Miami politicians, quite reasonably, do not like communists.
But Miami Mayor Francis Suarez apparently has no problem with raging right-wingers who hate LGBTQ people, heap praise on dictatorships, defend Hitler admirers, deny climate change, threaten indigenous territories, and tell a woman she's too ugly to rape.
If you're thinking that sounds like the president of the United States, you're not too far off. Jair Bolsonaro, the president of Brazil, has been dubbed "Trump of the Tropics."
Today Bolsonaro will attend an international business conference hosted by the Piquet Law Firm, the United Nations Association - Brazil, and Fórum das Américas, a Brazilian think tank, at the InterContinental Miami. Suarez is expected to honor Bolsonaro at the conference.
Suarez will make opening remarks, an event schedule shows. It's unclear what honor the mayor will bestow upon Brazil's leader. Suarez has previously given keys to the city to people who probably shouldn't have them, including Tony Robbins, the self-help guru accused of sexual harassment and groping by fans and former staffers. At the time, Suarez said his decision to honor Robbins was based "solely on his decades of serving as a positive force."
As for Bolsonaro, Suarez says meeting with people who are publicly scrutinized doesn't equate to an endorsement of their views or actions.
"Miami and Brazil have enjoyed a long-lasting fruitful partnership fueled by trade and investment," Suarez wrote in an emailed statement to New Times. "This relationship has transcended into a personal one, represented by the thousands of Brazilians who call Miami home and who are our neighbors. President Bolsonaro's visit is a testament to that partnership.
"As Mayor, it's my job to receive heads of state and other public officials. All public figures are properly subject to scrutiny and criticism, and all elected leaders have supporters and critics. Meeting with them does not constitute an endorsement of all their views and actions. It is simply a recognition of the special relationship that exists between the people who freely elected us to represent them."
Tropical Trump ate dinner with Regular Trump at Mar-a-Lago Saturday night. Sunday, Bolsonaro met with the head of U.S. Southern Command in Doral. Yesterday he talked about boosting Brazil's economic relationship with the United States during a seminar at the Hilton Miami Downtown and later went to the Miami Dade College Medical Campus to meet members of the Brazilian community. Today he'll meet with more business leaders at the InterContinental to talk investments and economic innovation.
On Twitter, Miami activist and documentarian Billy Corben called the billing "a new low" for Suarez.
"This is a new low for corrupt disgrace @MiamiMayor: he's honoring authoritarian racist homophobic Hitler-loving climate change-denying rainforest-burning Brazilian president," Corben wrote. "Shame on @InterConMIAMI for hosting this hate rally. I'd say shame on @FrancisSuarez but he has no shame."
On the conference agenda is a discussion of the Amazon rainforest as "nature's pharmacy." Since becoming president, Bolsonaro has rolled back protections of the Amazon and opened the rainforest for commercial exploitation. He reportedly also supported a misinformation campaign about widespread fires in the Amazon.
Last year, Suarez traveled to Brazil and met with Bolsonaro at Planalto Palace, the president's workplace. In a video posted on Planalto's YouTube, Suarez says he and the president discussed their "many different areas of commonality," such as their respective countries' proximity to communist nations.
"We have seen that ideology, which is a fraudulent ideology, that has enslaved so many people and hurt so many people throughout the world," Suarez says in the video. "And that's something that we both have in common that we have to fight, as a city and as a country, in common with our Brazilian friends."
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At the time of Suarez's visit, Bolsonaro was lobbying for one of his sons, Eduardo Bolsonaro, to be appointed Brazil's ambassador in Washington, D.C. Eduardo Bolsonaro is close to Steve Bannon and became the leader of the Brazil chapter of the Movement, Bannon's right-wing populist group that promotes nationalism.
Prosecutors in Brazil tried to block the appointment, and Eduardo Bolsonaro eventually gave up the bid. Nevertheless, Suarez said that "we would open our arms" to having Bolsonaro's son as the ambassador.