A change of hat with Bolsonaro

From Brasília

To remove the hat. Jair Bolsonaro retraced his steps, after having cursed Pedro Castillo’s victory over the right-wing Keiko Fujimori a few months ago, this Thursday he received the Peruvian president with joker laughter in the city of Porto Velho. The disconcerting far-right leader even donned the characteristic white hat of this rural teacher who emerged from the left, giving rise to an illustrative image of an unexpected summit.

“I would have liked more to see our president photographed next to Lula, surrounded by the people of the Workers’ Party, the comrades who gave us support in the electoral campaign,” laments Tania Bernuy, a Peruvian cult promoter who has lived in Brazil since years ago. According to what was reported by local media, the Bolsonaro-Castillo meeting was relatively brief, ending around five in the afternoon, time in Porto Velho, capital of the state of Rondonia, in western Amazonia with a time zone to the west. from Brasilia. There were no statements to the press by the rulers, as is usual in this type of summit, nor the signing of agreements or protocols by the ministers of each party. At the close of this Thursday’s meeting, only a 36-point document was distributed with generic intentions of the type, work will be done to “make feasible concrete forms of productive integration as soon as possible.”

Despite the excess of rhetoric, Bolsonaro declared before the meeting that he is really interested in ensuring that Brazil has an “exit to the Pacific”. It is a state objective, a geoeconomic goal on which several governments have worked to allow food exports, especially soybeans produced in the center-west of the country, to reach the Chinese market more quickly. In this sense, he added that it is easier to sign an understanding with a view to the Pacific by negotiating with Peru than to seek another with Chile, because in this second scenario it would be necessary to have the permission of third countries such as Argentina and Bolivia.


Shortly after arriving in Porto Velho, Bolsonaro climbed into the bed of a white police van from where he commanded a caravan of dozens of motorcyclists who greeted him with honks or called him “captain” and “myth”, along with insistent honks to wake up more rampage. Bolsonro repeated in the cloudy Amazonian capital the same proselytizing ritual of last year in Rio de Janeiro, Brasilia, São Paulo and other capitals. Since motorcyclists wear helmets it is difficult to identify them, despite which it is known that many of them are members of the police and military forces. This is the hard and armed militancy that still remains loyal to the occupant of the Planalto Palace.

After touring part of the city at the head of the caravan, the ex-military man walked a couple of blocks and was applauded by a good number of people on the sidewalk, from which a little girl came out wearing the Brazilian team’s jersey, received with a hug. by the ruler, who then lifted her up without a chinstrap. Many of his gestures are not spontaneous, and perhaps this one with the girl is not either: Bolsonaro is on a crusade against the vaccination of children against the coronavirus and defends tooth and nail the abolition of the mask.

Asked by journalists about the reason for his meeting with Castillo, his answers were brief and limited to saying that his attacks during the 2021 Peruvian electoral campaign had been forgotten. He expressed his confidence that Castillo is a defender of “freedom”. ” and “conservative values”. Instead, he preferred to attack Lula, the favorite in all the polls for the upcoming October 2 elections. In several polls, the leader of the Workers’ Party achieves scores that would allow him to win in the first round without the need for a second round against a Bolsonaro with permanently low approval levels. He said that there are still people who bet on the return of “a criminal” like the PT leader. Someone who, according to the captain, squandered state resources granting credits from the National Bank for Economic and Social Development for the construction of the Caracas Metro and the Port of Mariel in Cuba. Credit, this last one, that the island is going to “pay with cigars”, he ironized.

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The Peruvian militant Bernuy spoke by video conference with Castillo minutes after the meeting with Bolsonaro and shortly before his departure back to Lima. “I told the president that he has to keep his campaign promises, I stressed it to him like twice, how difficult things are getting in my country. And I reminded him that we campaigned in Brazil in favor of him in the elections of the year last”. In dialogue with this newspaper, Bernuy spoke of her surprise at the trip to Brazil “to meet Bozo (Bolsonaro’s nickname), a character from the extreme right, a psychopath.”

“We don’t know what they talked about between them behind closed doors, I hope they haven’t gone beyond technical issues, of what has to do with the necessary collaboration for the sustainable development of people who suffer so much on both sides of the border” . Bernuy fears that Castillo has entered into a clear setback, that he has gone right with no return. “We hope that this is not a definitive setback for our government. This visit to Bolsonaro occurs just as very negative cabinet changes are taking place.”

Until the end of Wednesday, groups close to Castillismo in Brazil, some from civil society and others who were close to the Peru Libre party, continued negotiating for the president to make a stopover in São Paulo for a possible meeting with Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. “From Lima they gave us hope that Pedro was going to do everything possible to go through San Pablo, perhaps to meet Lula, we were negotiating with people from the PT and the Central Unica de los Trabajadores and they showed us a lot of receptivity. We even talked about the logistical issues for a meeting at the metalworkers’ union in San Bernardo do Campo, which is relatively close to where Lula lives.

Bernuy does not intend to give up despite the frustration of having seen his president talking with the former captain in the Amazon and promises to continue operating so that on the next trip to Brazil he meets the leader of the PT and the favorite candidate for October. “We hope that Lula wins for the good of Brazil and for the good of the region. I hope that next year we will have the photo of Lula and Castillo, because the one today of Bolsonaro taking off his hat seemed very ugly to me. Pedro is a simple, humble person, Pedro is authentic people, he has always said that the hat is part of his identity, for me that Bolsonaro took advantage of the moment and took it to appear in the photo.

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