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BRASILIA, Brazil (ChurchMilitant.com) - Fed up with years of socialist mismanagement, on Sunday, Brazilian voters elected right-wing populist Jair Bolsonaro — dubbed the "Trump of the Tropics" — their next president.
Seen as a rebuke of the country's political Establishment, the vote reflects the frustrations of a suffering electorate.
Latin America's behemoth is struggling. Brazil is plagued by rising crime and increasing social tensions. Corruption is endemic and deepening. The middle and lower classes are struggling to regain their footing after suffering through the worst recession in the country's modern history.
For 55 percent of Brazilian voters, Bolsonaro, with his sweeping calls for reform, represents a new way forward. His victory has sent shockwaves across the globe, with leftist media smearing the former army captain as a "far-right" threat to Brazilian democracy.
Like President Trump, Bolsonaro has distinguished himself by his brash statements; denouncing, for example, the "politics" of "human rights, and of the politically correct, give space to those who are against the law and on the side of criminals."
Detractors bemoan the former army captain's call to ease gun restrictions, to legalize capital punishment and to use the army to patrol Brazil's crime-ridden streets.
They bristle at his praise for Trump and his plans to move Brazil closer to Washington.
They fret over his nationalism — he campaigned under the slogan "Brazil above everything and God above everyone" — and his pledge to disengage from globalist trade pacts in favor of bilateral, country-to-country agreements.
Above all, leftists despise Bolsonaro's conservative social and religious worldview, denouncing him as a "misogynist" and "homophobe" for standing against the Culture of Death, which made great inroads during Brazil's preceding Socialist administrations.
An avowed Catholic, he has vowed to promote "the full right to life, from conception to natural death," by "combating any law or decision in favor of abortion, euthanasia, research with human embryos and human cloning."
With the Supreme Court debating legalization of abortion up to 12 weeks, Brazilian faithful have rallied to his pledge to block any weakening of the country's laws governing the right to life.
Bolsonaro has earned the ire of the Left by vowing to defend "the true meaning of marriage, as a union between man and woman," and to combat "gender ideology" and moves to liberalize drug and prostitution laws.
An avowed Catholic, earlier this month, Bolsonaro signed a declaration promising to protect "the family, constituted according to the teaching of the Church, and its right to educate the children," and as well as "the Catholic Faith and all of Her symbols, rites, manifestations and temples and confessional religious education."
At the same time, he maintains close ties to Brazil's thriving Protestant groups — conservative Evangelicals who now comprising roughly a quarter of the country's population.
After Bolsonaro's victory, President Trump tweeted his congratulations:
"Had a very good conversation with the newly elected President of Brazil, Jair Bolsonaro, who won his race by a substantial margin. We agreed that Brazil and the United States will work closely together on Trade, Military and everything else! Excellent call, wished him congrats!"
Bolsonaro shares a similar vision to that of the U.S. president: "Just like he wants to make America great, I want to make Brazil great," Bolsonaro said during his campaign.