BRASILIA (Reuters) -Brazilian Conservative ideologue Olavo de Carvalho, who was President Jair Bolsonaro’s political guru, died on Monday night at a hospital in Richmond, Virginia in the United States, his family said on his social media accounts. He was 74.
The Folha de S. Paulo newspaper reported that Carvalho was diagnosed with COVID-19 on Jan. 15, citing a group of his followers on social media.
Bolsonaro, a far-right former army captain, on Tuesday decreed a national day of mourning for Carvalho.
A self-promoted philosopher, author and anti-Communist political pundit, Carvalho believed George Soros, Facebook and China were all part of a globalist conspiracy. He once claimed that Pepsi used the cells of aborted fetuses as sweetener.
He moved to the United States in 2005 after the leftist Workers Party won Brazil’s presidency, and he gave online philosophy classes to his followers back home, championing individual rights and Christianity.
Often seen in a cowboy hat or smoking his pipe, Carvalho questioned global warming, played down the gravity of the coronavirus pandemic and, like Bolsonaro, was a vaccine-skeptic, which got him into trouble with social media platforms for spreading fake news.
PayPal blocked his account that had been used to receive donations from followers and payment for his courses.
His combative attacks on “cultural Marxism” and the growth of the state made him an icon of the Conservative movement that swept Bolsonaro to power in 2018.
“Olavo was a giant in the fight for freedom and a beacon for millions of Brazilians,” Bolsonaro posted on Twitter, calling him “one of the greatest thinkers in our country’s history”.
In recent months, as Bolsonaro made concessions to traditional centrist politicians to block impeachment attempts, Carvalho became critical of the president, saying he had failed in the fight against communism.
A pinned tweet on Carvalho’s social media account encapsulated his political views: “Capitalism is the godfather and protector of communism. The war is not between capitalism and communism, it is between CHRISTIANITY and communism.”
(Reporting by Anthony BoadleEditing by Alexandra Hudson and Mark Heinrich)