October 29, 2018

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A day after the second round of elections in Brazil, the Atlantic Council's Adrienne Arsht Latin America Center hosted a Members and Press Call to discuss what Bolsonaro's presidency might mean for Brazil and for the future of US-Brazil bilateral relations. Below is the complete transcript and audio of the call.

JASON MARCZAK: Well, good afternoon, everyone. I'm Jason Marczak, I am the Director of the Adrienne Arsht Latin America Center here at the Atlantic Council, and thank you all for joining us for this rapid reaction on the record Atlantic Council members and press call on Jair Bolsonaro's win yesterday in the second round of Brazil's Presidential election. 

As we like to do with the Atlantic Council and, particularly, the Adrienne Arsht Latin America Center is provide rapid reaction to critical development across the hemisphere. And Jair Bolsonaro's win yesterday is definitely top among that. Over the next half hour, we will discuss what Bolsonaro's presidency means for the future of Brazil, changes that should be expected in Brazilian foreign policy and also what does it mean for Brazil's relations with the United States? 

I'm joined here by two colleagues. Each joining actually from Brazil, Roberta Braga. Roberta is the Associate Director of the Atlantic Council Adrienne Arsht Latin America Center. And among other things, Roberta leads our Brazil portfolio. Roberta's originally from Belo Horizonte, Brazil, where she joined the center over two years ago. And (has been) in Brazil over the last week as part of our joint work with the Digital Forensics Research Lab of the Atlantic Council and Roberta's calling in today from Rio. Hi, Roberta, how are you? 

ROBERTA BRAGA: Hi, Jason, I'm well. How are you? 

MARCZAK: Great. I'm also here with Ricardo Sennes. Ricardo is a Senior Fellow in the Adrienne Arsht Latin America Center. A position that Ricardo, I believe, has held for almost the entire five years of the Center's existence. Ricardo is also a partner Director at Prospectiva, a consulting firm on public policies and international business. Ricardo is a well-known and highly sought after political commentator on all issues in Brazil and is calling in from São Paulo today. Hi Ricardo, how are you? 

RICARDO SENNES: Hi Jason, it's a pleasure all – it's a pleasure to be back to this discussion. Thank you. 

MARCZAK: Well, it's a pleasure to have you. So let me start off. The results yesterday, I think were not a surprise for anybody who's been following Brazil recently, especially after the first round, just a few weeks ago. Our callers today know the results. Bolsonaro won 55 percent of the votes against about 45 percent for Fernando Haddad of the Workers' Party. Interesting yesterday as well, you have about 21 percent of voters that did not vote while about two percent voted blank, and about seven percent voted nule.  These are important results. 

What you also saw yesterday was the – was the Worker's Party candidate, Fernando Haddad, winning in all nine states of the Northeast of Brazil, for the PT has advantage. But Bolsonaro won in all 15 others, as well as the Federal District. Bolsonaro's win yesterday with 55 percent of the votes is an increase from the 46 percent he received in the first round. But Fernando Haddad's 44 percent was an even more sizeable increase than this – about 30 percent, 29 percent that he received in the first round. These results are not a surprise. Jair Bolsonaro throughout his campaign has campaigned as the law and order candidate. 

He has campaigned as somebody who will help Brazil to get out of the high rates of crime and violence that had been – the uptick in crime and violence that we've seen in recent years. There's a general discontent in Brazil with the corruption that pervades among the political class and the business class, as well as the weak economic growth. And Jair Bolsonaro campaigned with what the answer he sees for those issues. Most particularly violence and security and on the economy. 

Now, of course, there's a lot of concern as well on what a Jair Bolsonaro Presidency will mean. His comments throughout the campaign toward various social classes, towards women, and others were repudiated by many. But in the end, Brazilians voted for him because he provided, throughout the campaign, the answers on some of the top concerns, specifically security and the economy among others.

Roberta, you've been in Brazil monitoring disinformation over the last week as part of our joint project with the Atlantic Council of Digital Forensics Research Lab. What have you seen leading up to the election in the disinformation space? And actually on election day as well?