Rodrigo “Rudy” Duterte, President of the Philippines; self-confessed mass murderer.
Duterte built his rep as an “outsider” fighting the status quo, tapping into anger over the poverty, drugs, crime and corruption plaguing the Philippines. His method was to cover over the roots of these problems in the imperialist-dominated social-economic system, demagogically rail against the “elites”... and then ally with those elites to scapegoat the victims of the system, those driven by desperation to use or to sell drugs. Duterte targeted them as the source of society’s problems and made them the focus of popular hatred.
Duterte ran for president promising to kill 30,000 drug users and dealers; he was elected with 39% of the vote. During seven months in power, he has unleashed a reign of terror in the vast slums of Manila and other cities. Every night police kick down doors, kill people in front of their families, and drag their bodies into the streets with “drug dealer” signs hung on them. Most of these people are desperately poor drug users, very small-time sellers, or are completely innocent. In addition, vigilantes now roam the slums on motorcycles gunning down “suspects.” Already at least 7,000 have been murdered in police and vigilante killings, so many that bodies are stacking up in funeral homes as the poor scrape together money to bury their loved ones.
A Filipino human-rights activist told the LA Times that “The thing to keep in mind is that there’s nothing right now that [Duterte] cannot do,” because the other branches of government back him. “He’s pretty much given a blank check ...” But Duterte has also made clear that should opposition emerge from the judiciary or any other quarter, he will declare martial law in the nation, suspending all democratic rights. Duterte warns, “do not create a constitutional confrontation. We will all lose.”
Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, President of Turkey, fascist thug, Islamic fundamentalist.
Like the alt-right and Christian fascists grouped around Trump, Erdoğan has worked for decades to bring his vision—of a fascist Turkish state assuming its “proper place” among the other “great [imperialist] powers,” held together by rabid Turkish nationalism and Islamic fundamentalism—into being. In 2016, competing ruling class forces staged a military coup that failed. Erdoğan responded with ever-growing waves of repression going far beyond the coup-plotters or even their sympathizers. In the weeks after, 50,000 people were arrested or fired, including 10,000 military personnel, 2,700 prosecutors and judges, 1,500 university deans and 15,000 other educators. 130 media outlets—radio and TV stations, news services, magazines and newspapers—were shut down, with at least one major newspaper put under state control.
In the months that followed, Erdoğan ended a truce with Kurdish rebels and launched major military assaults on the Kurdish region, placing many Kurdish towns under brutal siege and killing thousands.
And on December 30, a constitutional amendment to abolish the post of Prime Minister—a position that shares and competes with President Erdoğan for control of executive power—cleared committee to be voted in the parliament, opening the way for a major centralization of authority in Erdoğan’s hands.