Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro ended his remarks at the United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday with the declaration that Brazil “is a Christian and conservative country” and urging the world to fight “Christophobia.”
Bolsonaro opened the General Assembly’s annual general debate, a tradition honoring Brazil volunteering to begin the first-ever general debate in the aftermath of World War II. This year, in light of the Chinese coronavirus pandemic, world leaders did not travel to New York for the event, instead addressing the world from their respective countries.
“Liberty is humankind’s greatest asset. I call upon the entire international community to protect religious liberty and fight against Christophobia,” Bolsonaro asserted during his speech. The president, among the most high-profile conservative Christian leaders in the world, did not elaborate on what he sought from fellow U.N. member states, but his comment was made in the context of developments in the Middle East, and so likely was a reference to the escalating rates of anti-Christian violence and Christian persecution in majority-Muslim nations.
In the context of the Middle East, Bolsonaro sent a message of solidarity to Lebanon, where an explosion resulted in the widespread destruction of the nation’s capital in August; Brazil has a sizable population of Lebanese-Brazilians, including Bolonaro’s predecessor, the former president Michel Temer. Bolsonaro then applauded President Donald Trump for helping broker peace deals between Israel and its Arab neighbors, establishing “new and more optimistic horizons for the future of the Middle East.”
“The peace agreemnts between Israel and the United Arab Emirates, and Israel and Bahrain – three friends of Brazil – … are excellent news,” Bolsonaro said. “Brazil also welcomes the plan for peace and prosperity recently launched by President Donald Trump, which features a promising vision to resume the path towards a much-desired solution to the Israel-Palestinian conflict after more than seven decades of Israel.”
In his extended remarks, Bolsonaro also addressed at length two issues for which he has received significant international condemnation from the left: the protection of the Amazon Rain Forest and his handling of the Chinese coronavirus pandemic. Bolsonaro has referred to the virus as a “little cold” and vocally opposed shutting down the nation’s economy, though Brazil’s federal system grants that power to local governors.
“From the very beginning in my country, I warned that we had two problems to solve, the virus and joblessness, and that both issues had to be addressed simultaneously and with the same sense of responsibility,” Bolsonaro said. He noted that “hospitals did not lack the means to treat COVID [Chinese coronavirus] patients” but struggled to acquire some medicines, a sign the world should diversify manufacturing.
Without mentioning China, the world’s foremost producer of most basic healthcare products, Bolsonaro asserted, “the pandemic teaches us a major lesson – that we cannot possibly depend on just a few nations for the production of essential inputs and means for our survival.”
Bolsonaro campaigned on limiting Brazil’s ties to the communist rogue state – greatly enhanced under the three previous left-wing presidents – but has since traveled to Beijing and befriended dictator Xi Jinping.
Bolsonaro also took a moment to condemn Brazil’s media for “spreading panic among the population.”
“Under the mottos ‘stay home’ and ‘we will take care of the economy later on,’ they almost brought about social chaos,” Bolsonaro said, arguing that only effective government action prevented the media from causing a disaster.
Bolsonaro also condemned the media regarding accusations against him of insufficiently protecting the Brazilian environment.
“We are victims of a most brutal disinformation campaign about the Amazon and the Brazilian wetlands. The Brazilian Amazon is known to be extremely rich,” Bolsonaro said, “That explains the support given by international institutions to this disinformation campaign anchored on shady interests coupled with exploitative and unpatriotic Brazilian associations with the purpose of hurting the government and Brazil itself.”
Bolsonaro has previously accused environmental groups of starting fires in the Amazon to defame him and profit from activism against the fires.
“Maybe — I am not affirming it — these (NGOs) are carrying out some criminal actions to draw attention against me, against the government of Brazil. This is the war we are facing,” Bolsonaro said last year.
During Tuesday’s speech, Bolsonaro compared issues with fires in Brazil to those in California and affirmed, “I stand by my zero-tolerance policy towards environmental crime.” He also noted that, despite its large size both geographically and economically, Brazil accounts for only three percent of the world’s carbon emissions.
Bolsonaro also took a moment to condemn the socialist regime in Venezuela for its environmental destruction, particularly an oil leak that has “resulted in serious damage to the environment” in Brazil. Under socialist dictator Nicolás Maduro, Venezuela’s state-run oil company, Petróleos de Venezuela (PDVSA), has largely allowed its facilities to decay and grossly mismanaged the nation’s oil reserves, resulting in an inability to refine oil and several oil spills.
“Peace cannot possibnly be disassociated from security,” Bolsonaro stated more generally to the United Nations. “Cooperation among people cannot possibly be disassociated from freedom.”
“Brazil is a Christian and conservative country and has family as its foundation,” Bolsonaro concluded.