Today, Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro will visit the White House for the first time. Bolsonaro is a right-wing firebrand whose unlikely rise, disparaging views on minorities, shrewd use of social media, and combative relationship with the press have led some to call him the "Tropical Trump."
To learn more, we sat down with Roberto Simon, a veteran Brazilian journalist who is now Senior Director of Policy at the Council of the Americas, and politics editor at Americas Quarterlythe Council's (excellent) magazine on Latin America.
You can watch the whole interview by clicking here. But here are a few highlights to keep in mind ahead of today's meeting:
Bolsonaro's visit to the White House aims to accomplish a few things: First, to bolster his street credibility with his right-wing base at home, who admire Trump; second, to draw closer to Trump on a way to resolve the crisis in Venezuela, which has caused a politically volatile situation on the Brazilian border; and third, to secure closer military ties with Washington.
Like Trump, Bolsonaro was an outsider candidate with sharply anti-progressive views who defied the pundits by winning. But there are big differences too. For one thing, Bolsonaro counts on a small party in a fractious legislature – he has nothing like the support of the Republican party that Trump enjoys in the Senate. What's more, Trump-style anti-globalization rhetoric doesn't play nearly as well in a country where globalization has lifted tens of millions out of poverty. Here are some more thoughts from us on the differences between the two men.
And lastly, the context for that famous Bolsonaro's "golden shower" tweet is a raging culture war between the right and left in Brazil that threatens to overshadow key economic priorities like reforming the country's unsustainable pension system.