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Bolsonaro Win Could Strengthen Brazil-US Relations

Jair Bolsonaro waves after voting in the presidential runoff election in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Sunday, Oct. 28, 2018. (AP Photo/Silvia izquierdo)
Bolsonaro Win Could Strengthen Brazil-US Relations
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Jair Bolsonaro was elected Sunday to be the next president of Brazil. Results showed that the Social Liberal Party candidate won 55 percent of the vote over Workers’ Party candidate Fernando Haddad.

His presidency may help build stronger relationships between Brazil and the United States. U.S. President Donald Trump called to congratulate Bolsonaro on his victory Sunday night. American officials say Bolsonaro and Trump spoke of “a strong commitment to work side-by-side” on issues affecting Brazil, the United States and beyond.

Bolsonaro has been a longtime supporter and fan of Trump.

In July, Bolsonaro said of Trump, “Just like he wants to make America great, I want to make Brazil great.”

Bolsonaro ran a campaign that promised to change what he sees as a corrupt political system that has forgotten ordinary citizens. His insulting comments about gays, women and minorities have pleased his followers. They think of him as not afraid to speak the truth even when it may offend some people.

Bolsonaro told Reuters last year before his candidacy, “Trump faced the same attacks I am facing - that he was a homophobe, a fascist, a racist, a Nazi. But the people believed in his platform. I was rooting for him.”

Supporters gather outside the residence of presidential candidate Jair Bolsonaro in anticipation of his victory speech, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Sunday, Oct. 28, 2018.
Supporters gather outside the residence of presidential candidate Jair Bolsonaro in anticipation of his victory speech, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Sunday, Oct. 28, 2018.

Changes on the way

Bolsonaro has already made plans to change Brazilian foreign policy.

Following the lead of the United States, he has said he will move Brazil’s embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Similar to Trump, Bolsonaro is rethinking his country’s membership in multinational organizations and agreements. That includes the Mercosur trade group, the BRICS group of large developing economies and the Paris climate agreement.

Those changes would undo 13 years of diplomatic efforts led by the country’s Workers’ Party. Party leaders worked to build relationships with Brazil’s South American neighbors and other developing countries.

Bolsonaro is also questioning Brazil’s relationship with China. China is Brazil’s biggest foreign buyer of soybeans, iron ore and other goods. But Bolsonaro is worried by recent Chinese purchases of Brazilian energy and public service companies.

“The Chinese are not buying in Brazil. They are buying Brazil,” Bolsonaro has warned repeatedly.

Such talk is likely to please Trump. Recent U.S. taxes on Chinese goods have started a trade war between the two countries. Many people blame the U.S. for unsettling supply systems and economic markets worldwide.

Bolsonaro plans to turn a number of Brazil’s state-owned companies into private companies. He also wants to ease environmental restrictions to make room for more mining and farming.

Experts say that, like Trump, Bolsonaro was able to use voters’ fears and dissatisfaction with the government to win the presidency. Brazil now struggles with high levels of crime. In recent years, an investigation into government activities found corruption at the highest levels.

One former president is in jail and another was removed from office. And Brazil’s economy has yet to fully recover from a large recession. More than 13 million Brazilians are unemployed.

Bolsonaro will take office on January 1, 2019.

I’m Jonathan Evans.

Brad Brooks reported this story for the Reuters news service. Jonathan Evans adapted it for Learning English. Caty Weaver was the editor.


Words in This Story

commitment – n. the attitude of someone who works very hard to do or support something

gay n. a person who is homosexual

homophobe – n. a person who hates, is afraid of, and/or treats badly homosexuals (people who are sexually attracted to people of the same sex)

platform n. the official beliefs and goals of a political party or candidate

fascist n. one who believes in organizing a society in which a government ruled by a dictator controls the lives of the people and in which people are not allowed to disagree with the government in very harsh control or authority

root for v. to express or show support for a person, a team, etc.