Brazil’s Chamber of Deputies — Bolsonaro ally Arthur Lira — not only was among the first to recognize Lula’s victory; he called Lula to congratulate him and reportedly has told colleagues he’ll work with him on several fronts (although that may not include protecting the Amazon rainforest, which Bolsonaro’s policies merrily torched).

Granted, Lira is jockeying to keep his speaker’s seat and may need support from Lula’s Workers Party.

Still, if you’re a MAGA flamekeeper in the U.S., you’ve got to be sadly asking: where are they hiding the real MBGA flamethrowers in Brazil?

Tim Padgett is the Americas editor for Miami NPR affiliate WLRN, covering Latin America, the Caribbean and their key relationship with South Florida.