Jair Bolsonaro sounds "illiberal" charge at the opening of the UN General Assembly

The Brazilian president on Tuesday attacked untruths about the Amazon and said leaders of Indigenous Peoples, like Chief Raoni, were "manipulated by the stranger."

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Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro on September 24 at the UN. Seth Wenig / AP

The tradition is well anchored: since 1946 and the first General Assembly of the United Nations, then in London, the speech of the representative of Brazil opens the session, just after that of the Secretary General. With his invective and his chauvinistic flights, pronounced before the representatives of the 193 members of the United Nations, including 136 heads of state and government, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro sharply decided on the rather consensual statements of his predecessors. His first words, Tuesday, September 24 in New York, were "To thank God for being alive," implicitly evoking the knife attack of which he had been a victim a few weeks before his election. Then he immediately proclaimed "Want to restore the truth about Brazil, which is reborn after having brushed against socialism".

Mix of rodomondades and confused digressions, his speech sought to denounce the agents of the Cuban regime in Venezuela as in the rest of the subcontinent. He repeated obvious untruths about the Amazon, which belongs to Brazil – "Our huge forest, great like Europe and perfectly preserved" – and stated that the summer fires were caused by weather and local farming practices.

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Emmanuel Macron referred

"The attacks of the international media have only strengthened patriotism", launched the former military, denouncing those who "Behave in a disrespectful and colonial way, attacking our sovereignty", without citing any particular country, even if it meant, in the first place, French President Emmanuel Macron, who has made the preservation of the Amazon a priority since the G7 Biarritz.

Thanking Donald Trump for his support, Jair Bolsonaro said leaders of Indigenous Peoples like Chief Raoni are "Manipulated by the stranger". "Radical ecology and outdated conceptions only further marginalize indigenous peoples," he said insuring that"A nation has the right to feed itself and that France, like Germany, devote 50% of their territory to agriculture, and that 61% of the Brazilian territory is preserved".

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The law of the strongest

The tone was given. The 74e UN General Assembly shows the reality of a world where "illiberal democracies", "democracies" and populist leaders of all kinds are on the rise. Just after the Brazilian president came the turn of Donald Trump, then in the same inaugural morning on Tuesday, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sissi and his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan followed one another. Their speeches expressed in all their obviousness these new realities of a world threatened by chaos, the return of nationalisms and policies of power, even by the law of the strongest.


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