Can Bol­sonaro win Trump’s bless­ing?

The Week (US) - - News - Afonso Ben­ites

El Pais

(Spain)

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.

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