Human rights

Expert Voices

In Bolsonaro, Bolton finds a dangerous ally

Supporters of Brazil's elected presidential candidate Jair Bolsonaro are celebrating the confirmation of the victory of the second round of elections in the Paulista avenue
Supporters of Brazil's elected presidential candidate Jair Bolsonaro celebrating his victory in São Paulo, on October 28, 2018. Photo: Fabio Vieira/FotoRua/NurPhoto via Getty Images

In a vituperative speech about Latin America on Thursday, national security adviser John Bolton referred to the Cuban, Nicaraguan and Venezuelan governments as a “troika of tyranny” and their leaders as "the three stooges." Perhaps most notably, after making vague promises to pressure the three repressive regimes and announcing an imminent increase in sanctions on Venezuela, Bolton called Brazil's recently elected right-wing authoritarian, Jair Bolonsoro, a “like-minded” leader for the Trump administration.

Why it matters: There is a clear affinity between the demagoguery of Trump and Bolsonaro, who are often facilely compared, but the latter's is hardly the sort of liberal government that would make a good ally against the oppressive “triangle of terror.” In fact, as a growing body of political science research has argued, Bolsonaro’s approach is in line with the strain of anti-democratic populism that has sprung up in Turkey, Poland, Hungry, the Philippines and Venezuela under former President Hugo Chávez.

Expert Voices

U.S. increasingly isolated from the UN ahead of General Assembly

US National Security Advisor, John Bolton, speaks to the Federalist Society in Washington DC
National Security Advisor John Bolton speaks to the Federalist Society in Washington, D.C., on September 10, 2018. Photo: Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP via Getty Images

In the lead-up to the UN General Assembly meetings, the Trump administration is taking the UN to task in both word and deed. In June, U.S. Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley rebuked the UN Special Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty for including the U.S. in a report about poverty in developed countries. Then, only days after the head of the UN Human Rights Council (HRC) criticized the Trump administration’s child separation policy at the U.S.–Mexico border, the U.S. announced its withdrawal from that body.

The big picture: It's not clear how much further the Trump administration will take America's withdrawal from the international community. The U.S. helped launch the UN in 1945, but its role — and perhaps even its membership — in the organization has now been thrown into question.

More stories loading.