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 PompeoTrump administration combining Palestinian mission, Israeli embassy next month: report The Hill's 12:30 Report: Sanders set to shake up 2020 race The Hill's Morning Report - Trump faces mounting challenges to emergency declaration 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) KhannaOvernight Defense: House votes to end US support for Saudis in Yemen | Vote puts Trump in veto bind | Survey finds hazards in military housing | Senators offer new bill on Russia sanctions House passes bill to end US support for Saudi war in Yemen Congress poised to put Trump in veto bind 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.