Can Bolsonaro win Trump’s blessing?
Brazil’s version of Donald Trump is trying to ingratiate himself with the real thing, said Afonso Benites. President-elect Jair Bolsonaro—the brash right-wing populist who denigrates blacks, women, and gays—wants to become the U.S. president’s “main ally in South America” when he takes office in January. That would be quite a turnaround for Brazil. Colombia and Argentina have long been the U.S.’s primary partners in the region, while Brazil, ruled by the leftist Workers’ Party for most of the 21st century, was seen as unreliable. Competing interests, especially in foreign trade and industry, have kept Brazil and the U.S. apart. But Bolsonaro is hard at work on the transforma-
tion, starting with foreign policy. He’s already “copying Trump” by pledging to reduce China’s economic influence in his country and by promising closer relations with Israel—he says he’ll also move the Brazilian Embassy there from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Bolsonaro is a climate-change denier, like Trump, and has threatened pull Brazil out of the Paris climate agreement and to open the rain forests to logging and mining. A meeting last week with Trump’s national security adviser, John Bolton, raised the incoming administration’s hopes that Trump might attend Bolsonaro’s inauguration. That would be a historic first—and a sign that Trumpism has conquered Brazil.