The far-right president of Brazil, Jair Bolsonaro, has pulled out of a trip to attend a gala in his honor in New York. The cancellation comes after several companies withdrew their sponsorship for the event.
Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has canceled plans to attend a gala dinner in New York where he was to be honored. The event drew widespread criticism in the US city, among other things from its mayor.
The far-right leader has come under fire both at home and abroad for making racist, homophobic and misogynist remarks and for pursuing policies that many see as highly damaging to the environment.
A number of companies, including Delta Air Lines and the Financial Times, said they would be withdrawing their support, while the American Museum of Natural History joined several other venues in refusing to host the May 14 event of the Brazilian-American Chamber of Commerce.
A spokesman for Bolsonaro said in a statement that the president had decided to cancel the trip due to "resistance and deliberate attacks by the mayor of New York and the pressure of interest groups" on organizers. The mayor of New York, Bill de Blasio, has referred to Bolsonaro, who once described a female lawmaker as too ugly to rape, as "a dangerous man."
The gala event is still planned to take place at the Marriott Marquis Hotel in New York's famous Times Square, according to the host organization. There have been nightly protests outside the hotel by people wanting to see the gala completely canceled.
'Person of the year'
Bolsonaro was to have received a "Person of the Year" award at the event for his "intention of fostering closer commercial and diplomatic ties between Brazil and the United States," according to the Brazilian-American Chamber of Commerce website.
Whereas the Brazilian-US group is seeking to honor Bolsonaro for his pro-business stance, critics of the president say that his agenda could come at a high cost to the Amazon rainforest after he placed management of the environment in the hands of an agriculture minister who is close to the agribusiness industry.
The president was elected in late October on the back of an ultraconservative program advocating looser gun laws, traditional family values and a strong military.
Read more: Is Brazil turning into a military state?
tj/rc (AP, AFP, Reuters)