ROME (AP) — Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro as both cheered and jeered as he arrived on Monday in a small northern Italian town to receive an honorary citizenship and to visit one of his ancestors’ homes.
Protesters in Anguillara Veneta, a town of around 4,200 near Padua, chanted “No Bolsonaro” and held signs saying “Bolsonaro Out,” “Justice for the Amazon” and “No citizenship for dictators.” In contrast, jubilant supporters elsewhere wrapped themselves in Brazilian flags and held yellow and green balloons awaiting his arrival.
Anguillara Veneta’s right-wing mayor, Alessandra Buoso, defended the decision to grant Bolsonaro citizenship and blasted vandals who spray-painted “Foro Bolsonaro” (“Bolsonaro Out”) on the town’s city hall last week.
In a Facebook post, Buoso said the city council’s decision to grant Bolsonaro the honor was not a vote on his politics but a recognition of all the Italians who had emigrated to Brazil. But she said she was assuming the costs of the visit given the debate it had generated.
Bolsonaro was in Italy to participate in the Group of 20 summit of the world’s biggest economies, which wrapped up Sunday in Rome. He has been criticized for his handling of the coronavirus pandemic and his Amazon policies.