In a move critics condemned as "embarrassing nepotism," right-wing Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro on Thursday appointed his son Eduardo to serve as ambassador to the United States.
"It would be obvious how idiotic this is if we didn't have our own nepotism problem. Nepotism is corrupt and dumb."
—Walter Shaub, former U.S. ethics official
Though the appointment still needs approval from Brazil's Federal Senate Foreign Relations Committee and a confirmation vote by all members of the upper house, Eduardo has said he would resign from his current post in the lower house of the country's National Congress to serve as ambassador. As Eduardo put it, according to Reuters, "If it is a mission given by the president, I would accept."
Even before the appointment, Eduardo was "dubbed Brazil's 'shadow foreign minister' at the Brazilian foreign ministry because of the strong influence he has on his father's foreign policy ideas," BBC News reported Friday.
In March, the Brazilian president brought Eduardo along for a trip to D.C. for his first bilateral meeting with U.S. President Donald Trump. Eduardo, Al Jazeera noted in its reporting on his appointment, "sat by his father during an Oval Office chat while Brazil's foreign minister and ambassador in Washington were nowhere to be seen." During the March trip, as Common Dreams reported at the time, the Bolsonaros also made an unannounced visit to CIA headquarters, nearly 55 years after the U.S. spy agency backed a coup d'état that overthrew their country's democratically-elected government.
Jair Bolsonaro has spent years in Brazilian politics celebrating the military dictatorship that followed the 1964 coup and fostering a reputation as a fascist, misogynist, racist, and homophobe. He ascended to the presidency in January and was welcomed by the Trump administration. Bolsonaro defended his decision to offer the ambassadorship to his son by touting Eduardo's relationship with Trump's offspring.
"He is a friend of the children of Donald Trump, speaks English and Spanish, and has great global experience. He would be able to convey our message perfectly," the Brazilian president told local media, according to Financial Times.
Donald Trump's daughter Ivanka and her husband, Jared Kushner, both currently serve as advisers to the U.S. president. Donald Trump Jr. was a key member of his father's 2016 presidential campaign and now runs the Trump Organization with his brother Eric. Ivanka recently elicited global ridicule after a viral video from the G20 summit showed her awkwardly attempting to join a conversation of world leaders.
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Responding to the news of Eduardo Bolsonaro's pending new job, Walter Shaub, who resigned as director of the Office of Government Ethics in 2017 over clashes with the Trump administration, wrote on Twitter Friday that "it would be obvious how idiotic this is if we didn't have our own nepotism problem. Nepotism is corrupt and dumb."
Washington Post columnist and University College London politics professor Brian Klaas tweeted that it's "only a matter of time now before the son of Brazil's wannabe despot has an official meeting with the daughter of America's wannabe despot."
The appointment also provoked a response from Glenn Greenwald, an American journalist who lives in Brazil with his husband—David Miranda, a member of Brazil's National Congress—and children. Greenwald, on Twitter, pointed to a Guardian report from a few years ago about Eduardo honoring the general responsible for the 1964 coup in a congressional speech.
"The public power is not a family business" - President Bolsonaro's scandal-plagued Justice Minister Sergio Moro, 3 months before his boss decided to pick his own son to be Brazil's Ambassador to the US https://t.co/gFFPg7Qs8c
— Glenn Greenwald (@ggreenwald) July 12, 2019
Greenwald is a long-time critic of Jair Bolsonaro and has challenged the Western media narrative that Brazil's president is the Trump of the Tropics—arguing, as Common Dreams has previously reported, "that Bolsonaro poses a far graver danger to basic human rights and democracy."
Since The Intercept—of which Greenwald is a co-founder—began reporting last month on a massive trove of leaked documents that exposed the "politicized prosecution" and imprisonment of former Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, Greenwald has faced threats of violence and deportation as well as an investigation of his finances that critics called "a blatant attempt by Brazilian officials to intimidate—or worse."