‘I’d eat an Indian’: Linking Bolsonaro to cannibalism hits headlines
Footage of Bolsonaro's cannibalism remarks is going viral on social media and is being used as further proof of the Brazilian President's wantonness.
Brazil's presidential election took an unusual turn this week, when incumbent Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro was targeted on social media with accusations of cannibalism.
In an outrageous statement, even for a politician who has praised torturers and called for the execution of opponents, Bolsonaro swaggered to a foreign journalist in 2016: “I’d eat an Indian, no problem at all.” At the time, he recalled a trip to an Indigenous community where he was allegedly offered the opportunity to consume human flesh.
Simultaneously, Indigenous leaders have dismissed Bolsonaro's boast as yet another fabrication by Brazil's far-right president. The Yanomami people of the territory Bolsonaro claims to have visited asserted to have never committed such practice.
Meanwhile, footage of Bolsonaro's cannibalism remarks, which were first broadcasted on his official YouTube channel six years ago, has gone viral on social media and has been used as further proof of the president's wantonness.
"Bolsonaro has revealed that he would eat human flesh," a television commercial produced by Bolsonaro's leftist opponent, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, declared on Friday after the remarks were unmasked.
Lula nearly defeated Bolsonaro in the first round of Brazil's presidential election last Sunday and hopes to complete the job when 156 million Brazilians vote in the second round on October 30.
In one recent Lula ad, Bolsonaro is seen shoving a female politician and calling her a "bitch." In another scene, the rightwing President mocks Covid victims while pretending to gasp for air.
However, Friday's campaign ad was possibly the most glaring of all times.
Fábio Faria, Bolsonaro's communications minister, denounced Lula's advertisement, describing it as "fake news". He also claimed that the comments had been distorted. It is worth noting that Bolsonaro's lawyers urged that the ad be banned by electoral authorities.
“Yes, to eat”!
Nevertheless, and despite Bolsonaro's attempt at discrediting the ad, an examination of the entire 76-minute interview with New York Times journalist Simon Romero leaves no room for doubt about the nature of his comments.
Bolsonaro shifts from discussing "unsanitary" Haitian women offering sex to making claims about cannibalism allegedly taking place in the Amazon's Yanomami territory after describing the destitution he witnessed during a visit to Haiti.
“There was this time I was in Surucuru … and an Indian had died and they were cooking him. They cook Indians. It’s their culture,” Bolsonaro claimed during the interview.
“Their bodies?” the journalist replies.
“Their bodies,” Bolsonaro affirms.
“But not to eat?” the journalist questions.
“Yes, to eat,” answers Bolsonaro. “They cook it for two or three days and then eat it with banana. I wanted to see an Indian being cooked but the guy said if you go, you have to eat it. ‘I’ll eat it,’ I said. But no one else in my group wanted to go … so I didn’t go. But I’d eat an Indian, no problem at all. It’s their culture.”
Yanomami activist Junior Yanomami said as quoted by the newspaper Folha de S. Paulo: "No, my people aren't cannibals... This does not exist and has never existed, not even among our ancestors”.
Furthermore, an Indigenous leader who has just been elected to congress said in a tweet: “Bolsonaro is a compulsive liar.”
Lula denied disseminating false information. "I saw the video... "It's not an invention; we're simply informing people about our opponent," he told supporters, stressing that foreigners were now avoiding Brazil "for fear of the cannibal."
On Saturday, an electoral judge issued a preliminary ruling ordering Lula's Workers' Party (PT) to withdraw an advertisement that could harm Bolsonaro's reputation and undermine "the integrity of the electoral process."
The judge argued that Bolsonaro's comments "referred to a specific experience in an Indigenous community, lived in accordance with the values and morality that exist in this society."
Despite the preliminary ruling, social media was flooded with "Cannibal Bolsonaro" references and memes comparing the president to Hannibal Lecter and serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer. The video of Bolsonaro's announcement had been viewed millions of times.
It is worth noting that Bolsonaro, who was elected in 2018 on a wave of anti-establishment outrage, has lost support from the political center due to his combative political style, poor economic performance, rampant Amazon rainforest destruction, and the carnage of Covid-19.
Read more: 2021 Roundup: The Amazon's ongoing corporate colonization is still relevant