How Venezuelan migration played a leading role in Brazil’s 2022 elections

Article by Dr. Amanda Alencar (ESHCC), Denise Cogo and Julia Camargo

Dr. Amanda Paz Alencar, Associate Professor in the Media & Communication department of Erasmus School of History, Culture and Communication (ESHCC), published an article in co-authorship with Denise Cogo and Julia Camargo on the role of Venezuelan migration in the Brazilian elections. In the article, they explain the shift in Bolsonaro’s government from the “fear of immigrants” to the threat represented by the immigrants’ country of origin – Venezuela – and its ruling regime.

The appearance of migration in electoral campaigns is not something new. It is happening in different countries all over the world; through racist, xenophobic, and nationalist discourses against immigration. “In Europe, the United States, and, more recently, Latin America, far-right political parties have widely used these discourses to mobilise emotions and instill fear among voters”, according to the authors.

From anti-immigration to anti-Venezuelan rhetoric

Far-right politicians often use migration for political gain. However, the 2022 elections in Brazil showed a different discursive strategy from the far-right represented by Jair Bolsonaro. “Between 2016 and 2020, around 261,000 Venezuelan migrants arrived in Brazil, according to data from the Interinstitutional Coordination Platform for Refugees and Migrants. Most of them are recognised as refugees, due to the reception policies implemented by the Bolsonaro government”, explain the authors. Recent Venezuelan migration in the country, however, did not fuel anti-immigration discourses. Instead, the government and its allies used Venezuelan migrants to disseminate an anti-Venezuelan rhetoric.

“Brazil will become Venezuela”

The authors argue that by shifting from fear of the immigrant to the threat represented by his country of origin and its ruling regime, this anti-Venezuela rhetoric served for the far-right to warn about the risk of implantation of socialism and/or communism supposedly represented by Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. Bolsonaro used the slogan “Brazil will become Venezuela” in his electoral campaign on different social networks and WhatsApp and Telegram groups of Venezuelan immigrants, to fuel this narrative.  

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This article (news story) was also published by other major national newspapers in Brazil, Venezuelan, Colombia and Cuba:

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