A 19-year-old girl Wednesday upset Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro at his usual greeting before followers at the Alvorada Palace to recite a biblical verse, demand answers, and call him “a farce,” something which visibly irritated him.
Bolsonaro was taken by surprise. President, can I pronounce a biblical verse before you? It is that verse that you say you like a lot and so do I, asked student Hadassa Gomes, aged 19. You will know the truth and the truth will set you free, the truth is Jesus, the truth is justice, it is honesty. And knowing that I can consider that you are a farce, sir, much to the disapproval of Bolsonaro supporters.
Did you come here for that?, Bolsonaro replied.
No sir, I came to question you, are you going to run away from the question? You defend freedom of expression and I have my questions, sir.
After that, Bolsonaro walked on by claiming the protester was surely affiliated with the opposition Workers' Party (PT).
Bolsonaro also announced Wednesday he will tour Europe to strengthen ties with local rightwing parties. The trip comes at the beginning of an electoral year in which he is projected to lose his reelection bid to former President Luiz Inácio Lula Da Silva.
The Brazilian leader will tour Poland, Hungary and Russia. The first two are part of the eurosceptic bloc within the European Union and are led by two glassy figures for Brussels such as Víktor Orbán (Hungary) and Andrzej Duda (Poland). The Hungarian leader was present at Bolsonaro's inauguration in 2019. He will be seeking his fourth term in office in April and is promoting a plebiscite against gender indoctrination in schools.
Poland is also the epicenter of conservative policies that Bolsonaro defends, especially against abortion or initiatives related to gender policies.
In Moscow Bolsonaro plans to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin, amid escalating tension with the United States over Ukraine. Bolsonaro's relationship with US President Joseph Biden is not particularly good. He is actually feared to favor Lula for the October elections.
All three destinations are members of the so-called Geneva Consensus, the anti-abortion bloc created in 2020. The trip is regarded as an attempt to underscore Bolsonaro's conservative stance throughout his electoral base. But in terms of foreign trade, Hungary and Poland combined account for roughly 0.5% of Brazil's total exports. Therefore, this tour seems to drift apart from concrete national interests.
As for Putin, he is to receive visits from the governments of Brazil and Argentina in the coming weeks, which is a sign of prestige at this moment of high tension, but in practical terms, neither Bolsonaro nor Argentine President Alberto Fernández are regarded as leaders who can play a decisive role in the Ukraine crisis.
Bolsonaro's poor performance on the international arena contrasts with Lula's, who has been welcomed with head of state honors in Germany, France and Spain and is preparing a trip to Mexico and the United States.