Jair Bolsonaro, the far right candidate leading the polls to become the next president of Brazil, made his first reference to Argentina yesterday. And predictably, and in line with most of his public statements, it was controversial: “First and foremost, I want to send a big hug to Macri, who put a stop to ‘Dilma Kirchner,'” he said in a press conference held in Río de Janeiro yesterday, purposely replacing Cristina Kirchner’s name with ‘Dilma’ to compare her to ousted Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff, who was impeached in 2016.
By equating former President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner with Dilma Rousseff, Bolsonaro was illustrating his contempt for the former Argentine president: when voting for Rousseff’s impeachment and consequent ousting in 2016, Bolsonaro – then a national deputy – expressly dedicated his vote to a member of the last Brazilian dictatorship who had in fact tortured Rousseff.
Neither the Argentine government nor Macri have talked with and about Bolsonaro and Haddad, the candidates who will compete in the Brazilian runoff that will take place on October 28. The only official statement so far was issued by the Foreign Ministry, following last Sunday’s first round elections.
The Macri administration congratulated the Brazilian government and its people for them – “it reaffirms the strength of democratic institutions” – and indicated it awaits for the outcome of the runoff to “continue working, along with whoever gets elected that day, on the shared goal of deepening the process of integration and the common projects that unite us.”
The Argentine government has avoided taking sides on the elections of its largest trading partner, the only information being contrasting reports from different media outlets. Some assured the Macri administration would rather work with Haddad, others with Bolsonaro.
Bolsonaro also assured during the press conference that he will “strengthen the Mercosur” trading bloc if he becomes president. “I will not abandon the Mercosur, but it will not be guided by ideological matters like it did under the PT,” Bolsonaro said.
“We have the willingness to negotiate with our Latin American brothers, but not in the way the PT had been doing, prioritizing the ideological aspect. We want a South America where all countries are independent, of course, but united for the common good. We will do business with the entire world,” ended Bolsonaro, who in the same event assured he is an admirer of US President Donald Trump.
Having got 46.7 percent of the vote in the first round, Bolsonaro is the big favorite to win the Brazilian runoff, considering the PT’s Fernando Haddad lagged far behind with 29.3 percent of the vote.