The Tropical Trump? Bolsonaro Follows Closely The US President's Style

The Brazilian president-elect seeks access to Trump through flattery and contacts with people in the US president's inner circle

Rodrigo Borges Delfim
São Paulo

A while back, a street art showing a kiss between president-elect Jair Bolsonaro and the US president Donald Trump appeared on a wall in the outskirts of Fortaleza, Ceará. It was quickly painted over, but it wasn’t random; Bolsonaro is a self-professed fan of Trump’s antics and he has been trying to bring his future administration closer to the White House.

So far, the Brazilian president’s tactics consist in flattering Trump and meeting with people from the American president's inner circle — like the National Security Advisor John Bolton, who stopped in Rio de Janeiro on his way to the G20 meeting in Buenos Aires to have breakfast with Bolsonaro, a few weeks ago.

A Ceará mural depicting Jair Bolsonaro and Donald Trump kissing was quickly painted over - Social Media

See comparisons between the two:

Outsiders in the political ecosystem

Trump: A businessman and TV personality, Trump never held any kind of political office until he ran for the Republic primaries in 2016.

Bolsonaro: Although he has held a representative seat since 1990, Bolsonaro never worked in the Executive branch or presided any commissions in the Brazilian Lower House.

Contempt for traditional politics

Trump: He has a reputation for “telling like it is” and for not caring about political correctness.

Bolsonaro: During his confirmation ceremony, he said: “the popular power doesn’t require intermediaries any more.”

A turbulent relationship with the press

Trump: The US president has referred to the press as “enemy of the people” and harasses journalists who aren’t sympathetic to him.

Bolsonaro: He criticizes news outlets like Folha and Rede Globo and gives preferences to conservative media when giving interviews.

Intense use of social media

Trump: He uses his own personal Twitter account more than the official White House profile.

Bolsonaro: The president-elect relied heavily on social media during his campaign and announces his cabinet appointments on Twitter.

Family involvement

Trump: His son Donald Trump Jr. had active participation in the presidential campaign, including meetings with Russian nationals.

Bolsonaro: Three of his five children hold legislative seats and have their father's ear on decisions regarding cabinet appointments, foreign policy, and social media. One of them, Eduardo, is in contact with officials from the Trump administration.

Trouble since the transition

Trump: The US president and his family are involved in an active investigation about a supposed involvement of Russian agents to influence the 2016 presidential campaign on Trump's favor.

Bolsonaro: A friend of Bolsonaro, who worked as his son Flávio's cabinet aide, made suspicious money withdrawals, according to a government report. One of them, destined to the first lady Michelle Bolsonaro, is omitted from the president-elect's income tax filings.

Defense of gun ownership

Trump: He is a declared advocate for allowing common citizens to carry weapons and has said that the freedom to do so "is a gift from God."

Bolsonaro: He has spoken against Brazil's gun control law, and has said that the right to carry guns ensures citizens the right of defending "themselves, their families, their property and others."


Trump: The US president announced he will move the American embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, despite the objections of international leaders.

Bolsonaro: Bolsonaro followed Trump by announcing that Brazil would also move its embassy to Jerusalem, with applause from the Brazilian president's evangelical base. But the reaction from Middle Eastern countries, an important market for Brazil's exports, made Bolsonaro hesitate to confirm the move.

Climate change skepticism

Trump: He claims he doesn't believe that human activity is increasing the planet's temperatures and disregards scientific reports that point out for disastrous consequences of climate change in the US economy. He also withdrew the United States from the Paris Deal.

Bolsonaro: He claims to believe in climate change, but he also points out that other countries fail to protect their own forests. He thinks that environmental nonprofits threaten Brazil's sovereignty.

Contempt for multilateralism

Trump: He defends nationalism, attacks multilateral organizations like the United Nations and threatens even American allies.

Bolsonaro: The president-elect has publicly criticized the UN and is against immigration.

Translated by NATASHA MADOV

Read the article in the original language​​