Venezuela and Brazil's Trump of the Tropics triumph

In Venezuela, Hugo Chávez used to be called "Tropical Trotsky."

In Brazil today, Jair Bolsonaro, who just won the first round of Brazil's election by a gargantuan and "unexpected" margin, is called "Tropical Trump."

Polls, after all, had Bolsonaro and his leftist rival, Fernando Haddad, running about even, and boy, were they wrong.  Bolsonaro beat his leftist rival, surprise, surprise, by two to one.  Here's what you see when you Google Bolsonaro now:

Tropical Trump, indeed, and the media and their allies say that as if it's a bad thing.

The politician and the PSL have ridden a wave of rising anger at the Workers' Party, which their supporters blame for a prolonged recession, rising violent crime and widespread corruption in South America's largest economy.

In his victory speech, broadcast live on Facebook and uploaded on to Twitter, he said Brazilians could take the path of "prosperity, liberty, family, on God's side" or the path of Venezuela.

But the more astute observers of Latin America, such as Carlos Alberto Montaner, who's one of the authors of the excellent Guide to the Perfect Latin American Idiot, and Venezuela's estimable Pedro Burelli, said the big issue was Venezuela and seeing firsthand how its rabidly left-wing path had led to such ruin.  Apparently, Brazil's voters – who are seeing the mayhem and ruin and hearing the horror stories firsthand, given their proximity to the socialist hellhole and the spillover of its refugees – are walking over broken glass to make sure it never happens in Brazil.

Here are a couple of their tweets.  (I am using screen grabs so that the translations are visible, but you can click the direct links here and here.)

(Microsoft translation additional clarification: "Ripe" means Maduro, d means "of," and q means "that.")

The map shows that all of the regions of Brazil that share a border with Venezuela voted for Bolsonaro.  This, despite these being poor, often jungly regions, and the media claiming that these poor regions longed for more promised left-wing handouts like the old days under President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva before a corruption scandal landed him in jail.

No, it was Venezuela, and they didn't want to be the next Venezuela.  The possibility of that was real, given the parlous state of Brazil's finances following 16 years of socialist spending and the fact that whoever rules the place in the end will have no choice but to cut the size of its huge socialist government, according to this very good Economist analysis here.  Electing lefties will get you financial ruin every time – and at a huge cost to jobs and prosperity.  Been there, done that over in Brazil.  The other thing was, the country could clearly see where that awfulness would lead: next door to Venezuela and as a frontline state for Venezuela's millions of fleeing refugees.  You can bet that a Bolsonaro administration will put a stop to that.

As the press kvetches, and calls the man a far rightist, Tropical Trump (the Guardian is despairing, go ahead and snicker), and all that – the rest of us pretty well know what happened.  The political situation was so ensludgened, the Deep State was so deep and corrupt, and the Venezuelan-style left-wingery so spun out of control that all they wanted was their very own Trump to fight it.  Along comes Bolsonaro with his pro-gun, pro-family, pro-small government, pro-free market ideas – and most important of all, his Trump-like willingness to fight, and the nation dropped everything and ran with him.

As the media howl (Foreign Policy called Bolsonaro "Goebbels" to expand its Trump-Is-Hitler theme), the rest of us see good stuff in store for Brazil: Given Bolsonaro's free-market, small-government, pro-family, and pro-gun ownership stances, along with his respect for history and his willingness to stand up to both Venezuela and what Venezuela stands for, it's obvious that Brazil has got at least a fighting chance of digging itself out of its leftist hole.

Oh, and it's a revolution, not a pretty face.  Bolsonaro did spectacularly well at the polls, and so did his party.  As he takes office, he's bringing a whole congress along with him.  His political party, known as the Social Liberal Party (PSL), had been a nothingburger until recently; today, it's looking to sweep a big majority in the legislature along with him.

Think he's going to win at the final round in a couple of weeks?  I think he's going to win.  And yeah, let's all give a big hand to Trump of the Tropics for following the Trump example for some Trump results for Brazil.  That's what happens, as we can testify, and we like it!

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