Brazil’s Jair Bolsonaro left no question as he headed to the White House on Tuesday to the reasons why he’s referred to internationally as the ‘Trump of the Tropics,’ pushing a socialism-busting, anti-immigration message on the president’s favorite news network.
‘The best majority of potential immigrants do not have good intentions or do not intend to do the best or do good to the U.S. people,’ he declared on Fox News.
He warned that Trump is right about socialist tendencies that threaten to erode democracies worldwide.
‘I see President Trump fighting that trend and I couldn’t agree more with him. I think he’s right. And to a certain extent, we are doing very much the same thing in Brazil,’ he said.
Brazil’s Jair Bolsonaro left no question as he headed to the White House on Tuesday on reason he’s referred to internationally as the ‘Trump of the Tropics,’ pushing a socialism-busting, anti-immigration message on the president’s favorite news network
Bolsonaro is a self-styled Trump populist. He embraced Trump’s campaign tactics, taking swings at immigrants, multi-national organizations, government bureaucracy and the media.
He has denounced media as ‘fake news,’ following in the footsteps of the U.S. president, who was busy bashing the media as ‘dishonest and corrupt’ on Tuesday morning on Twitter in advance of a joint news conference at the White House.
The leaders will take questions from reporters from both their nations after a working luncheon. It is tradition for U.S. leaders to hold news conferences with visiting heads of state, although Trump has not always offered the opportunity to heads of state, and Tuesday’s news conference is the first one with a foreign leader he’s held this year.
Bolsonaro isn’t getting the grand welcome to the White House that France’s Emmanuel Macon received last spring, when Trump held his first and only State Dinner in honor of the leader he formed an unlikely bond with during their first months in office.
Still, the U.S. signaled on Monday that Bolsonaro, who an official described as ‘unabashedly pro-American’ holds a special place on Trump’s dance card.
‘Obviously, there’s great synergy there and there’s a great mutual respect,’ the White House official said Monday, previewing Bolsonaro’s visit.
Bolsanaro returned the praise in a Fox News interview, in which he was asked about his unyielding support for Trump.
‘Just like he wants to make America great, I want to make Brazil great,’ Bolsonaro said as a candidate, in one of his many affectations that mimicked Trump.
Bolsonaro denounced media as ‘fake news,’ following in the footsteps of the U.S. president, who was busy bashing the media as ‘dishonest and corrupt’ on Tuesday morning on Twitter in advance of a joint news conference at the White House.
Bolsonaro is a self-styled Trump populist. He embraced Trump’s campaign tactics, taking swings at immigrants, multi-national organizations and the media
Handout picture released by the Brazilian Presidency showing Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro (2-R) standing next to US President Donald Trump’s former strategist Stephen Bannon (R) during a meeting with members of his delegation and right-wing influencers, including Matt Schlapp (2-L) at the Brazil embassy on Monday afternoon
He likewise claimed as he came under fire for controversial comments about varying demographic groups, ‘Trump faced the same attacks I am facing – that he was a homophobe, a fascist, a racist, a Nazi.’
Appearing on Fox, he called the slams ‘fake news’ and praised the rise of social media as a way to bypass traditional news sources.
‘If it were all that, I would not at all have been elected president. So, there’s a great deal of fake news certainly around the Brazilian population, has after all learned how to do use social media. And they no longer trust or believe the Brazilian mainstream media which is virtually dominated by the left-wing,’ he said.
He added, ‘I have nothing against homosexuals or women. I’m not a xenophobe. But I want to have my house in order. The definition of a family, in my view is one and the same. As defined in the Bible, if you engage in, say, a same-sex relationship, you can go ahead and do it, but we cannot allow the government to bring these intents to the classroom setting and teach schoolchildren in the likes of age five.’
Bolsonaro contended that he has been ‘highly criticized’ over his praise for Trump.
He said of his American counterpart, ‘You know, we do have a great deal in common as I perceived things from Brazil. I have always admired him.
‘I will not deny that,’ he argued. ‘And what I want to ensure is that Brazil will be a great nation, just as Trump wants America to be great again.’
Brazil’s Foreign Minister Ernesto Araujo (R) and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo arrive for a joint press conference at Itamaraty Palace in Brasilia on January 2 – a day after Bolsonaro’s inauguration
The feeling is mutual. After Bolsonaro promised in his inaugural speech to ‘work tirelessly so that Brazil reaches its destiny,’ after campaigning on the slogan ‘Brazil before everything, and God above all,’ Trump hailed the remarks.
