Donald Trump Endorses Jair Bolsonaro as Brazil Senate Recommends Charges Over Pandemic

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has received a reelection endorsement from former President Donald Trump the same day that the Brazilian Senate recommend he face criminal charges for his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.

"President Jair Bolsonaro and I have become great friends over the past few years," former President Trump said in a statement. "He fights for, and loves, the people of Brazil."

"[Bolsonaro] is a great president and will never let the people of his great country down," the statement continued.

The president of Brazil since 2019, Bolsonaro has often been compared to Trump because of his numerous similar policies. The Daily Beast has even called Bolsonaro the "Trump of the Tropics."

An independent who was a former official in Rio de Janeiro, Bolsonaro was elected on a far-right platform of nationalist conservatism. He has also advocated pro-life views and supports less restrictive gun laws in Brazil.

Additionally, Foreign Policy noted in January that Bolsonaro "[idolized] the outgoing U.S. president" and was "peddling similar false claims and conspiracy theories in Brazil" after the 2020 U.S. presidential election.

Trump's endorsement comes hours after a Brazilian Senate committee voted 7-4 on a recommendation that Bolsonaro should face criminal charges for his handling of COVID.

Jair Bolsonaro Speech
Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has received an endorsement from former President Donald Trump the same day that the Brazilian Senate recommended he face charges for his handling of the pandemic. Here, Bolsonaro can be seen giving a speech in 2020. Evaristo Sa/Getty

While Bolsonaro is up for reelection in 2022, his approval ratings have been falling as a result of hyperinflation and his response to the pandemic. Brazil has had the second-most deaths from COVID-19 in the world, behind only the United States.

The Senate committee had been investigating Bolsonaro and his administration's actions regarding COVID for the past six months.

A copy of the committee's report obtained by the Associated Press states that Bolsonaro should be charged with a number of offenses, from inciting crime to charlatanism and crimes against humanity.

The author of the report also stated that Bolsonaro was "the main person responsible for the errors committed by the federal government during the pandemic."

Bolsonaro allegedly did not purchase the needed amount of COVID vaccines to inoculate the Brazilian population, and has additionally expressed doubt about the vaccines' efficacy. He has also reportedly downplayed the severity of the pandemic and pushed back against mask mandates and quarantines.

The only major government policy that Bolsonaro endorsed against the pandemic was the use of hydroxychloroquine, an anti-malarial drug also advocated by former President Trump.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has stated that "the potential benefits of these drugs do not outweigh their risks," and the use of hydroxychloroquine has not been proven effective against the virus.

Bolsonaro himself contracted COVID-19 in July 2020.

Nationwide protests occurred in Brazil this past June, with people demanding that Bolsonaro resign due to what they felt was poor handling of the pandemic. German outlet DW reported that the protests extended across 43 Brazilian cities.

Despite the findings of the Senate, Bolsonaro has maintained that he did not handle the pandemic improperly, and has brushed off the recommendations of health officials as "political correctness". Additionally, the nation's Prosecutor-General is viewed as a Bolsonaro loyalist who is likely to protect him in a court of law.

Newsweek has contacted the Brazilian government's press office for comment.