Brazil’s Bolsonaro invited to Texas event by World Affairs Council

BRASILIA (Reuters) – Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro is expected to attend an event next week in Texas at the invitation of the World Affairs Council of Dallas/Fort Worth, the council said on Wednesday, following the cancellation of his trip to New York City.

The South American leader will speak to business and civic leaders at an event in Dallas hosted by the council on May 16, the council said in a statement.

Bolsonaro’s planned visit to Texas comes after his trip to New York was canceled as sponsors dropped out of an event set to honor him as person of the year. The organizers struggled to find a venue, under pressure from criticisms about his past racist, homophobic and anti-environment remarks.

“Through events like this, we offer our members the opportunity to hear directly from individuals who hold positions of significance in the world,” Jim Falk, chief executive of the local branch of the World Affairs Councils of America, said in the statement. “We look forward to hearing from the president of the largest country in the Southern Hemisphere and the fifth-largest country in the world.”

Another official cited in the statement said the council does not endorse the views of any of its speakers.

Bolsonaro’s office did not immediately respond to request for comment. Earlier in the day, Bolsonaro said at an event in the Presidential Palace in Brasilia that he was finalizing plans to go to Texas, tentatively for May 16 and 17.

On Monday, Bolsonaro’s official spokesman Otavio Rego Barros said the president had been invited by Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings, something that Rawlings office denied.

“Mayor Mike Rawlings did not invite Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro to Dallas,” a spokesman for Rawlings said by email. He added: “Mayor Rawlings will welcome him to the city, as is customary for the mayor to do for democratically elected presidents of major countries.”

That contrasts with New York Mayor Bill de Blasio who had openly opposed Bolsonaro’s visit to the city, where the Brazilian-American Chamber of Commerce was to honor him as Person of the Year. De Blasio on Twitter praised the cancellation, saying the world must stand up to Bolsonaro’s assault on gay rights and the environment.

On Wednesday, Bolsonaro hit back, saying that de Blasio had “incited” the population against him, among the mayor’s other efforts to “sabotage” his visit.

Reporting by Jake Spring and Lisandra Paraguassu; Editing by Leslie Adler

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