Brazil president takes aim at rival in address to 77th session of UN General Assembly

Jair Bolsonaro took aim Tuesday at political rival Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva whom he will face in the presidential elections in October during his address to the 77th session of the UN General Assembly.


It was Bolsonaro’s fourth address to the UN since 2019 and he used his time to campaign ahead of the presidential election, with the left-wing opposition in Brazil in his sights.


When the left ruled Brazil, “the person responsible for this was unanimously condemned in three instances,” he said, without mention da Silva by name. The former president was initally found guilty in a scandal dubbed Car Wash but that ruling was later overturned. “Whistleblowers returned $1 billion and we paid the American stock exchange another billion for losses of its shareholders. This is the Brazil of the past.”


He claimed that previous corruption scandals that engulfed Brazil’s state-owned old company, Petrobras, are now in the past, as there is no more “systemic corruption that exist in the country.”


Amid the politically-charged situation before Oct. 2, when Brazil heads to the polls, Bolsonaro said poverty is declining under his leadership with the hardest-hit families receiving $4 a day.


The far-right leader continued in a vein similar to his recent rallies, defending conservative values, family values, abortion and “gender ideology” but underscored the importance of women’s rights, insisting that violence against women is on the decline.


Noting that Brazil is on “the path to shared prosperity,” he also touched on a range of issues from the Russia-Ukraine war, the effect of the coronavirus, Brazil’s vaccine rollout, its humanitarian role and environmental matters.


Turning to the war, Bolsonaro noted “threats to international peace and security,” acknowledging the UN’s role which he said emerged from the “ruins” after WWII but pushed for reforms, insisting that “we must look for innovative solutions.”


He also called for long-lasting and sustainable solutions to the conflict, denouncing measures ranging from diplomatic isolation and unilateral solutions which he said affect sustainability goals.


Economic sanctions are inconsistent with international law and threaten citizens, he said, before suggesting that the only way to achieve a solution to the conflict is “through dialogue.”


Bolsonaro praised the agribusiness industry in Brazil, noting that when it comes to food production, the South American nation has recently moved from a “food importer” to a “food exporter” because of its heavy investment in science.


He also positioned himself as an advocate for free speech and religious freedom.


“I want to announce here that Brazil opens its doors to welcome Catholic priests and nuns who have suffered cruel persecution from the dictatorial regime in Nicaragua. Brazil repudiates religious persecution anywhere in the world,” he said.


Bolsonaro touched on Brazil’s humanitarian role as it has “always supported” peace-keeping operations across the world and recently has opened its doors to Venezuelans fleeing economic hardship, as well as Syrians and Haitians


The Brazilian leader also paid homage to his wife Michelle Bolsonaro who he said has been undertaking voluntary work with those suffering disabilities.


Bolsonaro is expected to meet UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and the presidents of Ecuador, Guatemala, Poland and Serbia before returning to Brazil later Tuesday.


For over six decades Brazil has largely been the first speaker at the UNGA, followed by the US.


The tradition dates to 1947 when Brazil’s Foreign Minister Oswaldo Aranha presided over the Assembly’s first special session before being elected president of the second session of the General Assembly.


The South American nation also has a non-permanent seat on the UN Security Council for the 2022-2023 term.


Source: Anadolu Agency