Nearly 55 years after the CIA backed a coup d’état that overthrew Brazil’s democratically-elected government, the nation’s right-wing President Jair Bolsonaro raised eyebrows on Monday with an unusual and unannounced trip to the spy agency’s U.S. headquarters.
Bolsonaro is officially in town to meet with President Donald Trump on Tuesday, the Brazilian’s first bilateral meeting with a head of state since taking office in January. His visit to CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia was revealed by his son, Eduardo Bolsonaro, in a tweet on Monday morning.
Eduardo, who is a member of Brazil’s congress and accompanied his father on the visit, said in Portuguese: “Going now with the PR @jairbolsonaroe ministers to the CIA, one of the world’s most respected intelligence agencies. It will be an excellent opportunity to talk about international issues in the region with technicians and experts of the highest caliber.”
As Reuters reported:
The visit underscored Bolsonaro’s embrace of U.S. influence in Latin America to confront what he calls a communist threat against democracy—a theme he remarked on during a dinner on Sunday evening with his ministers and right-wing thinkers.
Presidential advisers, including his official spokesman, had said during the dinner that his agenda on Monday morning would be kept private.
Bolosnaro’s justice minister, Sérgio Moro, came along for the trip to the agency, but members of the media were not allowed inside, according to The Associated Press.
“No Brazilian president had ever paid a visit to the CIA,” Celso Amorim, a Bolsonaro critic who served as foreign minister under former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, told the AP. “This is an explicitly submissive position. Nothing compares to this.”
Bolsonaro has been widely criticized for targeting the human rights of vulnerable populations, pushing to privatize public services, and turning over the Amazon to powerful agribusinesses.