Pompeo discusses cooperation with Brazil’s 'Trump of the Tropics'

Pompeo discusses cooperation with Brazil’s 'Trump of the Tropics'
© Anna Moneymaker

Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoOvernight Defense: Pentagon confirms North Korea weapons test | Air Force Academy no longer allowing transgender students to enroll | Trump officials clash over arms control report What must the leaders of Russia, China, North Korea be thinking? The Hill's 12:30 Report: Inside the Mueller report MORE on Monday discussed ways he plans to work with Brazilian president-elect Jair Bolsonaro, the controversial right-wing populist who won around 55 percent of the vote after a volatile and divisive presidential campaign. 

Pompeo in a phone call congratulated Bolsonaro on the win and discussed collaboration on issues including Venezuela, transnational crime and economic ties between "the two largest economies in the Western Hemisphere," State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said in a statement.

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The call comes days after a group of House Democrats penned a letter to Pompeo asking him to condemn Bolsonaro, who was then the front-runner for the presidency.

The lawmakers, led by Rep. Ro KhannaRohit (Ro) KhannaHillicon Valley: Washington preps for Mueller report | Barr to hold Thursday presser | Lawmakers dive into AI ethics | FCC chair moves to block China Mobile | Dem bill targets 'digital divide' | Microsoft denies request for facial recognition tech Lawmakers, tech set for clash over AI Trump vetoes measure ending US support for Saudi-led war in Yemen MORE (D-Calif.), raised concerns about the "rising threats to democracy, human rights and the rule of law in Brazil" connected to Bolsonaro.

The rise of Bolsonaro, a longtime congressman and former army official in Brazil, has raised alarms among critics and anti-fascists who claim he exhibits authoritarian tendencies. Bolsonaro infamously once said Brazil's former military dictatorship did not go "far enough" in their mass killings, and he has advocated for the use of torture.

“It is incumbent upon you and other spokespeople for our government to condemn all political violence and take a strong stand in opposition to such backsliding; leaving clear that U.S. assistance and cooperation with Brazil is contingent on the upholding of basic human rights and democratic values by its leaders," the House Democrats wrote to Pompeo.

Bolsonaro, nicknamed "Trump of the Tropics" due to his nationalist views, has also faced multiple charges and fines over his hate speech toward LGBTQ, black and indigenous Brazilians. He has called for parents to beat their gay children and proudly said that he is homophobic. 

Trump on Sunday night also congratulated Bolsonaro with a phone call, vowing to work side-by-side with the president-elect.