He said the inaugural speech was ‘great’ and told him ‘the U.S.A. is with you!’ in a tweet.
Bolsonaro told him in a reply, as the two conducted international diplomacy over social media: ‘I truly appreciate your words of encouragement. Together, under God’s protection, we shall bring prosperity and progress to our people!’
The White House signaled Monday that Trump was flattered by Bolsanaro’s repeated references to him during the campaign and intends to welcome him to the White House with open arms.
‘President Trump has followed President Bolsonaro’s campaign. Obviously, his name was invoked on many occasions during the campaign, and all of you in the broader media have referred to him as the “Trump of the Tropics.” That obviously has caught the President’s attention,’ the person said.
In Bolsonaro, he seems himself, the person indicated. ‘He broke all of what I would say were the historic taboos of winning an election in Latin America.
‘He ran on the campaign that he wanted to be the best friend to the United States, that he wanted to have this close relationship with President Trump and what that would mean for Brazil, what that would mean for the region and the world. I think that was very important,’ the official said.
The last Brazilian president to visit the U.S. was Dilma Rousseff in 2015, in the final term of Barack Obama, making up for a visit that had been called off in the wake of revelations that the U.S. had spied on her.
Obama took her to see the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial on the National Mall near the White House as he attempted to thin the scarring that remained over Edward Snowden’s disclosure that the U.S. was spying on its allies.
U.S. National Security Advisor John Bolton stopped to tell press how enthusiastic the White House is about Bolsonaro’s visit after a television interview on Tuesday morning.
‘We’re very much looking forward to the visit of President Bolsonaro is Brazil. This is a potentially historic opportunity to redirect relations between our two countries, the two largest democracies in the Western Hemisphere,’ he said. ‘I think it will have a profound impact not just in this hemisphere, but really around the world.’
Trump sent his national security adviser to the Rio de Janerio for talks with the fledgling government, and his secretary of state led a delegation of U.S. officials to the capital for Bolsonaro’s inauguration.
‘Clearly, we have seen, since day one, President Bolsonaro’s election as a real opportunity to fundamentally remake our relationship with Brazil,’ a senior Trump administration official told reporters on Monday.
Trump’s Washington is his first visit to a foreign nation for a bilateral meeting. ‘And that’s very meaningful to us, as clearly it is to them,’ the U.S. official said.
Bolsonaro heads to Israel at the end of the month to reaffirm his nation’s ties with the Middle Eastern country.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited Brazil for Bolsanaro’s Jan. 1 inauguration, when he said, according to the PM, that it was a matter of ‘when, not if’ he would relocate the embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
Bolsonaro’s administration has since walked back the promise and may not reveal its decision until his visit to Israel at the end of this month. Trade with Arab nations who oppose the move is said to be a major consideration, as the nation is among the top halal meat exporters.
Trump could in turn name Brazil a major non-NATO ally, which would give Brazil a boost in trade with the U.S. It is already one of the biggest traders with the United States in the world, second only to China.
The U.S. has a trade surplus of $27 billion with Brazil, and it’s one area in which Trump has signaled that he and Bolsonaro could break on.
‘They charge us whatever they want,’ he said of tariffs the country puts on U.S. good. ‘If you ask some of the companies, they say Brazil is among the toughest in the world – maybe the toughest in the world.’
The U.S. suggested that it would follow through on ‘the execution of a lot of what has been discussed and agreed to in a historically short time’ on trade in today’s talks.
‘Here we have, now, a government in Brazil that [we] consider an ally. And, as such, we’ll be working together — have been working together — on regional issues, like Venezuela, and look forward to working together on international issues, on non-regional issues like Iran, China, North Korea, and others,’ the person said.
The refusal of Venezuelan leader Nicolás Maduro, whom the U.S. and Brazil have dubbed a dictator and want to renounce the presidency, will be a top topic. The U.S. has left the door open to military intervention but has not deployed troops to the region.
‘Venezuela will absolutely be a subject of discussion,’ a senior official said. ‘Clearly, President Bolsonaro and President Trump share a strong support for Venezuelan Interim President Juan Guaidó. Brazil has allowed the United States to pre-position humanitarian aid for Venezuela on Brazil’s northern border. And obviously, we’re very grateful to that.’
Brazil has welcomed 120,000 refugees from Venezuela amid the turmoil.
‘So they’re suffering the firsthand consequences on that,’ the person said.