Group of House Democrats calls on Pompeo to condemn Brazil's Bolsonaro
More than a dozen House Democrats are urging Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to condemn Brazil’s far-right presidential candidate for encouraging political violence, showing a lack of commitment to democracy and attacking minority communities.
The lawmakers, led by Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) and including Reps. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) and James McGovern (D-Mass.), in their letter dated Friday call Jair Bolsonaro a “far-right extremist” who has said he will not accept the election results if he loses.
Because none of the 13 candidates for Brazil’s presidency secured 50 percent of the vote required to win the election’s first round, the two leading candidates will now participate in a runoff vote on Sunday. Bolsonaro maintains a narrowing lead over the left-wing Workers’ Party’s Fernando Haddad, who is filling in for imprisoned former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva.
The election cycle has been marred with violence. Bolsonaro was critically injuredafter being stabbed at a campaign rally on Sept. 6.
Even though Bolsonaro has condemned his supporters’ violence, he has also encouraged it through divisive rhetoric. In a recent video address, he vowed to banish “red outlaws,” referring to his opponent’s political party.
He has also repeatedly made derogatory remarks about women, including telling a congresswoman he wouldn’t rape her because she didn’t deserve it. He has also attacked the LGBTQ community. In 2011, Bolsonaro told Playboy magazine he would rather his son die than be gay.
The House lawmakers who signed the letter to Pompeo warned that Bolsonaro’s election could have repercussions for the entire region.
Among the lawmakers’ concerns is Bolsonaro’s admiration for Brazil’s brutal military dictatorship, which ruled the country from 1964 to 1985. Bolsonaro’s running mate is a retired general who has expressed support for a military coup. Bolsonaro’s son has also aired similar opinions.
The lawmakers called on Pompeo to make it clear to Brazil that there will be “severe consequences” if Bolsonaro’s rhetoric becomes policy.
“It is incumbent upon you and other spokespeople for our government to condemn all political violence in Brazil and take a strong stand in opposition to such backsliding; leaving clear that U.S. assistance and cooperation with Brazil is contingent on the upholding of basic human rights and democratic values by its leaders,” they said.
Noel Clay, a spokesman for the State Department, expressed confidence in Brazil’s democratic process and said the department will respond to the letter appropriately.
“The United States looks forward to continuing our vibrant partnership with the candidate the Brazilian people elect as their next president,” he said. “Our mutual commitment to promoting security, democracy, economic prosperity and human rights will continue to guide our policy and relationship.”