U.S. National Security Advisor John Bolton stood today in Miami’s Freedom Tower — a building famous for housing Cuban refugees fleeing political oppression — and praised the election of the neofascist wannabe dictator of Brazil, Jair Bolsonaro. Bolton, who also labeled Cuba, Nicaragua, and Venezuela the “Troika of Terror,” praised the election last week of the former Brazilian army officer who has promised to torture adversaries, resurrect the country’s former dictatorship, and murder 30,000 of his own people.
Bolton, the most right-wing member of President Trump’s lizard-filled cabinet, called Bolsonaro a “like-minded leader,” according to drafts of the speech leaked to the media.
Bolsonaro, who drew the most votes in the election this past Sunday, was long considered too insane and fringe to be a serious candidate in Brazil, but thanks to a combination of “fake news” right-wing media campaigns using WhatsApp in Brazil, a series of soft coups against left-wing leaders Dilma Rousseff and Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, and a breakdown of the general economic order propping up the Brazilian economy, Bolsonaro seemed a reasonable option to many Brazilians.
But he campaigned, quite literally, on spilling Brazilan blood. Much like Filipino strongman Rodrigo Duterte, Bolsonaro has promised to mobilize police and paramilitary squads to shoot dissidents and “criminals” on sight. He has promised to “purge” left-wing “outlaws.” In the 1990s, he repeatedly endorsed the idea of ruling Brazil through a military dictatorship. He once dedicated a legislative vote to one of the former thugs who tortured ex-President Dilma Rousseff when she was fighting the country’s then-extant dictatorship. He has repeatedly threatened to attack LGBTQ+ people and once joked he’d rather his son died in an accident than come out as gay. He also once joked that a woman was too ugly to rape. He has called Adolf Hitler a “great strategist,” threatened to kick human-rights activists out of the country, admitted to using public money to “get laid” and hit on women, and repeatedly said he plans to kill his enemies. Last, he plans to “bulldoze” Brazil’s favelas (shantytowns full of poor people trapped in dire conditions) and has said he will let logging companies cut down the Brazilian rainforest, which provides nearly a quarter of the world’s oxygen.
“I’ll give carte blanche for the police to kill,” Bolsonaro said at a 2017 event in Deerfield Beach.
Bolton just called Jair Bolsonaro a “likeminded” partner in Latin America whose election should be seen as a “positive sign”
— Jesus Rodriguez (@jesusrodriguezb) November 1, 2018
There are obvious reasons Bolton would call the new Brazilian leader a “like-minded” ally.” Bolsonaro has again and again praised Trump, and many of Bolsonaro’s cultlike supporters wore “Make America Great Again” gear during the Brazilian election cycle. Trump has already called Bolsonaro to congratulate him on his win. He has been repeatedly called the “Trump of the Tropics,” but that descriptor honestly doesn’t do the new leader justice — his rhetoric has been far more violent and antidemocratic than even Trump’s.
Bolton arrived at the Freedom Tower today to announce a series of sanctions against Cuba, Nicaragua, and Venezuela, three countries led by leftist leaders. Those nations have their own issues with political oppression and state-sponsored violence. But, to be frank, the leaders of those three nations have not come close to promising the sort of open bloodshed that Bolsonaro supports. Thus, Bolton’s new “Troika of Terror” label is obviously a hollow attempt to make Trump look tough before the midterm elections next week. (It’s also a rip-off of George W. Bush’s “axis of evil,” which included Iraq, Iran, and North Korea.) It has nothing to do with protecting actual human rights.
It would be foolish to expect anything less of Bolton, who has worked since the Reagan administration to push the United States into launching wars against just about anyone who looks at the United States in a strange way. But the idea that Bolton was allowed to stand in a publicly funded building in the heart of Miami and praise a would-be murderous dictator is nonetheless a travesty.