1. Skip to content
  2. Skip to main menu
  3. Skip to more DW sites

Bolsonaro: Chile 'is not Cuba' thanks to Pinochet

September 4, 2019

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro accused the UN's Michelle Bachelet of interfering in domestic politics after she criticized rising police violence. He had harsh words for her and praise for Chile's 1973 military coup.

Jair Bolsonaro
Image: Reuters/A. Machado

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro accused the former Chilean leader and current United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, of "following Macron's line in meddling in domestic affairs and Brazilian sovereignty."

French President Emmanuel Macron had led international outrage over the Amazon forest fires and Bolsonaro's handling of the mass destruction.

Augusto Pinochet
In attacking Bachelet, Bolsonaro praised the Chilean coup which brought Augusto Pinochet to powerImage: picture-alliance/AP Photo/S. Llanquin

After Bachelet voiced criticism of police brutality and an erosion of democracy in Brazil, the country's president took to Facebook.

Bolsonaro posted on Wednesday that Bachelet is "attacking our brave civilian and military police officers," and hinted hypocrisy surrounding Chile's human rights record. He also appeared to show praise for the dictatorship of General Augusto Pinochet.

"While [Bachelet] says that Brazil is losing democratic space, she forgets that her country is not Cuba thanks only to those who had the courage to put a stop on the left-wing in 1973," Bolsonaro wrote.

He attacked Bachelet by adding, "among the communists during that era was her brigadier father."

Bachelet's father Alberto had been an air force general loyal to the socialist president Salvador Allende after the 1973 coup and died in jail. Bachelet  was tortured under the Pinochet regime.

Read more: German government cagey on spy cooperation in Pinochet's Chile

Bachelet criticizes Brazil

The human rights commissioner had expressed concerns in Geneva over a spike in police violence in Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo states.

Michelle Bachelet
Bachelet criticized police violence in BrazilImage: Reuters/D. Balibouse

She said that Bolsonaro's discourse could "entrench impunity and reinforce the message that state agents are above the law and are effectively able to kill without being held to account."

Along similar lines as Macron, Bachelet also criticized attacks on indigenous communities following the forest fires in the Amazon.

Read more: Brazil: Thousands protest against 1964 coup commemoration

Bolsonaro's no mercy discourse

A former army captain himself, Bolsonaro has repeatedly praised Brazil's own former military regime.

He was elected on a pledge to show no mercy to criminals at a time when the country experienced waves of violent crime and rising homicide rates.

Between January and July 2019,1,075 Brazilians died at the hands of police, 20% more than the same period last year.

mvb/se (AP, EFE, Reuters)

Every day, DW's editors send out a selection of the day's hard news and quality feature journalism. Sign up for the newsletter here.