Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro was greeted with cheers and boos when he visited a small Italian town on Monday to collect honorary citizenship.
Bolsonaro’s great-grandfather was born in Anguillara Veneta, a city of 4,200 inhabitants in the Veneto region. Tensions have been brewing since his far-right mayor, Alessandra Buoso, approved granting honorary citizenship to the far-right leader.
Last week, protesters spray-painted the wall of the city hall with the words “Bolsonaro Out,” while the bishop of nearby Padua described honorary citizenship as “a great disgrace.”
Bolsonaro came to Anguillara Veneta after attending the G20 summit in Rome, where he was filmed walking through the city’s cultural sites and tasting food.
He was greeted with cheers by supporters who had wrapped themselves in the Brazilian flag, while some 200 protesters carried banners that read: “Justice for the Amazon” and “No citizenship for dictators.” The visit comes days after Brazilian senators recommended that Bolsonaro face criminal charges for the more than 600,000 deaths from Covid-19 in the country.
Andrea Zanoni, an environmental councilor for the Veneto region for the center-left Democratic party, was among the protesters.
Zanoni called honorary citizenship an “incomprehensible choice” amid accusations of “crimes against humanity” against Bolsonaro and his “nefarious” handling of the pandemic.
“But not only that: Bolsonaro’s policies are a disaster for the planet,” Zanoni said. “He has rolled out the red carpet for the multinationals that are devastating the Amazon and dismantling environmental controls. Bolsonaro’s policies are dangerous not only for Brazil but for the entire world ”.
ANPI, an Italian anti-fascist organization, described the visit and citizenship as “shameful.”
Buoso, from the far-right Liga party, defended the decision, saying the move was not a vote on Bolsonaro’s policy, but rather a recognition of Italians who had emigrated to Brazil, such as Bolsonaro’s great-grandfather Vittorio, who was 10 years when his family emigrated. to Brazil.
The Italian press reported that hosting Bolsonaro and his entourage had cost the city council about 10,000 euros (8,500 pounds sterling).
Later, the police used water cannons to disperse 500 protesters who reportedly tried to break a security cordon in front of the Basilica of San Antonio in Padua, where Bolsonaro traveled after Anguillara Veneta.
Bolsonaro’s approval ratings have plummeted ahead of his 2022 re-election campaign, largely due to the death toll from coronavirus in the country, which is the second highest in the world. Last week, the Brazilian Senate committee formally approved a report asking prosecutors to try Bolsonaro on charges ranging from charlatanism and incitement to crime to embezzlement of public funds and crimes against humanity.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism