BRASILIA (Reuters) – Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, a close ally of Republican President Donald Trump and one of the few prominent world leaders still not to have congratulated Democratic President-elect Joe Biden on his election win, asked on Thursday whether the vote in the U.S. was really over.
Talking to supporters outside his official residence, Bolsonaro was asked what he thought of the American election result.
“But has it finished, have the elections already finished?,” he asked the supporter, breaking into a smile before posing for selfies.
The Brazilian leader, who had vowed to be the first to congratulate Trump on his re-election, is approaching a week without passing on congratulations to Biden, who has been projected to win the majority of both the popular and electoral vote.
The Brazilian leader’s posture could herald a rocky start in relations with Biden, whose agenda with Brazil would likely include addressing Amazon deforestation and human rights.
On Tuesday, he also took a swipe at Biden referring to him as a “candidate” and taking issue with a comment Biden said during a U.S. presidential debate that Brazil should fight deforestation with foreign help or face unspecified “economic consequences.”
“We saw recently there a great candidate for head of state say that if I don’t put out the fire in the Amazon, he will put up commercial barriers against Brazil,” Bolsonaro said.
“And how can we deal with all that? Just diplomacy is not enough … When saliva runs out, one has to have gunpowder, otherwise it doesn’t work.”
(This story was refiled to add political parties)
(Reporting by Ricardo Brito, Writing by Stephen Eisenhammer; Editing by Aurora Ellis)