President Bolsonaro shocks with Brazil ‘golden shower’ tweet

Bolsonaro's (above) tweet was intended to draw outrage at how vulgar the holiday has become, but ignited a firestorm from critics.
Bolsonaro's (above) tweet was intended to draw outrage at how vulgar the holiday has become, but ignited a firestorm from critics.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

RIO DE JANEIRO (AFP, REUTERS) - Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has sparked shock and outrage by tweeting a video showing one man urinating on another during his country’s massive annual street carnival.

“What is a golden shower?” Mr Bolsonaro tweeted on Wednesday, a day after posting the video in which a barely dressed party-goer writhes atop a bus shelter, plays with his behind, and then bends over before another man urinates on his head.

“I do not feel comfortable showing this, but... this is what many of the street parties in Brazil’s carnival have turned into,” Mr Bolsonaro tweeted about the video, which local media said was filmed at a Sao Paulo street party, or bloco.

A former army captain, Mr Bolsonaro was elected in 2018 as the head of a right-wing government after years of stirring controversy with homophobic, misogynistic and racist comments.

It remains to be seen whether he will face consequences over the posts. Leftist lawmaker Paulo Teixeira said on Twitter he would ask prosecutors to investigate whether Mr Bolsonaro had broken privacy laws.

A screenshot of the men in question from the video sent out on Twitter by Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro. SCREENSHOT: TWITTER

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.

Critics said Mr Bolsonaro’s tweets showed he was more focused on riling his progressive critics than building consensus in Congress for necessary reforms, such as an overhaul of the country’s Budget-busting pension system.

In a statement, Brazil’s presidency defended Mr Bolsonaro for posting a video that it said scandalised the whole country.

“There was no intention to criticise the carnival in a generic way, but rather to characterise a clear distortion of its spirit,” it said.

Brazil’s most famous carnival celebrations take place in Rio de Janeiro, where Mr Bolsonaro was a federal congressman for nearly three decades.

This year’s carnival has become increasingly politicised in the wake of Mr Bolsonaro’s election and the 2018 murder of Rio councilwoman Marielle Franco, a gay and black rights activist whose murder remains unsolved.

Rio’s Mangueira samba school, which placed commemorations of Franco at the forefront of its parade, on Wednesday was announced as the winner of the carnival’s annual competition, ensuring her legacy would live on and adding to the politicised atmosphere.

Last week, the president jeopardised pension reform negotiations crucial to Brazil's economic recovery when he told reporters at a breakfast meeting that he would be willing to lower the age at which women could retire, contradicting his economic minister's long-standing position in the debate and irking his congressional allies.

Brazil's stock market fell nearly 2 per cent on the news and Bolsonaro's Cabinet decided to limit the president's ability to speak on the topic, according to local reports.

That same week, he revoked a job offer his justice minister had extended to political scientist Ilona Szabo after receiving backlash from his supporters on Twitter.

Mr Bolsonaro's opposition in Congress has seized upon these decisions to argue that he is unfit for office.

"Bolsonaro's tweets are, from start to finish, incompatible with the position he occupies. A president has the obligation to act with a minimum amount of decorum. He shows a lack of poise and responsibility. He is completely out of touch with reality. It is unacceptable."