Brazil’s far-right president nixes U.S. trip in face of protests

BRASILIA (Reuters) – Brazil’s far-right President Jair Bolsonaro has canceled a trip to the United States, his office announced on Friday, after sharp protests against his being honored as the person of the year by the Brazilian-American Chamber of Commerce.

FILE PHOTO: Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro speaks with journalists after visiting Yasmin Alves at the Estrutural slum, in Brasilia, Brazil April 27, 2019. REUTERS/Adriano Machado

Due to Bolsonaro’s past racist, homophobic and misogynist remarks, organizers saw multiple venues in New York refuse to host the gala dinner, including the American Museum of Natural History.

Major sponsors such as Delta Air Lines, The Financial Times and Bain & Co this week yanked their support for the event.

Bolsonaro spokesman General Otavio Rego Barros said in a statement the president would not be attending the dinner due to “the resistance and deliberate attacks by the Mayor of New York and the pressure of interest groups” on its organizers and sponsors.

Delta said it would no longer be sponsoring the event, but declined to give further details.

The Financial Times also said it would no longer be a sponsor of the event while declining to give further details.

“We have decided to withdraw our sponsorship of the … 2019 Person of the Year Awards Gala Dinner,” Bain said. “Encouraging and celebrating diversity is a core Bain principle.”

The cancellation is seen as a blow for Bolsonaro, who has actively courted closer ties with the United States and particularly President Donald Trump, whom he has praised. Bolsonaro’s rejection by corporate heavyweights also hurts his vow to grow foreign investment in Brazil.

Bank of America Merrill Lynch, BNP Paribas, Credit Suisse, Citigroup Inc and JPMorgan Chase & Co all declined to comment on whether they would abandon the event.

On its website, the Brazilian-American Chamber of Commerce said it had chosen Bolsonaro as its person of the year because of his “intention of fostering closer commercial and diplomatic ties between Brazil and the United States.”

Bolsonaro is loved by his supporters for his outspoken views on guns, family values and the military. But his critics accuse him of racism, homophobia and misogyny. He once said a female lawmaker was too ugly to rape, and said he would not be able to love a gay son.

Reporting by Lisandra Paraguassu; editing by Chris Reese and G Crosse

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