Brazil’s far-right president, Jair Bolsonaro, has abruptly stopped a US trip to get a famous award following a storm of protest over his history of homophobic, racist and misogynist remarks and plans to erode environmental protections in the Amazon.
The cancellation declared suddenly on Friday, came after the original venue ditched the event, the mayor of New York City attacked his presence and major corporate sponsors pulled out. Bolsonaro’s spokesman blamed ideological attacks from interest groups and Bill de Blasio, the mayor of New York.
“It is a very big embarrassment,” said Paulo Baía, a professor of political science at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro.
The gala event was original as a result of being hosted at the American Museum of Natural History – but the museum pulled the event after criticism from LGBT and environmental groups. Last month Bolsonaro said Brazil could not become a “gay tourism” paradise and his government has come under fire for plans to dismantle Amazon protections and build protected indigenous reserves.
“Jair Bolsonaro is a dangerous man,” tweeted de Blasio as he thanked the museum for its choice.
In a statement on Friday, Bolsonaro’s spokesman, General Otávio do Rêgo Barros blamed “resistance and deliberate attacks from the mayor of New York and pressure from groups of interest”. The general said these attacks had been “ideological”.
Maurício Santoro, a professor of international relations at the State University of Rio de Janeiro, said it was remarkable that Bolsonaro was dealing with such corporate protests just 4 months into his presidency.
“We can imagine what comes ahead,” he said.