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What about human rights? US Democrats fault Pompeo for hailing new Brazil leader

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By Agence France-Presse

US Democratic lawmakers voiced dismay Wednesday to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo over his effusive praise of Brazil’s new right-wing President Jair Bolsonaro, saying he should have emphasized human rights.

Pompeo last week flew to Brazil to attend the inauguration of Bolsonaro — whose years of caustic remarks have drawn comparisons to US President Donald Trump — and vowed a close relationship, speaking of a “truly transformative opportunity for our two nations.”

In a letter to Pompeo, six Democratic lawmakers said they were “puzzled” by his tone, saying that Bolsonaro’s “worrisome past statements on human rights are no longer confined to rhetoric.”

They pointed to Bolsonaro’s early actions since taking office, including stripping a government agency of the right to demarcate indigenous lands and removing protection of gay rights from the remit of the human rights ministry.

The lawmakers — who include Eliot Engel, the new chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and David Cicilline, co-chair of a caucus that promotes LGBT rights — said the United States must be “speaking out when the rights of any marginalized group are jeopardized.”

“We urge you to stand with the people of Brazil and the Americas and stay true to your stated commitment on human rights in Brazil by opposing President Bolsonaro’s recent actions,” they wrote.

Bolsonaro has emerged as a rare world leader in broad agreement with Trump’s worldview, sharing his skepticism on climate change, unease with international organizations and staunch support of Israel.