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Delta Won’t Participate In Event Honoring Brazil’s Controversial President

By Victoria M. Walker

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Delta Air Lines has said that it will not sponsor an event honoring Brazil President Jair Bolsonaro, according to CNN.

Bolsonaro will be honored at the Brazilian-American Chamber of Commerce Gala Dinner in Manhattan on May 14, but he’s a controversial figure both in Brazil and the United States.

“The choice of President Bolsonaro,” the Brazilian-American Chamber of Commerce wrote on its website, “is a recognition of his strongly stated intention of fostering closer commercial and diplomatic ties between Brazil and the United States and his firm commitment to building a strong and durable partnership between the two nations.”

Bolsonaro swept to power in January, and since then he’s made supporters and enemies with his brash, crude speech. He’s been criticized on a number of issues, including his staunch opposition to LGBTQ rights. The New York Times reported that Bolsonaro once said that he would “rather his son die in a car accident than be gay,” and that he was “proud to be homophobic.”

He has said that he finds female children “a weakness,” told a female lawmaker that he wouldn’t rape her because she was not “worthy of it,” and said that he would roll back environmental protections for indigenous Brazilians, according to the Times.

Bolsonaro has also said that Afro-Brazilians are not owed reparations because “the blacks themselves turned over the slaves.” He has also indicated that he would roll back affirmative action protections that benefited black and indigenous Brazilians. Over 97 million Brazilians, just over half of the population, identified as black or mixed-race in the 2010 census.

Marriott International, which is hosting the event, is facing calls to cancel the event but has said that it will not.

“Diversity and inclusion are part of the fabric of our hotel’s culture and operations. We have welcomed all for over 90 years and focused on putting people first. We are required by law to accept business even if it conflicts with our values,” a Marriott spokesperson told CNBC.

“Acceptance of business does not indicate support, or endorsement of any group or individual,” the spokesperson continued.

Delta hasn’t released a public statement on the cancellation, according to CNN.

Another business, Bain & Company, told CNN that it would also pull out of the event. “Encouraging and celebrating diversity is a core Bain principle,” Bain said in a statement provided to CNN. NBC News reported that the Financial Times also pulled out of the event.

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Victoria M. Walker

Victoria M. Walker is an award-winning multimedia journalist and full-time lecturer in the Department of Media, Journalism, and Film at her alma mater, Howard University. She was previously the breaking news and viral content video editor at The Washington Post.

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