Brazil's Bolsonaro hopes for Trump return at right-wing rally

FILE PHOTO: Brazil's former President Jair Bolsonaro attends an event at the Municipal Theatre in Sao Paulo

By Anderson Coelho

BALNEARIO CAMBORIU, Brazil (Reuters) -Brazilian far-right former President Jair Bolsonaro at a rally of conservative supporters on Saturday said the right was gaining ground internationally, in Italy and France, and said he hoped that former U.S. President Donald Trump will be returned to the White House this year.

"God willing, it will be Trump in November," he told a cheering crowd of 3,500 supporters at the CPAC Brasil 2024 event at the beach resort of Balneario Camboriu in Southern Brazil.

The event was intended to drum up support for Bolsonaro's party's candidates in this year's municipal elections and project his influence ahead of the 2026 presidential race.

The rally was billed as the first major opposition rally of the campaign for local mayoral elections in October.

"We want Bolsonaro back," chanted some at the event who want to see him back in power, although Bolsonaro has been banned from seeking elected office until 2030 for attacks on democracy.

Speakers attacked Brazil's current government of leftist President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, calling it corrupt. They advocated Christian pro-life family values and a ban on abortion in speeches that were pro-gun and anti-drug.

"It will be very important for us to once again bring together Conservatives with a liberal view of the economy to discuss the future of the right-wing in Brazil," said former environment minister Ricardo Salles on CPAC Brasil social media.

Former Chilean right-wing presidential candidate Jose Antonio Kast addressed the rally, and Argentina's libertarian president, Javier Milei, was expected to address the closing session on Sunday afternoon.

Bolsonaro lost his re-election bid to Lula in 2022 and has been banned from running for elected office until 2030 due to his attacks on Brazilian democracy and its electronic voting system.

Despite being under investigation for his alleged role in encouraging supporters to storm government buildings a week after Lula took office in January last year, Bolsonaro maintains a large following that share his right-wing views, which he successfully broadcasts on social media.

With funding from his right-wing Liberal Party, Bolsonaro draws crowds wherever he goes to back candidates for the upcoming local elections.

Guilherme Casaroes, a political scientist at the FGV think tank in Sao Paulo, said the presence of Milei and Kast shows that Bolsonaro and his political associates want Brazil to become a hemispheric hub for far-right coordination.

"The CPAC event will serve as a platform for Brazil's extremists to make their narrative global, building on the idea that conservatives across the hemisphere are being persecuted by left-wing governments and by authoritarian courts," he said.

(Writing by Anthony Boadle; Editing by Jacqueline Wong, Franklin Paul and Leslie Adler)