Brazil's Lula congratulates Biden, President Bolsonaro silent

Mr Lula, a hero of the Latin American left during his presidency (2003-2010), said Americans had voted "against Trumpism and all it stands for". PHOTO: REUTERS

SAO PAULO (AFP) - Brazilian ex-president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva said on Saturday (Nov 7) the world was "breathing a sigh of relief" at Mr Joe Biden's victory in the US presidential election, while current President Jair Bolsonaro, a fervent Donald Trump backer, remained conspicuously silent.

Mr Lula, a hero of the Latin American left during his presidency (2003-2010), said Americans had voted "against Trumpism and all it stands for".

"I welcome Biden's victory and express my hope that he will be guided by the humanist values that marked his campaign, not only domestically but in his relations with Latin America and the world," tweeted the 75-year-old former metal worker, whose legacy has been tarnished by what he calls spurious corruption charges since leaving office.

His fellow leftist successor, Ms Dilma Rousseff, who was impeached in 2016, said Mr Biden's victory "represents an encouragement for those, in the world, that fight against the extreme right, intolerance and hate".

Writing on Twitter, Ms Rousseff, who was Brazil's first female president, also congratulated Ms Kamala Harris for becoming the first black woman to be US vice-president-elect.

Mr Bolsonaro, a far-right leader sometimes called the "Tropical Trump", meanwhile drew criticism in some quarters for failing to join the flood of world leaders sending their congratulations to Mr Biden.

He published several Twitter posts and took part in his usual Facebook Live video without mentioning the US election.

Mr Bolsonaro, 65, openly cheered Mr Trump's re-election bid, and lashed out at Mr Biden during the campaign.

When the former US vice-president said in his first debate with Mr Trump that the United States needed to push Brazil to better protect the Amazon rainforest, Mr Bolsonaro fired back that the statement was "disastrous and unnecessary".

"What a shame, Mr John Biden!" he said, mistaking the former vice-president's first name in the English version of his tweet.

His silence after Mr Biden emerged as president-elect did not go unnoticed.

"World leaders congratulate Biden on his victory, but Bolsonaro has yet to comment," underlined one article in leading newspaper Globo.

Some Brazilian media reports, citing government sources, said the Bolsonaro administration did not plan to recognise Mr Biden's win until the various legal challenges Mr Trump has threatened to wage played out in court.

Mr Trump alleges the election was "rigged", though he has provided no concrete evidence and analysts say he will struggle to make his case in court.

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