Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro threatened military action against the United States on Tuesday in response to presidential contender Joe Biden threatening to tank the Brazilian economy during his first debate with President Donald Trump.
Bolsonaro was speaking at an event to promote tourism and kick-start the economy after months of localized anti-coronavirus lockdowns in the nation’s biggest states. The president, a conservative and ally of Trump’s, has repeatedly warned that developed countries have an interest in colonizing Brazil and exploiting its resource. Bolsonaro made that argument in particular in response to Biden’s diatribe in which he threatened to destroy Brazil’s economy if Bolsonaro did not accept a $20 billion payment from a hypothetical Biden administration to be used for environmentalist policies.
Bolsonaro also lamented on Tuesday that the Chinese coronavirus had turned Brazil into “a country of maricas,” a term that roughly translates to “sissies” in Portuguese but in other Latin-based languages like Spanish is considered a slur against gay men.
Bolsonaro did not mention Biden in his threat to use “gunpowder” against threatening nations, but his description of the unnamed “candidate to head of state” does not match anyone in any other developing country.
“There was recently a great candidate to head of state who said that if I don’t shut down the Amazon fires he is going to put up commercial barriers,” Bolsonaro said. “How are we going to face that? Diplomacy alone is not enough. When the saliva runs out, you need gunpowder, otherwise it doesn’t work. We have the gunpower. They need to know we have it. That’s the world.”
“Nobody has what we have in mineral riches, biodiversity, agricultural fields. We have tourism areas, too, it’s a fortune,” Bolsonaro continued. “We have to strengthen us, and how do we strengthen? Liberating the economy, a free market.”
Biden did threaten to destroy the Brazilian economy in September, during a debate with Trump in which the moderator did not ask any questions about international issues or foreign policy.
“Brazil, the rainforests of Brazil are being torn down, are being ripped down. More carbon is absorbed in that rainforest than every bit of carbon that’s emitted in the United States,” Biden said at the time. “Instead of doing something about that, I would be gathering up and making sure we had the countries of the world coming up with $20 billion, and say, ‘Here’s $20 billion. Stop, stop tearing down the forest. And if you don’t, then you’re going to have significant economic consequences.’”
Biden appeared to be repeating claims spread by Hollywood celebrities and leftist groups that the annual fires in the Amazon Rainforest had worsened under Bolsonaro. In August 2019, Agence France-Presse (AFP) revealed that a photo influencers and celebrities, including French President Emmanuel Macron, were sharing on social media to condemn Bolsonaro for the allegedly devastating fires was taken by a photographer who died in 2003, so the photo could not have been from Bolsonaro’s term in office, which began in 2019.
Biden did not explain how he arrived at the $20 billion figure for saving the rainforest.
Bolsonaro, whose nation had suffered significant economic consequences from the Chinese coronavirus, reacted to Biden’s threat with outrage.
“The Democratic candidate to the US presidency, Joe Biden, stated yesterday that he could pay us as much as US$20 billion to stop the ‘destruction’ of the Amazon Rainforest adding that, if we did not accept this offer, he would then impose serious economic sanctions on our country,” Bolsonaro wrote in a statement published the next day. “What some have not yet understood is that Brazil has changed. Its President, unlike the left-wing presidents of the past, does not accept bribes, criminal land demarcations, or coward threats towards our territorial and economic integrity. OUR SOVEREIGNTY IS NON-NEGOTIABLE.”
Joe Biden is already sparking international turmoil and tension. Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro issued an outraged statement Wednesday morning in response to Democrat presidential candidate Joe Biden. https://t.co/KzYNhzOMAk
— Breitbart News (@BreitbartNews) October 1, 2020
The president appeared to be referring to his socialist predecessors. Dilma Rousseff, the last elected president before Bolsonaro, was impeached out of office for alleged financial improprieties. Her mentor and predecessor Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva was convicted of taking over $1 million in bribes used to purchase a luxury beachfront property. Biden’s former boss Barack Obama was a close ally of Lula’s.
“As the head of state who has brought Brazil-US relations closer than ever before, after decades of governments that were unfriendly towards the US, it is really difficult to understand such a disastrous and unnecessary declaration,” Bolsonaro concluded in his statement. “What a shame, Mr. John [sic] Biden, what a shame!”
Bolsonaro has openly expressed support for Trump in the 2020 American election, stating that he would wait until Trump exhausted his legal options in defying questionable vote counts in some states before issuing a statement congratulating him or Biden.
“It seems like the business over there is going to the courts, one state or another. Let’s wait a little bit. … Hope is the last thing to die,” Bolsonaro said last week. He also rejected reports citing unnamed sources that claimed he was trying to privately reach out to the Biden campaign.
Brazil is a key American trading partner. America has a larger trade surplus with Brazil than any other country in the world except for the Netherlands, according to the U.S. Census.
Elsewhere in his remarks on Tuesday, Bolsonaro urged Brazilians to stop being “a country of maricas [sissies]” regarding the Chinese coronavirus. Bolsonaro has vocally opposed lockdown measures to stop the spread of the virus but, as Brazil runs on a federal government system, the decision to lock down communities lies with regional governors, not the president.
“Everything now is the pandemic, you guys have to stop it with that business. I lament the dead, I lament it,” Bolsonaro said. “We will all die one day, everyone here is going to die. It’s no use running away from it, fleeing from reality. This has to stop being a nation of maricas.”
“We have to confront it, that’s life,” Bolsonaro said of the pandemic.
Bolsonaro also condemned local governors for dissuading tourism by arresting people defying lockdown measures.
“Arresting a woman in a bikini on the beach is cowardice, rascal behavior, a dictatorship thing. And they call me the dictator!” Bolsonaro said.