One gone, two to go! Deadly derechistas, right-wingers in the Américas, North, South, and Central. Trump gone (but not forgotten). But, still in charge are Bolsonaro of Brazil; Ortega of Nicaragua. And they are still racist and misogynist.
They are still hampering recovery from Covid-19 and, thus, perpetuating economic stagnation.
Explanations? Connections of right wing ideology and the cult of egoistic personality, in each country. Links of right wing economic policies and foolish, cross-border, mutual imitation of pseudo-machismo in each. Trump’s rude, four-year interruption of the US democratic model has ended, but has left serious weaknesses in the system. Fellow-travelers Bolsonaro and Ortega remain in power, at least until November for the Nicaraguan president, 2022 for the Brazilian president. Gracias/Obrigado á Dios, the US former right wing president is gone.
Down below, “a second wave of Covid-19 is ripping through Brazil, pushing hospitals and ICUs toward collapse, claiming record numbers of daily deaths” (Charner, Flora and Marcia Reverdosa, “Brazil Plunges into Crisis,” CNN, 11 Mar 21). Brazilians defy mask mandates and mobility restrictions, following the devil-may-care example of President Jair Bolsonaro. He recently accused his countrymen of being “sissies,” telling them to “stop whining” about the virus. Gonzalo Vecina Neto, a Sao Paulo University Professor of Public Health, told Reuters: “this could have been avoided.” The death toll is second highest in the world, after the US, its ICU system, full, near collapse.
Causes of the new CV wave? Since New Year’s eve, up to Lent, celebrations were held in defiance of city and state orders. As in Brazil, in the US the former president (and right wing governors, such as Abbott in Texas) urged stores and bars to reopen, disregarding scientific warnings. Bolsonaro made flaunting the law—and common sense—a point of pride, congratulating those who did not “stay home like cowards.” This, in spite of the new, more contagious variant/virus now attacking the country (and threatening the US).
Brazil’s vaccination roll-out is slow, in comparison to Mexico, which still has its problems. AMLO is an eccentric president but not a derechista. Bolsonaro, like Trump, advocates his own brands of medicine, discrediting others on the market: “if you take Pfizer, and turn into an alligator, it’s your problem; a woman may grow a beard, a man may develop a high-pitched voice.” There is no coordinated policy, no leadership, except mindless speculation from the right-wing, authoritarian Bolsonaro. Thank God, gone for now are Trump and his recommendations to “try bleach!”
Moving from South America to Central America, the news is not much better. In Nicaragua, the authoritarian president, Daniel Ortega, has banned opposition from November elections. He attacks the Catholic Church and other opponents (even by alleged burning of an ancient, venerated wooden cross). He has exhibited “bizarre and dangerous” actions in regard to Covid-19, covering up statistics and encouraging large gatherings (“Democracy Dies in Darkness,” Washington Post, 4 Dec 20). The misogyny is there as well. Only Bolsonaro’s anti-Black racism seems missing, although the Black east coast has always been economically cut off from any progress in the main centers of the country.
Why is it that right wingers—the same attitudes and behaviors in Latin America as in the US—persist in their racism, their anti-female stances and, to a great extent, their puzzling, anti-science views? How does all that fit together? It’s odd, troubling, and dangerous—and a warning to us voters. Yet, we now see—clearly—which ideology, which party, is pro-the-people, and which opposed. (Clue: which party voted in the US—unanimously—against the recent Covid/economic aid package?) A lesson even closer to home: Right wing Attorney General, Ken Paxton, almost a secessionist Texan, acting in concert with right-wing Republican Governor, Greg Abbott, now threatens to sue Austin and Travis County for following the science and maintaining mask mandates! The “Religious Right is Neither!” Perhaps the better, broader question: why do so many Texans put up with their racist, science-denying, election-result-denying state officials?
Time for change!
Editor’s Note: The above guest column was penned by writer and researcher Gary Joe Mounce. It appears in The Rio Grande Guardian with the author’s consent. Mounce can be reached at: [email protected].
Editor’s Note: The main image accompanying the above guest column shows protestors displaying banners and a doll of Donald Trump hooked up to a bottle of bleach during a rally outs the U.S. Consulate General in Hong Kong, China, on May 30, 2020. (Photo: EPA).