"Why all that pressure on my son?" Asked the head of state to journalists as he left the presidential palace Thursday and when asked about his decision last week to appoint his Senator son, Eduardo, ambassador to Washington.
"Is he competent, or is he not competent? Several countries have made political moves for diplomatic positions, and in Brazil this is also legal," added the president, who denied to reporters the potential appointment, which has to pass Congress, is an act of nepotism.
Bolsonaro tried to defend his suggestion, saying that former legislator, Tilden Santiago, a co-founder of the Workers' Party (PT), was appointed as Brazil's ambassador to Cuba after losing in the polls last decade.
"Tilden Santiago did not get reelected in 2002, and he was sent as ambassador to Cuba and nobody said anything," Bolsonaro said.
The head of state insisted that his son, 35-year old Eduardo who has been a member of the nation’s Congress since 2015, is legally able to serve as a diplomat because Brazilian law doesn’t prohibit politicians from being appointed to diplomatic positions.
Beyond that, says Bolsonaro senior, the appointment would be “convenient” because of his third son’s good relationship with members of the President Donald Trump administration.
"What’s the impediment? There is none. In addition, (this appointment) serves the public interest because what is the role of an ambassador? Is it not to have a good relationship with the head of state of the country where he is? This seems obvious," declared President Bolsonaro.
Eduardo chairs the Foreign Relations Committee of the lower house where he serves. When Bolsonaro first made the announcement last week, the president told reporters his son had counselled him several times on international affairs since being inaugurated in January.
The spokesman of the Brazilian presidency, General Otavio Rego Barros, says the paperwork for the appointment is already in motion. Brazil’s ambassadorial post in Washington has been vacant since April when ambassador Sergio Amaral, in the position since 2016, was transferred to Sao Paulo.
At that time, Bolsonaro brought home ambassadors from 15 countries due to the "bad image" the country was suffering abroad, said the president. The head of state said he was being presented outside the country "as a dictator, racist and homophobic" without the respective "defense" of Brazilian diplomats.