Jair Bolsonaro’s first official visit to the US had all the drama of a Brazilian soap opera – intrigue, betrayal, family, controversy.
But viewers back home in Brazil were left divided: a disastrous interview with Fox News prompted starkly contrasting verdicts, captured in the two trending hashtags: #BolsonaroShamesBrazil (#BolsonaroEnvergonhaOBrasil) and #Bolsonaro Pride of Brazil (#BolsonaroOrgulhoDoBrasil).
Even in Washington, Bolsonaro was not able to escape the internal battles which have dogged his administration since he took office in January.
On Sunday night, former White House adviser Steve Bannon hosted a screening of a film about Bolsonaro’s ideological guru, the philosopher and conspiracy theorist Olavo de Carvalho who has clashed with members of the Brazilian government and called the vice-president, Hamilton Mourão, an “idiot”.
“I love this guy Bolsonaro, but he’s surrounded by traitors,” de Carvalho said.
On Sunday, de Carvalho and Bannon flanked Bolsonaro at an “opinion formers” dinner where the finance minister Paulo Guedes hailed De Carvalho as “the leader of the revolution”.
Guedes and Bolsonaro were applauded when they addressed investors on Monday with a free-market message.
“It was basically love at first sight. In the economic sense, obviously, I’m not homophobic,” Bolsonaro said of Guedes.
“The far-right former army captain has a long history of making comments that are antithetical to American values, especially when it comes to the LGBT community,” Fox said in introducing him.
As Maurício Santoro, a professor of international relations at the State University of Rio de Janeiro noted: “When Fox news says that Bolsonaro is extreme right, there is nowhere to run.”
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