Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro taunted UN rights chief Michelle Bachelet Wednesday over her father’s death under 1970s Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet, sparking a new international row after she raised concerns over a spike in killings by police.
Fresh from a spat with French President Emmanuel Macron over his management of wildfires raging in the Amazon, Bolsonaro took aim at Bachelet for allegedly meddling in Brazil’s internal affairs by “attacking our courageous civil police and military.”
The leftist former Chile president was “following Macron’s line,” Bolsonaro tweeted, later taunting Bachelet by praising the Pinochet regime, under which both she and her father were tortured.
Bachelet had told a news conference in Geneva that her office was concerned by a hike in killings by police officers and by broader human rights restrictions in Brazil.
She said that in Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo alone, “1,291 individuals were killed by the police. It might be police action, but what I want to highlight is there is an increase from 12 to 17 percent compared to the same period last year.”
“In recent months, we have seen also a shrinking of civic and democratic space, highlighted by documented attacks against human rights defenders, restrictions on the work of civil society and attacks on educational institutions,” Bachelet said.
Bolsonaro’s harshest words for Bachelet came later, in comments to reporters outside his Brasilia residence.
Bachelet “is saying that Brazil is losing democratic space, but forgets that her country would be a new Cuba if it wasn’t for those who had the courage to curb the left, including her father -- a communist brigadier general -- in 1973.”