Brazil's Bolsonaro takes aim at communist Cuba

Brazil's Jair Bolsonaro, the conservative former military man painted by the press as a madman, "Tropical Trump," and all that, is showing signs of a strategic mindset.

In his first noticible foreign policy move, he's threatened to just shut down ties with Cuba. According to Reuters:

BRASILIA (Reuters) - Brazilian far-right president-elect Jair Bolsonaro said there was no point maintaining diplomatic relations with Cuba because it trampled on human rights and there was no business to be done with the communist-run island.

In an interview published on Friday by Correio Braziliense newspaper, Bolsonaro criticized the Mais Medicos (More Doctors) program under which 11,420 Cuban doctors work in poor or remote parts of Brazil.

He said that 75 percent of the doctors’ salaries was paid to Cuba’s government and their children were not allowed to join them in Brazil, citing the case of a doctor whose three young children had to stay in Cuba.

“That is just torture for a mother,” Bolsonaro said. “Can we maintain diplomatic relations with a country that treats its people that way?”

Seems family separations, something the Democrats have a big cow about, aren't such a big deal when Castro does it.

The Miami Cubans over at Babalu blog, as you can imagine, are pleased. Alberto de la Cruz wrote:

If you wondered why leftists hate Brazil’s Jair Bolsonaro so much, this is one of the reasons.

What a move like this would show is two things: One, ties with Cuba are a waste of time, given that Castro doesn't allow private business to flourish, the communist regime doesn't believe in paying bills and as a result, the country doesn't have money. It's a permanent freeloader state, in search of a patron.

And two, Bolsonaro seems very serious about improving ties with the U.S. by pitching Cuba overboard as useless. In past administrations in Brazil, leaders such as Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva (pictured with Castro in the mobile-phone image above), have always chosen Cuba as a useful stick to beat Uncle Sam with, and at Uncle Sam's expense. Sticking it to Cuba instead of Uncle Sam is a shift in strategy indeed.

Up until now, socialist-run Brazil has had an unusually warm alliance with Cuba, politically through its affinity-parties club known as the Sao Paulo Forum, a collection of ruling lefty parties in love with Castrodom around the continent.

As the Reuters report states, the Cubans have famously sent their doctors, apparently to work in poor areas, which Brazil pays the Cuban government handsomely for, yet as Bolsonaro noted, the doctors themselves don't get paid much for. Plenty of them are spies, and the rest are undercutting real doctors' wages in the country. Brazil is perfectly capable of supplying its own doctors to poor areas, yet the Castroite ones imported from Cuba at starvation wages likely put the Brazilian ones, who must live in Brazil and work for market wages, at a disadvantage.

Third, the Castroites have been caught red-handed meddling in Brazil's elections, with a $3 million secret campaign donation to elect leftists in 2005, uncovered by Veja magazine.

As I wrote at the time when I was at IBD:

Latin America: Brazilians are rightly angry over allegations of illegal campaign donations from Fidel Castro. True or not, they coincide with an alarming weakness in foreign policy that benefits the Cuban dictator.

Was there a connection? We wonder for two reasons. First, Castro in recent years has aggressively sought influence across Latin America on a scale not seen since the 1960s. Second, Brazil has been oddly passive in response.

...and...

Did Castro's campaign contributions, reported in Veja news magazine and said to total $3 million, end up compromising the foreign policy of President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva's administration?

We don't know. But if Castro's cash bought anything in Brazil, it's tragic because Lula was elected president as an un-Castro— a clean, responsible democratic leader. Brazilians hoped he'd be neither a corrupt machine pol nor a hard-core communist.

If a couple of influential aides took money from Castro and enacted a passive foreign policy, it paints a very different picture — what old Soviet analysts used to call Finlandization.

Bolsonaro, who's been around the political block as a two-plus decades-back-bench congressman, would know about that.

What we are seeing now is a strong move to walk back the lovefest with Cuba, which the United States this week has identified as ground zero of all the bad regimes plaguing Latin America. Countries such as Venezuela, Nicaragua, Bolivia and Ecuador are all the handiwork, the puppet-states, in varying degrees, of the communists running Cuba.

Brazil might just put a stop to that - with Bolsonaro freeing Brazil first.

