Brazil’s Bolsonaro Trolls Leonardo DiCaprio for Sharing Environmental Fake News

Andressa Anholete; Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images
Andressa Anholete; Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro traded barbs with actor Leonardo DiCaprio on Friday after DiCaprio urged young Brazilians to vote for a “healthy planet,” implicitly suggesting they vote against the incumbent president in the October general election. Bolsonaro retaliated by dismissing DiCaprio as a tool of “crooks who serve foreign special interests.”

DiCaprio, a self-styled environmentalist with absolutely no interest in reducing his own titanic carbon footprint, tweeted out a link to a Brazilian voter registration website on Thursday:

Brazilian youth tend to be even more apathetic about voting than teenagers in most other countries, a problem the Brazilian Left is attempting to address on behalf of challenger Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva.

Polls show young voters tend to dislike Bolsonaro, but voting registration for 16 and 17-year-olds declined from 2.5 million to just over 630,000 over the past ten years. The enthusiasm of even this smaller youth voting bloc for 75-year-old Lula is questionable, as he was sentenced to 25 years in prison for a massive bribery scandal, and corruption tends to be a major issue among young voters worldwide. Lula’s conviction was annulled in March 2021, paving the way for his presidential bid.

Interest in recruiting young voters intensified as Lula’s once-gigantic polling lead over Bolsonaro dwindled to nine points or less. As the yacht-loving DiCaprio’s tweet indicated, May 4 is the deadline for voter registration in Brazil.

Bolsonaro returned fire on Friday by dismissing DiCaprio as a tool of “crooks who serve foreign special interests.” He added some applause for DiCaprio’s performance in the 2015 film The Revenant – the movie in which Leo gets savagely mauled by an angry bear.

Bolsonaro further dinged DiCaprio for hypocrisy and slipshod environmental research:

Bolsonaro and DiCaprio have clashed in public before. In November 2019, Bolsonaro accused the actor of funding non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that were later involved in setting Amazon rainforest fires and blaming them on the Brazilian government.

“Leonardo DiCaprio, you are collaborating with the burning of the Amazon,” Bolsonaro said at the time.

Former State Department official Scott Hamilton, who retired last week, piled on Bolsonaro by writing a Saturday op-ed for Brazilian newspaper O Globo in which he recommended the U.S. lead international sanctions against Bolsonaro if he attempts to undermine the October election.

Hamilton accused Bolsonaro and his supporters of trying to “sabotage the integrity of the Brazilian democratic process” and “undermine the public’s faith” in the electoral system, in order to “set the stage for the effort to refuse to accept its outcome.”

“He sees himself as an envoy of God to save Brazil from ‘communism.’ It is a messianic vision impervious to reason,” Hamilton said. 

During the 2020 U.S. presidential campaign, candidate Joe Biden threatened to destroy the Brazilian economy due to its putative irresponsibility in fighting Amazon fires. Bolsonaro responded by threatening to use “gunpowder” against the U.S. if Biden won the election and implemented his plan.


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