News Release

Far-Right Extremism in Brazil

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A new report examines the presence of and connections between far-right hate and extremist groups in Brazil. 

WENDY VIA; wendy@globalextremism.org 
     Via is a president and cofounder of the Global Project Against Hate and Extremism (GPAHE). 

Via told the Institute for Public Accuracy: GPAHE’s country reports “connect the dots between far-right extremists in the U.S. and in other countries. They span the spectrum––from neo-Nazis to powerful, anti-LGBTQ think tanks. We can almost always find a transnational connection. Sometimes these connections run from violent, racist groups to the coat-and-tie policy people. That is true in Brazil as well.”

Far-right groups in Brazil are especially connected to the U.S. and to Portugal. “There is quite a bit of connection to Portugal,” Via said, “because Portuguese is not spoken worldwide. Portugal [is seen as] a ‘home country’ for Brazilians who identify as Europeans. It’s a white supremacy thing… Sometimes people have confusion about why there is white supremacy in Latin American countries. But Brazil was colonized by Portugal, [so some Brazilians] consider themselves of European descent. It’s about identification. Some [people] don’t consider themselves to be the descendents of native populations in South America. They consider themselves white Europeans. And they are accepted by white supremacists in the U.S. 

“When it comes to the far-right extremist hate groups, like the Hammerskins or the Proud Boys and others, they all come from the U.S. Some of them have been around for a long time and they get inspiration from one another. The internet has made it easy for these ideologies to spread. For folks in different countries looking for some solution or a place to put their angst and anger, they can do it by organizing online and in real life… You can see [the connections] if you know who to look for and where to look. This is just what is available publicly. These groups all have private chat rooms and forums. It’s harder to get in there, but that’s where plans are made or shared… We have seen a number of violent incidents in Brazil. The number is remarkable, particularly looking at the number of young people who [have] committed these acts of violence. 

“The rise of anti-LGBTQ think tanks and resource groups [can be seen] in every country. They’re all connected and they’re all connected to groups in the U.S. [Some are] focused on restricting and rolling back rights for LGTBQ folks, women, and people of color. 

“Neo-Nazi symbols are banned [in Brazil] but they’re everywhere. [Brazil] seems to emulate the U.S. a little bit more [than other countries]. They have Proud Boy clubhouses that replicate some of the U.S. activity… It’s shocking to see the use of the swastika so openly. That might seem simplistic, but it is shocking. [The swastika is] outlawed in so many countries and is such an anathema to so many countries. We are seeing it more and more.

“Lula has been very strong on far-right extremism and defines it the way we see it––as a spectrum. They have done some work to get legislation to address [extremism] on the internet, and there are some initiatives in place. But it may be too soon to say that it has made a difference yet. Those folks who rejected Lula the first time around, or who sprung up during Bolsonaro[‘s presidency], have yet to be diminished at this point. If Lula passes good economic policies and makes society run well, we will see [some of this extremism] drift away.” 

Via noted the presence of one Brazilian movement known as the Integralist movement. “It’s not a group, but more of a way of thinking.” This movement grew out of mid-20th century Brazilians who wanted to replicate Mussolini’s approach in Italy at the time. “There was a ton of racism in Mussolini’s regime; Brazilians didn’t want to be blatantly racist, so they eschewed that part of it but took on the materialistic, corporate, typical fascist approach. They went out of favor over the years but there’s been a bit of a resurgence. The [movement supports] a strong government that will manage the economy and do things based on religious ideology. Their open bigotry is against LGBTQ folks, particularly trans people, and some antisemitism.”