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Brazil's President Hasn't Congratulated Biden On His Election Victory

NOEL KING, BYLINE: A lot of world leaders have been congratulating the Biden campaign. We'll get to India in a few minutes. There's celebrating there. But in Brazil - radio silence. That country is led by the far-right populist President Jair Bolsonaro, who has been compared in some instances to President Trump. Here's NPR's Philip Reeves.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

PRESIDENT JAIR BOLSONARO: (Speaking Portuguese).

PHILIP REEVES, BYLINE: Bolsonaro openly rooted for Donald Trump in this election. Even in the final stages, he talked about going to Trump's inauguration.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

BOLSONARO: (Speaking Portuguese).

REEVES: That was a mistake, says Patricia Campos Mello, a columnist for Brazil's Folha newspaper.

PATRICIA CAMPOS MELLO: It's not even smart to just not hedge your bets at all, right?

REEVES: Trump and Bolsonaro have much in common. They're brash far-right populists who fire up their bases on social media with scant regard for facts. Trump's defeat means Bolsonaro has lost a powerful friend on the world stage. That will have an impact on Brazil, says Campos Mello.

CAMPOS MELLO: I mean, one thing is being you and the U.S. against the world. The other thing is just being you, Brazil.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

JOE BIDEN: Brazil - the rainforests of Brazil are being torn down, are being ripped out.

REEVES: Biden has made clear that, unlike Trump, his administration will confront Bolsonaro over the Amazon rainforest. Environmental groups are delighted. Adriana Ramos, coordinator of Brazil's Socio-Environmental Institute, says Biden's victory makes her feel...

ADRIANA RAMOS: Relief and happiness, relief and hope.

REEVES: Not so fast, says Brazilian Congresswoman Bia Kicis, a Bolsonaro supporter.

BIA KICIS: (Speaking Portuguese).

REEVES: She insists, without evidence, that Biden's election is still unconfirmed and says if he does become president, Brazil won't be threatened by him. "We're not just guardians of the Amazon," says Kicis.

KICIS: (Speaking Portuguese).

REEVES: "The Amazon is ours."

Bolsonaro's opponents now hope Trump's defeat means divisive far-right populism is in retreat. They're firing off tweets - #BolsonaroIsNext. Yet Bolsonaro's popularity has rocketed since the pandemic began despite the loss of 162,000 Brazilian lives. If Brazil held an election tomorrow, the Trump of the tropics would be the favorite.

Philip Reeves, NPR News, Rio de Janeiro. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.