President Jair Bolsonaro can’t deny it: he only thinks about himself. It was the case when he ignored the importance of vaccines while hundreds of thousands died of Covid, when he accuses his opponents of corruption despite numerous investigations into his own government, and when he traveled to London over the weekend. Claiming he went on the trip to pay his respects to Queen Elizabeth II, he instead used the late monarch’s funeral for a last-gasp attempt to keep his presidential campaign alive. Straight from Westminster Abbey, Mr. Bolsonaro hopped on a plane to New York for the UN General Assembly, maintaining Brazil’s tradition of delivering the event’s opening address.
Unsurprisingly, the president used his fourth outing at UNGA to once again ignore the international community, and instead speak directly to his base at home — confusing those in attendance.
His attempt to use the royal funeral and UNGA as campaign events were so blatant that Brazil’s electoral court barred Mr. Bolsonaro from using any footage from the two outings in his campaign advertising his.
There is broad consensus among international relations experts that President Bolsonaro’s four years in office have transformed Brazil into a global pariah, be that by verbally attacking leaders from Asia, Europe, and South America, or allowing the country’s deforestation rates to spiral out of control.
It is therefore strange that Mr. Bolsonaro did not use what is potentially his last outing him in front of the international community to try and mend his government’s image problem. According to polls, he is set to lose October’s election, and next year’s UNGA is likely to be opened by former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva — something of a darling of the international community. But for Mr. Bolsonaro, he was once again looking out for number one. Whether it be a funeral, a deadly pandemic, or a global address, his political ambitions always come first.