Brazil’s Bolsonaro apologizes amid ‘pedophilia’ row

RIO DE JANEIRO: President of Brazil Jair Bolsonaro apologized on Tuesday after he visited a group of teenagers he referred to as sex workers who had been accused of “pedophilia” by protesters.
Struggling for re-election in the October 30 run against veteran leftist Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, the far-right president has been caught in a firestorm because of his remarks about underage Venezuelan girls. minor, whom he called “very beautiful”.
“If my words, taken out of context with malicious intent, were somehow misinterpreted or offensive to our Venezuelan sisters, I apologise,” Bolsonaro said in a posted video. online.
“My commitment has always been to welcome and better support all those fleeing authoritarian regimes anywhere in the world,” he added, standing next to his wife and representatives of the faction leader. Venezuelan opposition Juan Guaido in Brazil.
Bolsonaro recognizes Guaido as the legitimate leader of Venezuela, instead of the socialist President Nicolas Maduro.
The controversy erupted Friday when Bolsonaro spoke in a YouTube interview about visiting the home of “three or four very beautiful 14 or 15-year-olds” last year in a poor neighborhood in Brasilia.
“There’s a vibe between us. I turned. ‘May I come into your house?’ I went inside. There were 15 or 20 girls (in the house), all Venezuelans aged 14, 15, getting ready on Saturday. Why? To make a living,” he said.
This anecdote appeared to serve as one of Bolsonaro’s frequent warnings that Brazil would suffer the same fate as crisis-torn Venezuela if it elected Lula.
But Bolsonaro found himself on the defensive after Lula’s allies attacked the comments as “deplorable” and the hashtag #Bolsonaropedofilo (Bolsonaro pedophilia) went viral online.
His campaign succeeded on Sunday in a petition to the election authorities to ban an offensive ad based on excerpts from the interview.
But Bolsonaro said the day before was “the most terrible thing in my life.”
In an interview on Tuesday, Lula said Bolsonaro’s behavior “was that of a pedophile.”
“He figured it out, that’s why he got scared and tried to explain himself as quickly as possible,” Lula said.
Following Bolsonaro’s apology, at least two other videos in which the president told similar anecdotes about the girls were shared online.
Rosangela da SilvaLula’s wife tweeted an excerpt of another interview with Bolsonaro a month ago in which he hinted that the girls were prostitutes.
In May, Bolsonaro also passed on the anecdote during an event that was broadcast on public television.
“Is that what we want for our daughters and granddaughters?” he say.
Bolsonaro, who vehemently rejects criticism of the opposition, said in Tuesday’s video that his former women’s minister, Damares Alvesinvestigated the girls’ cases “almost immediately” and discovered they were not in fact prostitutes.
He said Alves and First Lady Michelle Bolsonaro visited the girls on Tuesday and “found them rebuilding their lives (and) even helping other Venezuelan refugees find work and integrate.” in Brazil, home to about 260,000 Venezuelan refugees, migrants and asylum seekers.
The Folha de Sao Paulo newspaper reported that Venezuelan teenagers and their mothers had refused a request from Bolsonaro’s campaign to film a video on behalf of the president.


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