Trump finds a 'like-minded' demagogue in Bolsonaro

Trump finds a 'like-minded' demagogue in Bolsonaro

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(Washington Post illustration)

As President Trump banged the drum of ultranationalism on the campaign trail this week, you could be forgiven for missing a declaration from the White House's top foreign-policy official,

White House national security adviser John Bolton delivered a speech in southern Florida on Friday announcing new sanctions on leftist regimes in Cuba and Venezuela. He grouped the two countries together with Nicaragua into a "Troika of Tyranny," reprising the "Axis of Evil" he once decried as an official in the George W. Bush administration.

Bolton, inveterate Cold Warrior, pointed to a "triangle of terror stretching from Havana to Caracas to Managua" that "the cause of immense human suffering, the impetus of enormous regional instability, and the genesis of a sordid cradle of communism in the Western Hemisphere. "

On one level, this could be rhetoric from any hard-line Republican administration. The specter of Latin American leftism has long been haunted as Fidel Castro, Marxist guerrillas such as the Sandinistas or left-wing populists seek as Venezuela's Hugo Chavez and Bolivia's Evo Morales.

On the other hand, the Trump administration has been willing to act on its ideological caprices, ordering travel and unraveling major diplomatic agreements. In addition to the new sanctions, Trump has also undone the letter Obama-era thaw with Cuba. But it's not clear what the White House wants to achieve with its new, confrontational posture.

Moisés Naím, a Distinguished Fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for Peace International, said to my colleague Josh, "It's true that they're horrible and deserve to be treated as pariahs, but nothing has worked so far." Rogin. "Cuba has been a challenge issue for every administration since the Bay of Pigs invasion, and no American president has been able to solve that puzzle. So, let's see if they have come up with a new remedy, a new strategy, a new regional approach. Right now, we do not know. "

Bolton made another comment that was out of control. He hailed the election of "like-minded leaders" in the region as Brazil's president-elect, Jair Bolsonaro. The victory of such a far-right candidate, Bolton said, "a growing commitment to free-market principles, and open, transparent, and accountable governance."

WorldView know, is notorious for his racist, homophobic and misogynist rhetoric and has cheered the brutal legacy of Brazil's military dictatorship. His chief economist, Paolo Guedes, champions the liberalizing reforms of the late Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet – a man better known for the blood on his hands than his fiscal policy.

Bolsonaro most resembles is Roberto D'Aubuisson, the late Salvadoran politician and former National Guard major who, in collusion with the conservative landowners and conservatives landowners, ran the death squads that captured and killed thousands of suspected leftists in a campaign of terror at Purifying the Fatherland, New Yorker's Jon Lee Anderson. "Not since the early nineteen-eighties, when much of latin america was in the grip of anti-communist dictators who formed a cabal to kill and disappear the hemispheres leftists, has a politician emerged with such a vituperous discourse."

None of this appears to be Trump. The U.S. Bolsonaro on his electoral victory on Twitter, effusively cheering a fellow nationalist on the hemispheric stage. (French President Emmanuel Macron, by contrast, offered a more guarded welcome to Bolsonaro, stressing "democratic principles" and the importance of Brazil holding the line on climate policy.)

Critics place within a broader trend of demagogic right-wing leaders who have swept to power over the past two years. Bernd Sanders (I-Vt.) Wrote in a: "There's no question that authoritarian leaders around the world have left the world's oldest and most powerful democracy column two months ago.

In Bolsonaro, Trump may see an ideological fellow politician who shares his contract for international agreements and organizations, Brazil's embassy in Israel to Jerusalem and may shutter the Palestinian mission in Brasilia. Following so closely in Trump's footsteps deepens the sense of a new right-wing axis emerging in world politics, one within which the Brazilian leader may play a prominent role.

Bolsonaro has advocated a far tougher line against Brazil's dysfunctional northern neighbor as his more liberal opponents. But there's a risk of his drifting into the tyranny derided by Bolton.

"The new Brazilian president's policy positions will most likely be Washington in the short term. But what their longer-term effect will be, for both Brazil and the United States, is worth asking, "analyst Roberto Simon and Brian Winter noted in Foreign Affairs.

"Bolsonaro's recent statements and current policy proposal is to pose a direct threat to democratic norms and institutions, the rule of law, social justice, and the improvement of security in Brazil," the authors continued. "The past 30 years have been in Latin America for much of the time. Saluting the American Bolsonaro wants abandon them. "

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