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Bolsonaro’s son ditches plan to be US ambassador

23 October 2019   |   10:20 am
The son of Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro said he had dropped hopes of becoming the country's ambassador to the United States.

(FILES) In this file photo taken on October 11, 2019 Brazilian Deputy Eduardo Bolsonaro, son of Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, speaks during the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), in Sao Paulo, Brazil. – The son of Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro said on Tuesday that he had dropped hopes of becoming the country’s ambassador to the United States. (Photo by NELSON ALMEIDA / AFP)

The son of Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro said he had dropped hopes of becoming the country’s ambassador to the United States.

Eduardo Bolsonaro told fellow lawmakers in the Chamber of Deputies on Tuesday that he had made the decision partly due to lack of support, adding that his father had not influenced his choice.

“It was a decision I had been thinking about for a long time,” he told local media in Brasilia.

“You listen to the advice of many people. There is also the issue of my electorate. I confess that the majority was not supportive.”

Faced with political and legal resistance to his nomination, Eduardo Bolsonaro — who recently turned 35, Brazil’s minimum legal age for ambassadorships — had been pushing his case for the job.

A compulsive social media user like his father, the congressman regularly posts photos of himself posing with world leaders, including US President Donald Trump and Saudi Arabia’s crown prince Mohammed Bin Salman.

Re-elected to the lower house in 2018 with a record number of votes, he had touted his experience of flipping hamburgers in the US during a work exchange program in 2005 and 2006, and his role as head of the foreign relations committee to bolster his ambassadorial credentials.

Former Trump advisor Steve Bannon, the founder of a far-right movement that Eduardo Bolsonaro joined in February as leader of the Brazilian chapter, previously praised the possible nomination.

And at times he has even usurped Brazil’s top diplomat Ernesto Araujo, earning himself the nickname “shadow foreign minister” and causing confusion over who is the country’s most senior envoy.

But Eduardo Bolsonaro’s lack of formal diplomatic training and experience was a red flag for many.

“Eduardo does not meet any of the requirements to be a diplomat,” Fernanda Magnotta, who heads the international relations program at FAAP university, told AFP recently.

Brazil’s ambassador to the US has always “been held by absolutely experienced figures and senior negotiators,” she said.

“He has only a law degree and is not even fluent in English.”

If confirmed, the appointment would bring Brazil closer “to being a banana republic,” newspaper columnist at O Globo Bernardo Mello Franco had warned.

More polished
Bolsonaro said this week his third son could help “pacify” bitter divisions in his Social Liberal Party (PSL).

A surfer with a well-trimmed beard, Eduardo Bolsonaro presents a more polished image than the president, who often appears ill at ease in public.

Like his elder brothers Flavio and Carlos — who are also in politics — Eduardo is fiercely loyal to his father and shares his climate-change skeptic, anti-socialist and pro-gun views.

And he rarely misses an opportunity to publicise them, even on his wedding day.

A video posted on his Instagram account celebrating his marriage in May shows a close-up of Eduardo’s tie-pin — which was in the shape of a handgun.

Bolsonaro, a close ally of Trump, first said in July his son was on track to becoming the ambassador in Washington.