Racism 'rare' in Brazil, says far right Bolsonaro

Rio de Janeiro (AFP) –


Racism is an insignificant problem in Brazil, according to President Jair Bolsonaro, who has been accused of not just racist but also homophobic and sexist comments in the past.

Bolsonaro spoke to Rede TV in an interview broadcast on Tuesday night, in which he defended his record on a number of controversial subjects.

"Racism is rare in Brazil. I'm fed up with this mania of always pitting blacks against whites, gays against heterosexuals," Bolsonaro said in an interview with celebrity presenter Luciana Gimenez, best known for having had a son with British pop icon Mick Jagger.

"People say I'm homophobic, racist, fascist, xenophobic, but I won the election," said the far right leader.

"With such a CV I should not have even been elected as a municipal councilor. The people understood that an innocent was being shot at."

In demonstrating his non-racist credentials, ex-army captain Bolsonaro pointed to an incident in 1978 when he saved a drowning soldier "who happened to be black."

"If I was racist, what would I have done on seeing a black fall into the water? I'd have folded my arms," said Bolsonaro, who has appointed no black people in his government.

In Brazil, 54 percent of the population is either black or mixed race.

Once, following a visit to a settlement of African slave descendants called a quilombo, Bolsonaro suggested they were all overweight and said: "They don't do anything. They're no use even to procreate."