Brazil’s Bolsonaro sparks outrage over obscene carnival video on Twitter

REUTERS/Ueslei Marcelino | Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro reacts during a press statement near Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido after a meeting in Brasilia, Brazil February 28, 2019.

Brazil's far-right President Jair Bolsonaro was at the heart of a firestorm of criticism Wednesday after tweeting obscene footage of a man urinating on another in what he said was proof of the debauchery of the country's annual carnival.


The new president, frequently criticised for remarks disparaging women, gays and blacks, posted footage of a street party in which a man wearing a jockstrap dances on what appears to be the top of a bustop. At one point, the man urinates on another man to whoops from the crowd.

Bolsonaro posted it as a way of denouncing what he sees as the moral degeneracy in the country.

"I don't feel comfortable showing it, but we have to expose the truth so the population can be aware and always set their priorities. This is what many street carnival groups have become in Brazil," the president told his 3.4 million Twitter followers.

Local media said the video was filmed at a street party, or bloco, in Sao Paulo.

The video quickly racked up 2.43 million views after the former army officer posted it, widening divisions in an already polarised country.

One of the main hashtags trending on Twitter was #ImpeachmentBolsonaro, while another was #BolsonaroTemRazao, or "Bolsonaro is right." A third top hashtag was #goldenshowerpresident.

As denunciations lit up the Internet, the president followed up with another tweet that asked, "What is a golden shower?" The term is used to describe a sexual fetish.

Some critics denounced the president for using an isolated scene to attack the country's wildly popular annual carnival, which this year has been used as a platform by many to protest Bolsonaro's intolerance towards minorities.

Others, including some on the right, said posting such footage was below the dignity of his office, and had spread the video to a wider audience, including children.

‘You need medical help urgently’

"Bolsonaro, my six-year-old granddaughter saw this scene on Twitter, just like millions of other kids whose parents follow you on Twitter," said TV journalist Fabio Pannunzio. "I'd like to know how the president of the republic can explain to them what they have just seen," he said, before adding: "You need medical help urgently".

Leftist lawmaker Marcelo Freixo answered Bolsonaro’s tweet with a video of a happy young girl dancing on her father’s shoulders, saying, “Life is made of choices. I chose this beautiful image as a symbol of the joy, the feast, the hope, and the country that I want.”

Others jumped in to defend Bolsonaro, arguing that children shouldn't be allowed on Twitter anyway and that the president was just showing how debased carnival celebrations had become.

Some users said they were reporting the Brazilian president's post for allegedly violating Twitter's rules, but the post remained on Bolsonaro's timeline Wednesday afternoon. Twitter said in a statement that any violations of its content rules were "subject to appropriate measures" but declined to say whether the post constituted a violation.

Stoking culture wars

The tweets underscored one of the tactics that helped get Bolsonaro elected: stoking culture wars. He was elected last year in large part due to the support of the country's powerful Evangelical community, promising to crack down on the corruption that has decimated Brazil's political and business elite, and to get tough on a sky-high murder rate.

But Bolsonaro’s attack on the carnival might also be a response to the increasingly politicised messages at the annual festivities this year. Some of the themes chosen by samba schools for  the 2019 carnival included Bolsonaro's polarising election and the 2018 murder of Rio councilwoman Marielle Franco, a gay and black rights activist whose murder remains unsolved.

Party-goers across the country have launched protests against the president, including a chanting crowd that formed outside his Rio home during street celebrations this week.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP, AP and Reuters)

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