Brazil’s Department of Education announced a probe this week into a school after a 6th-grade Portuguese language teacher used an image depicting right-wing presidential frontrunner Jair Bolsonaro as a Nazi on an exam.
Brazil will hold its presidential election on Sunday. Polls show Bolsonaro with a significant lead, though not enough to prevent a run-off election between himself and the second most popular candidate. Brazil requires a second election if no candidate gets over 50 percent of the vote.
According to the Tribuna do Ceará, a regional newspaper, the exam, set for a public elementary school in the municipality of Solonópole, was intended for a 6th-grade Portuguese class to take at the end of September.
One of the exam’s questions showed an image of a man resembling Bolsonaro wearing a t-shirt with a swastika, the symbol of the Nazi party, on it and holding a bat with the accompanying speech bubble: “I do not believe in promiscuity! My son is well educated and does not run the risk of falling in love with blacks or gays.”
Children are then given a multiple choice selection of four presidential candidates: Bolsonaro, socialist Workers’ Party (PT) candidate Fernando Haddad, Podemos party candidate Alvaro Dias, and Geraldo Alckmin of the Brazilian Social Democracy Party, according to a report in a local Ceará newspaper.
The quote appears to be a reference to Bolsonaro once saying that his sons were too “well-educated” to date black women or men.
On a later question, a cartoon shows a pregnant woman talking to a friend, who asks her when her baby is due. The woman responds: “I don’t know, he won’t want to be born if Bolsonaro gets elected.”
Students are then asked which one of Bolsonaro’s policies the statement alludes to, whether it be the unification of medical records in general, the modernization education by purging the ideology of left-wing philosopher Paulo Freire, the reduction of wages for pregnant women or the reduction of the age of criminal responsibility to 16 years. The “correct” answer was C, being the alleged reduction of wages for pregnant women.
In a statement, Education Secretary Mair Gorette Pinto de Souza said that “it is not within the pedagogical guidelines that a teacher of the public school may use evaluative questions that in theory denigrate the image of one of the candidates for the presidency.”
The Tribuna do Ceará contacted a representative from the City Hall of Solonópole who said that the teacher had acted on their own.
“He has freedom of speech, but not in the classroom,” the spokesperson said, adding that “steps will be taken through the opening of an administrative disciplinary process.”
The 63-year-old former army captain, the presidential candidate for Brazil’s right-wing Social Liberal Party, is considered a frontrunner in next month’s election and could well clinch the presidency. He expressed disapproval of the report on Twitter.
“Exam at a school in the state of Ceará’s school has questions with criminal references regarding Bolsonaro,” he wrote.
Prova de escola pública no Ceará tem perguntas com referência criminosa a Bolsonaro. https://t.co/5sxSNS45mj
— Jair M. Bolsonaro (@jairbolsonaro) October 3, 2018
Since announcing his run for president, Bolsonaro has promised to restore law and order in a country that has experienced soaring levels of crime, particularly among its lawmakers. He has promised to fight endemic leftist corruption while promoting his clean political record.
However, he has also courted widespread controversy with remarks expressing support for the longstanding 20th-century Brazilian military dictatorship and playing down the human rights violations of Chilean military leader Augusto Pinochet. He has also angered many on the left by proposing a return to “Christian values” instead of prevailing social liberalism, implying they are not compatible.
Bolsonaro is also a known admirer of President Donald Trump who pledges to build closer ties with the United States, having praised the “union, patriotism, [and] Trump speaking about God and family — values that aren’t being followed in Brazil.” This week, Bolsonaro’s son Flavio also outlined his father’s support for individual gun rights similar to those preserved in the United States.
Last month, the strength of opposition to Bolsonaro’s candidacy was underlined after a socialist stabbed him at a campaign event in an attack that he nearly cost him his life and left him hospitalized for weeks. According to polling data released earlier this, Bolsonaro maintains a ten-point lead over leftist Workers’ Party candidate Fernando Haddad, while the outcome of a second-round run-off remains too close to call.