Brazil Elections: JP Cuenca: “Bolsonaro is a mixture of a clown, an evangelical pastor and a television presenter” | International

The Brazilian writer JP Cuenca, on a street in São Paulo.Renato Stop

In the midst of the presidential campaign, the writer JP Cuenca (Rio de Janeiro, 44 ​​years old) is working on a film about the progress of evangelism in Brazil. He wants to immerse himself in a phenomenon of enormous dimensions, after having been the target of a judicial crusade by more than a hundred pastors of one of the largest evangelical churches, an ally of President Jair Bolsonaro. The plaintiffs, in scattered and remote cities, sought damages for a scathing message he wrote on Twitter. “Brazil is a continental country that is changing its religion very quickly, and this has obvious, direct political consequences, closely related to Bolsonarism,” he says from his home in Sao Paulo in a video call interview. “We have to understand this phenomenon to live in this country in the coming decades, to start a conversation in Christian terms, to listen, to go where the other is and look for what we have in common,” he reflects.

“Brazilians will only be free when they hang the last Bolsonaro with the intestines of the last pastor of the Universal Church,” he wrote two years ago, paraphrasing a metaphor from almost three centuries. He deleted the tweet on the advice of his lawyers. Since then, he has won nearly a hundred lawsuits, although several dozen are still open, and he is excited that the investigation against the church for legal harassment can set a precedent that prevents similar cases. He also received insults and threats. Earlier he had been involved in another surreal situation when he learned that he had been time-dead for the authorities, an experience he fictionalized in I found out he was dead (Planet, 2017).

Ask. Where is Brazil headed?

Response. Regardless of what happens in the elections, we will have very complex and eventful years. To use an Argentine word, with a lot of quilombo. I think that the fascist moods in Brazil were always there, but they were dormant. Now they found a political vector with the Bolsonaros, but it does not end with this family. exceeds them. If they go to jail, they lose power; [pero] These people are going to continue to be armed and they are going to continue looking for leaders of the extreme right. It is as if the door to hell had been opened, and I feel that we are going to have to dispute spaces for many years in all places: in the legal system, in Congress, in the press, in the street. I am from Rio, a state totally dominated by the militias. Brazil is a country in conflict forever, forged in ethnocide, slavery, massacre and destruction of nature. Since we didn’t resolve any of those traumas, they’re still alive.

P. You filmed the massive act of Bolsonaro on the occasion of the bicentennial of independence. Did you manage to turn the commemoration into an electoral impulse?

R. I don’t think he won votes, but he showed power, because there were so many people. Although I respect Lula and I am going to vote for him, that day he made a statement that seemed wrong to me. He said there were only white people over 40 years old there. Is not true. There were people of all colors, of all ages; many blacks, women, gays even. I found it freaky. Bolsonaro is a homophobic, misogynist, racist declared. And there were these people calling it a myth, totally passionate. He is a very strong popular force. I think we are going to win the election, but these people are going to continue. And she is armed. He has a momentum politician, they are now the owners of the revolutionary thrust. The left is conservative, they are the punks, those who are against the system and the big press. Like Trumpism.

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P. What impressed you?

R. How fascism is joyful, and how Bolsonaro is a mixture of a clown with an evangelical pastor and a television presenter. It is pure entertainment. No matter how much they lose, it is a highly mobilized third. We have more votes, but they have more mobilization.

P. Christian churches helped bring Bolsonaro to power

R. Especially the evangelical ones, because there was a breaking point. Bolsonaro was very skillful in approaching this community. He married an evangelical, because he is a Catholic. At a certain point he starts to really be in the cults and make political pacts. But in the moment he loses power, all that changes.

P. There are days when there is no talk of campaign proposals, only of religion. Do churches still carry so much weight?

R. Too. They organize themselves, they launch candidates, they have a caucus in Congress. They do what the left stopped doing when it came to power: grassroots community work, which is creating communities, talking to people. That is very powerful. Evangelical churches are meeting places, they have become cultural, employment and social work centers. You have to understand this phenomenon, look at it closely. These churches succeeded in turning Christ into a bastion of the right; nothing can be less upright than Jesus Christ.

P. How does someone who has already written about his own death, as he did in I found out he was dead?

R. It was quite unpleasant the day I discovered all the documents, there is my name, my birth certificate, in the dead man’s pants pocket. But it is much worse to receive threats like photos of knives and guns, and people saying they want to kill you. It is more unpleasant to be threatened.

P. Two out of three voters fear politically motivated attacks. How did Brazil get to this point?

P. This was a crime with many perpetrators. For me, the main culprit is the press and television, even the one that today is against Bolsonaro, because they spent many years igniting the population against the PT, with coverage completely distanced from the events. That created a base for Bolsonarism to grow later. For me, the audiovisual work that injected the neo-fascist virus into Brazil is the film Elite troop, which helped naturalize a discourse of elimination of minorities. Before, the deaths of children in the favelas were not applauded. There are many culprits, but since I am from the field of the arts and the press, I am going to stick with these two.

P. Do you share fears about a coup?

R. Currently not. Trump lost the election, the US Secretary of Defense released an official statement supporting democracy and confidence in the Brazilian electoral system, the ambassador in Brasilia did the same. They were strong statements, from key figures in the US government. If the United States does not support it, the press, the banks, who supports it? The agribusiness that destroys the Amazon and the military? This power struggle seems unbalanced to me. I no longer believe in the threat of a coup at this time, I believed in it before Trump lost, the Bolsonarist movement is umbilically connected to Trumpism. Now, in this country, after Bolsonaro, we have more armed civilians than armed soldiers and police. That is unprecedented. These people live in a parallel world, powered by fake news. I tell my friends and family not to go out on the street that day.

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