RIO DE JANEIRO, Oct.31 (Reuters) – Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro’s security services have reportedly used violence against Brazilian journalists covering his trip to Rome for the Group of 20 major economies meeting, local media reported on Sunday. .
The alleged attacks on Brazilian journalists, whom Bolsonaro has long accused of treating him unfairly and publishing fake news, capped a dark weekend for the far-right president. Videos of the G20 events showed him as an isolated figure, who was not part of the photo taken at the Trevi Fountain with world leaders. In the streets of Rome, he has come under heavy criticism for his handling of the country’s brutal pandemic, with critics calling him “genocidal”.
More than 600,000 people have died from COVID-19 in Brazil, the second-highest tally in the world after the United States. Bolsonaro has questioned the severity of the virus, avoided blockages, sowed doubts about vaccines and pushed for unproven cures. A Senate panel recommended that he be indicted for nine crimes related to his handling of the pandemic, including crimes against humanity.
O Globo newspaper reported that TV Globo broadcast journalist Leonardo Monteiro was punched in the stomach and pushed by Bolsonaro’s security after asking the president why he hadn’t attended any G20 events on Sunday. A video taken by UOL journalist Jamil Chade shows chaotic scenes with security guards hustling the press and Bolsonaro supporters chanting curses at journalists.
It was not clear whether the security guards were Brazilian or Italian. O Globo reported that the Italians had been tasked with ensuring the safety of Bolsonaro.
The president’s office did not immediately respond to requests for comment on the attacks or why he was missing from the leaders’ photo. The G20 press team also did not immediately respond to requests.
“Globo vehemently condemns the attack on his correspondent Leonardo Monteiro and other colleagues in Rome and demands a full assessment of responsibilities,” TV Globo said in a statement.
Videos of G20 events show Bolsonaro appears isolated.
The former army captain has seen his international support dwindle since former US President Donald Trump lost his candidacy for re-election, while Bolsonaro’s skepticism of COVID-19, vaccines and environmental concerns have him earned few friends on the world stage.
In a video taken by Jamil Chade, Bolsonaro is seen engaging in a conversation with Italian waiters as world leaders chat to each other in the other part of the room.
“This video of Bolsonaro walking alone in the G20 conference room, while other world leaders discuss, is painful to watch, but it reflects well the collapse of Brazil’s position in the world,” Oliver Stuenkel, professor of international relations at Getulio The Vargas Foundation, a Brazilian university, tweeted.
Reporting by Gabriel Stargardter; edited by Diane Craft
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