Brazil's Bolsonaro backs Trump wall, derides immigrants ahead of meeting




  • In Business
  • 2019-03-19 14:39:44Z
  • By By Lisandra Paraguassu
Brazilian President Bolsonaro participates in Brazil-U.S. Business forum
Brazilian President Bolsonaro participates in Brazil-U.S. Business forum  

By Lisandra Paraguassu

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro endorsed U.S. President Donald Trump's immigration agenda on the eve of their first meeting at the White House, saying he supports a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border and that most immigrants to the United States wish to do harm.

Bolsonaro, a far-right congressman who rode to the presidency with a brash, anti-establishment campaign modeled on Trump's 2016 run, has pledged a new era of pro-American policy in the Southern Hemisphere's second-largest country.

Ahead of Tuesday's Oval Office meeting, Bolsonaro waived a visa requirement for U.S. visitors to Brazil and later in a Fox News interview on Monday night threw his weight behind Trump's immigration agenda, which includes a wall on the Mexican border.

"We do agree with President Trump's decision or proposal on the wall," Bolsonaro said, in remarks translated to English by the broadcaster. "The vast majority of potential immigrants do not have good intentions. They do not intend to do the best or do good to the U.S. people.

"I would very much like the U.S. to uphold the current immigration policy, because to a large extent we owe our democracy in the Southern Hemisphere to the United States," he said.

Bolsonaro, a former army captain, rose to power praising the U.S.-backed military government that ran Brazil for two decades before a return to democracy in 1985, echoing Cold War rhetoric in his presidential campaign about the need to fight a continued communist threat.

Since his inauguration in January, Bolsonaro also has adopted elements of Trump's presidential style, including taunting political foes on Twitter and denouncing media coverage he does not like as "fake news."

Although he did not get into specifics of his agenda in Washington, Bolsonaro said the presidents would discuss a deepening political and economic crisis in socialist Venezuela.

Bolsonaro said Brazil is the country most interested in seeing an end to the government of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, which he called a "drug trafficking dictatorship."

In addition to their shared political agenda, Bolsonaro spoke hopefully of a blossoming friendship with Trump.

"I'm willing to open my heart up to him and do whatever is good, to the benefit of both the Brazilian and the American people," Bolsonaro told Fox News.

(Writing and additional reporting by Marcelo Rochabrun; Editing by Brad Haynes and Bill Trott)

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