Eduardo Bolsonaro, son of Brazil’s right-wing President Jair Bolsonaro, doesn’t believe in climate change. His philosophical hero questions whether the Earth is really round. Now, the 35-year-old congressman is likely to be Brazil’s next ambassador to the United States.
Jair Bolsonaro said Thursday that he would name his son as the country’s ambassador, a move he hopes will strengthen ties between the two nations. Eduardo Bolsonaro, a right-wing congressman from Rio de Janeiro, orchestrated his father’s March trip to the Oval Office and is the Latin American leader of Stephen K. Bannon’s nationalist group, the Movement.
“I studied abroad and fried hamburgers in the United States,” Eduardo Bolsonaro said Friday, after meeting with Brazil’s foreign minister. “In cold Colorado, on top of a mountain, I worked on my English. I saw the receptive attitudes of Americans towards Brazilians. So I think it is something that can be done.”
It’s a decision many here are calling McDonald’s diplomacy. Eduardo’s appointment to the most prestigious posting in the country’s foreign service sparked a collective groan from several career diplomats, who consider it another show of nepotism. The right-wing president has three of his sons as unofficial advisers.
“Dozens of diplomats dedicate a lifetime of work and study to take on this role,” Marcelo Calero, a former career diplomat, said of the appointment during a congressional session Friday.
But Bolsonaro’s penchant for nepotism may be one more thing he has in common with the U.S. president. The debate over his son’s appointment comes at a time when President Trump faces his own scrutiny for sending his daughter Ivanka to the Group of 20 summit and relying on his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, to broker Middle East peace deals.
Still, some analysts say Bolsonaro’s appointment makes sense. Eduardo Bolsonaro is considered the most popular representative in the country: He swept more votes in his last election than any other congressman in Brazil’s history. He chairs the international affairs and national defense committee in congress.
More importantly, Eduardo may have Trump’s ear. He was the only one of Bolsonaro’s advisers to be called into the Oval Office as the two presidents met. After his father was elected in October, Eduardo met with Kushner and Bannon in a high-profile trip where he sported a “Trump 2020” cap.
Bannon praised the appointment as “very smart” to local paper Estado de Sao Paulo. “Eduardo understands Trump and Trump’s movement. He will arrive at his post knowing the actors, the questions and the opportunities.”
While Bolsonaro has yet to formally nominate Eduardo, Brazil’s foreign ministry said Friday that it would back the appointment.
“Imagine if in Brazil you had the son of Mauricio Macri as an ambassador of Argentina?” Bolsonaro said at a news conference Thursday. “Obviously the treatment he would get would be different from a normal ambassador.”