Image credit: Antônio Milena/Agência Brasil, via Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 3.0

Brazil's Jair Bolsonaro, the conservative former military man painted by the press as a madman, "Tropical Trump," and all that, is showing signs of a strategic mindset.

In his first noticible foreign policy move, he's threatened to just shut down ties with Cuba. According to Reuters:

BRASILIA (Reuters) - Brazilian far-right president-elect Jair Bolsonaro said there was no point maintaining diplomatic relations with Cuba because it trampled on human rights and there was no business to be done with the communist-run island.

In an interview published on Friday by Correio Braziliense newspaper, Bolsonaro criticized the Mais Medicos (More Doctors) program under which 11,420 Cuban doctors work in poor or remote parts of Brazil.

He said that 75 percent of the doctors’ salaries was paid to Cuba’s government and their children were not allowed to join them in Brazil, citing the case of a doctor whose three young children had to stay in Cuba.

“That is just torture for a mother,” Bolsonaro said. “Can we maintain diplomatic relations with a country that treats its people that way?”

Seems family separations, something the Democrats have a big cow about, aren't such a big deal when Castro does it.

The Miami Cubans over at Babalu blog, as you can imagine, are pleased. Alberto de la Cruz wrote:

If you wondered why leftists hate Brazil’s Jair Bolsonaro so much, this is one of the reasons.

What a move like this would show is two things: One, ties with Cuba are a waste of time, given that Castro doesn't allow private business to flourish, the communist regime doesn't believe in paying bills and as a result, the country doesn't have money. It's a permanent freeloader state, in search of a patron.

And two, Bolsonaro seems very serious about improving ties with the U.S. by pitching Cuba overboard as useless. In past administrations in Brazil, leaders such as Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva (pictured with Castro in the mobile-phone image above), have always chosen Cuba as a useful stick to beat Uncle Sam with, and at Uncle Sam's expense. Sticking it to Cuba instead of Uncle Sam is a shift in strategy indeed.

Up until now, socialist-run Brazil has had an unusually warm alliance with Cuba, politically through its affinity-parties club known as the Sao Paulo Forum, a collection of ruling lefty parties in love with Castrodom around the continent.

As the Reuters report states, the Cubans have famously sent their doctors, apparently to work in poor areas, which Brazil pays the Cuban government handsomely for, yet as Bolsonaro noted, the doctors themselves don't get paid much for. Plenty of them are spies, and the rest are undercutting real doctors' wages in the country. Brazil is perfectly capable of supplying its own doctors to poor areas, yet the Castroite ones imported from Cuba at starvation wages likely put the Brazilian ones, who must live in Brazil and work for market wages, at a disadvantage.

Third, the Castroites have been caught red-handed meddling in Brazil's elections, with a $3 million secret campaign donation to elect leftists in 2005, uncovered by Veja magazine.

As I wrote at the time when I was at IBD:

Latin America: Brazilians are rightly angry over allegations of illegal campaign donations from Fidel Castro. True or not, they coincide with an alarming weakness in foreign policy that benefits the Cuban dictator.

Was there a connection? We wonder for two reasons. First, Castro in recent years has aggressively sought influence across Latin America on a scale not seen since the 1960s. Second, Brazil has been oddly passive in response.

...and...

Did Castro's campaign contributions, reported in Veja news magazine and said to total $3 million, end up compromising the foreign policy of President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva's administration?

We don't know. But if Castro's cash bought anything in Brazil, it's tragic because Lula was elected president as an un-Castro— a clean, responsible democratic leader. Brazilians hoped he'd be neither a corrupt machine pol nor a hard-core communist.

If a couple of influential aides took money from Castro and enacted a passive foreign policy, it paints a very different picture — what old Soviet analysts used to call Finlandization.

Bolsonaro, who's been around the political block as a two-plus decades-back-bench congressman, would know about that.

What we are seeing now is a strong move to walk back the lovefest with Cuba, which the United States this week has identified as ground zero of all the bad regimes plaguing Latin America. Countries such as Venezuela, Nicaragua, Bolivia and Ecuador are all the handiwork, the puppet-states, in varying degrees, of the communists running Cuba.

Brazil might just put a stop to that - with Bolsonaro freeing Brazil first.

Image credit: Antônio Milena/Agência Brasil, via Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 3.0