At Last: Brazil's Villainous New President Meets the Man in the Mirror

U.S. President Donald Trump and Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro attend a joint news conference in the Rose Garden at the White House March 19, 2019 in Washington, DC. President Trump is hosting President Bolsonaro for a visit and bilateral talks at the White House today.
U.S. President Donald Trump and Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro attend a joint news conference in the Rose Garden at the White House March 19, 2019 in Washington, DC. President Trump is hosting President Bolsonaro for a visit and bilateral talks at the White House today.
Photo: Chris Kleponis (Getty Images)

When I was at SXSW last week, outside of openly questioning how black people are expected to survive in a world devoid of cracked pepper, I had the pleasure of partaking in a live rendition of Roast Battle—the popular Comedy Central television show in which a pair of comedians dismember each other to the audience’s delight.


But on this particular evening, the stakes were heightened—as this humorous display of cruelty included a maid of honor dragging the shit out of her best friend—also known as the bride-to-be.

While such a spectacle failed to materialize on Tuesday—at least in an official capacity—as Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro exchanged friendship bracelets with White House Tenant-in-Chief, Dolt 45 , if you read between the lines, we might’ve all missed a pair of bigots completely abandon tact in a failed attempt to entertain us all.

“He has done a very outstanding job,” Trump began during an Oval Office press conference, setting up the punchline. “Somebody said it a little bit reminded people of our campaign, which I’m honored by.”


But not to be out done, Bolsonaro returned fire.

“It gives me great pleasure to be here in the United States, to take part in this visit, after decades on end of anti-U.S. presidents in Brazil,” Bolsonaro sneered with the help of a translator. “We will certainly work toward the benefit of our two nations. Just as [Trump] wants to have a ‘great’ America, I […] also want to make sure we have a great Brazil.”

Not quite as harsh, but a volley nonetheless.

For the uninitiated, Bolsonaro is a divisive, fear-mongering, homophobic fascist whose love affair with corruption is so impenitent that his Minister of Justice is the same dude who threw his rival in jail. So Al Jazeera describing him as riding a “wave of discontent over corruption, crime and economic downturn to win” his presidency sounds pretty damn accurate. Or as our Politics Editor Jason Johnson put it, “Bolsonaro is everything Trump would be if he could get away with it.”


In the immediate aftermath of his election, The Root contributor Kiratiana Freelon characterized his platform as such:

Bolsonaro campaigned on an anti-black and hard-right agenda that included impunity for police killings, rolling back affirmative action and eroding land protection laws for Quilombos and indigenous reserves. An economic recession and spiraling homicide rates have undermined confidence in mainstream politicians, so exasperated Brazilians voted for radical change.


So considering the tweetstorms, temperament, and tenor of the kleptocrat Americans elected as our 45th president, it’s not exactly a surprise that these two would become instant BFFs. Because as Think Progress points out, one white nationalist ideology deserves another, I suppose.

On his first day in office, the Brazilian president issued several executive orders, one of which prohibited new lands from being set aside for indigenous communities or “Quilombolas,” the descendants of former slaves. He also issued an order granting the Agriculture Ministry, rather than the National Indian Foundation, power to certify those indigenous territories, a move which will likely leave many uncertified regions unprotected and open to farming, logging, and mining.

Bolsonaro also took immediate action against the LGBTQ community by stripping the human rights ministry of any authority over discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. Bolsonaro has also said on several occasions that he would prefer a dead son over a gay son.

The Trump administration has similarly argued in court that discrimination against LGBTQ people should be legal, banned transgender people from serving in the military, and is considering erasing transgender people from the federal government.


“We have a great deal in common,” Bolsonaro told conservative-dumpster fire Fox News. “I have been highly criticized because of this but I will not, of course, deny what I do think.”

Of course not.

And there was also his pledge in the Rose Garden on Tuesday to “stand side-by-side [with America’s] efforts to ensure liberties in respect to traditional family lifestyle, respect to God, our creator against gender ideology or politically correct attitude and against fake news.” That was before he declared that he would be “drawing inspiration from Ronald Reagan,” whose policies and administration decimated communities of color, yet Bolsonaro fully intends to replicate that in Brazil.


So while we all might’ve mistook their acerbic banter for mutual affinity and praise, the fact remains that their vile interpretation of acclaim continues to come at our collective expense.

Menace to supremacy. Founder of Extraordinary Ideas and co-host and producer of The Extraordinary Negroes podcast. Impatiently waiting for y'all to stop putting sugar in grits.



Bolsonaro is a straight up Bond villain. The only silver lining I see is that this might finally push Brazil in the direction of liberation. Their economy has been a mess for as long as I’ve been alive and the Portuguese colonial influence has made it more racist than the neighboring countries because they’re not Hispanic while the area they settled is Latinx.