Bolsonaro Invites Socialist Bolivian Leader Evo Morales to Inauguration

Bolivian President Evo Morales Ayma answers questions from the press at Quemado palace in La Paz on February 24, 2016
AFP Aizar Raldes

Bolivia’s far-left President Evo Morales will attend the inauguration of Brazil’s President-elect Jair Bolsonaro, despite close Morales allies Venezuela and Cuba having their invites rescinded.

Morales, who has led an increasingly autocratic regime in Bolivia since 2006, is expected to be present at Tuesday’s inauguration, despite his strong ideological differences with the incoming leader. Morales forged close ties with Brazil’s former socialist leaders Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva and Dilma Rousseff and remains one of the few allies left in the region to Venezuelan dictator Nicolás Maduro and the Cuban communist regime.

Bolivia is one of Brazil’s closest neighbors; the two nations share a 2127-mile-long border and a strong trade relationship. As noted by the Financial Times, next year will require both parties to agree on a new deal on Bolivia’s sale of natural gas, the country’s most important foreign export.

Chinese Communist Party officials will also be present at the inauguration, despite Bolsonaro’s supposed hostility towards Bejing’s growing influence in Brazil. During his election campaign, Bolsonaro accused China of trying to “buy Brazil,” adding that his administration would “not hand our territory over to anybody.”

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying played down those remarks last week, arguing that closer ties had become the “widespread consensus” of people in both countries and confirming that a “special envoy” would attend the ceremony to represent Chinese leader Xi Jinping.

“In recent years, China-Brazil relations have been growing rapidly in an all-round manner as evidenced by fruitful outcomes in practical cooperation across the board,” Hua explained. “Developing China-Brazil ties has become the widespread consensus of people in all sectors in our two countries.”

Weeks before the invitations to leftist states went out, Bolsonaro had pledged to help embolden anti-communist movements, around the world, declaring that Brazil has an “obligation” to push back against regimes in Cuba, Venezuela, Bolivia, and elsewhere.

This month, Bolsonaro revealed that dictators in both Cuba and Venezuela would not be invited to his inaugural, later adding Nicaragua to that list.

“Obviously, regimes that violate the freedoms of their peoples and act openly against the future government of Brazil because of ideological affiliation with the group defeated in the elections will not be in the presidential inauguration in 2019,” Bolsonaro wrote at the time. “We defend and truly respect democracy.”

Other leaders to attend Bolsonaro’s inauguration will include U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Israeli and Hungarian Prime Ministers Benjamin Netanyahu and Viktor Orbán. His term in office will begin January 1st, 2019, and, barring unforeseen circumstances, will last for four years.

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