Brazil's Bolsonaro, a Trump fan, urged to refrain from hasty U.S. election comment

BRASILIA (Reuters) - Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has been advised by domestic aides to wait until U.S. election results are official before congratulating his political idol Donald Trump on a win, even if either candidate declares himself winner beforehand, two sources familiar with the matter told Reuters.

FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Donald Trump hosts a photo-op with Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro before attending a working dinner at the Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Florida, U.S., March 7, 2020. REUTERS/Tom Brenner

Bolsonaro, a far-right populist, has modeled himself on the U.S. president and delights in being called the “Tropical Trump.” The U.S. leader has not completely redrawn U.S.-Brazil relations in the way Brasilia may have hoped, but he represents a key ideological ally for Bolsonaro.

If Joe Biden wins, the Democrat could put the environment and human rights at the top of the bilateral agenda, complicating relations and jeopardizing trade, diplomats and analysts have told Reuters.

Americans cast votes on Tuesday in the bitterly contested presidential election. But it could be days before the result is known, especially if legal challenges focused on ballots sent by mail are accepted in the event of a tight race.

As a result, diplomats and aides have urged Bolsonaro to avoid making statements on the result, even if Trump or Biden declare themselves the victor, one of the sources said.

“The recommendation is not to say anything until we have a definitive result,” the source said.

Prime ministers and presidents around the world are facing the same delicate question. “We may be sitting on our hands for a while after election day,” said the foreign policy adviser to one northern European leader.

On Tuesday, Bolsonaro met with Foreign Minister Ernesto Araújo, his strategic advisor Flávio Rocha, and with his international advisor Filipe Martins to define their election result strategy.

Bolsonaro also suggested, without evidence, that there could be foreign interference both in the U.S. election, and in Brazil’s 2022 vote, in which he is almost certain to seek re-election.

He wrote in a tweet that the U.S. elections “arouse global interests... because they influence the geopolitics and projection of world power... There is always a strong suspicion of interference by other powers in the final result.”

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security said on Tuesday that there had so far been no indications of digital foreign interference with ballots.

Additional reporting by Eduardo Simoes in Sao Paulo, writing by Gabriel Stargardter, Editing by Rosalba O’Brien