By Arkady Petrov
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Half of the 14 Dallas city councilmen signed, on Tuesday afternoon, a letter opposing the visit to the city by the president of Brazil, Jair Bolsonaro.
Municipal councilors, as they are called in the United States, criticize the Brazilian president’s positions on issues such as LGBT, indigenous, and black peoples’ rights.
The arguments are analogous to those that led the mayor of New York, Bill de Blasio, to claim that Bolsonaro would not be welcome in the largest American city.
The letter states that hosting Bolsonaro in Dallas breeds “profound dissatisfaction” with the World Affairs Council of Dallas, where Bolsonaro is to receive on Thursday a tribute from the Brazil-U.S. Chamber of Commerce which elected him as its “Personality of the Year”.
The award ceremony should have taken place at a gala dinner on Tuesday evening in New York, but Bolsonaro canceled his participation following the mayor’s positioning and protests.
According to councilmen, this is “providing President Bolsonaro with a platform for an event that dangerously normalizes his authoritarianism and expresses implicit support for his discriminatory acts, words and political positions,” they say in the letter.
The principal organizer of this letter was Councilman Scott Griggs. Regarded as more left-wing than the average Democratic Party in the city, he is seeking a mayoral election in Dallas.
The Brazilian president’s visit became part of the dispute. Griggs has made political use of the fact that his main opponent, fellow Democrat Eric Johnson, did not condemn Bolsonaro’s visit, adopting the same position as the current mayor, Mike Rawlings, who said he disagrees with Bolsonaro, but would not oppose the visit of a democratically elected leader.
Last week, Bolsonaro accused Blasio of behaving “like a radical” in protesting against his presence in New York and replied to the mayor that “if I cannot be welcomed in New York, we will be in Texas.”
After the incident, the Brazilian president received the solidarity of Vice Hamilton Mourão and of the president of the House of Representatives, Rodrigo Maia, all of whom criticized Blasio’s position.
Pro and anti-Bolsonaro groups are organizing a series of demonstrations during the president’s two-day visit to the city.
Brazilians who live in the region and support Bolsonaro are organizing themselves, mainly in social networks, preparing posters and t-shirts.
In contrast, fifteen non-governmental organizations of Indians, blacks, gays, trade unionists, and environmentalists are preparing demonstrations against him.
The majority of the anti-Bolsonaro groups are made up almost exclusively of Americans – there are reports of only one Brazilian among the organizers of the protests.