Elon Musk called the takeover of Twitter a “breath of hope” as Brazilian President Zaire Bolsonaro met in Brazil on Friday, hoping the US billionaire would help end the “lies” about his widely criticized leadership of the Amazon Rainforest.
Bolsonaro and Musk, CEOs of electric car maker Tesla and rocket company SpaceX, met to discuss rural Internet connectivity and Amazon’s oversight. This meeting comes at a sensitive time for both.
Bolsonaro faces a high-profile battle for re-election in October and has become increasingly lonely on the world stage, while Musk has been accused of sexual harassment in a news report on Thursday – which he has denied.
Bolsonaro, a militant nationalist, has blasted major social media platforms for their efforts to combat misinformation, including removing his baseless comments linking the Kovid-19 vaccine to the development of AIDS. Musk, known as the “Legend of Liberty” by Bolsonaro, vowed to defend freedom of speech on Twitter.
Bolsonaro was condemned worldwide for his support of more mining and agriculture on the Amazon and for Brazil’s environmental decline. Recent satellite data show that the Brazilian Amazon’s deforestation has reached a 15 – year high under Bolsonaro.
Speaking with Musk at a high-end hotel in a rural area near So Paulo, Bolsonaro hailed the billionaire’s bid for Twitter, saying “it’s like a breath of hope.”
“Elon Musk needs to let Amazon know Brazil and everyone in the world, and we hope to show how we’ve preserved it and how much harm is being done by those who spread lies about the region,” he told a news conference.
Later, at a press conference without Musk, Bolsonaro talked about meeting a US billionaire. “It’s the beginning of a relationship, I’m sure it will end with marriage soon,” he said.
Musk’s Twitter acquisition “represents the freedom of the press that we have always wanted and wanted, absolute freedom without limits,” Bolsonaro said.
Bolsonaro said the Alcantara space base in Brazil, near the equator, was being made accessible to Musk rockets.
Musk tweeted Friday afternoon that he aims to further monitor the rainforest and discuss efforts to bring broadband Internet to rural areas – a plan he had previously discussed with members of the Bolsonaro government.
After arriving in Sవోo Paulo, Musk did not ask about allegations of harassment, where he was also greeted by business dignitaries such as Telecom Italia chief executive Pietro Labriola and Banco BTG Pactual chairman Andre Steve.
Musk’s meeting with Bolsonaro, a longtime conservative firebrand who defended Brazil’s 1964-1985 military dictatorship, marks the right flow of his personal politics. On Wednesday, he said he had previously voted for Democrats but would now vote for Republicans.
Musk’s visit to Bolsonaro is a public relations uprising, with international observers worried that he could refuse to hand over power if he loses the October election.
Bolsonaro lost a friend when former US President Donald Trump lost his 2020 re-election bid and has not spoken to US President Joe Biden since Democrats took office.
© Thomson Reuters 2022