Sao Paulo, May 20 (EFE).- Elon Musk was a surprise guest Friday at a gathering of business executives hosted by right-wing Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, who praised the world’s richest person as a “legend of liberty” and said that the extension of the mogul’s Starlink satellite network to Brazil would help combat “lies” about the state of the Amazon under his administration.
The Tesla founder announced during the event at a resort in Sao Paulo state that the Starlink net would make broadband internet accessible to 19,000 schools in remote rural areas of Brazil.
The satellites can also be used to improve monitoring of the Amazon rainforest, Musk said a few months after Brazil’s Anatel telecom regulator authorized Starlink to operate in the giant South American nation.
“We need, and are counting on, Elon Musk for the Amazon to be known by all in Brazil and the world, to show … how we have protected it, and how much harm is caused by those who spread lies about that region,” Bolsonaro said.
The president bristles at criticism of his pro-business policies in the Amazon, where the rate of deforestation has reach record levels amid a rollback of environmental enforcement.
Musk’s visit to Brazil comes a month after he launched his $44 billion bid for Twitter, which Bolsonaro described Friday in glowing terms.
“For us here it was like a breath of hope,” the president said, without mentioning his own battles with social media platforms that took down Bolsonaro posts about non-existent links between Covid-19 vaccines and AIDS.
The South African-born billionaire has indicated that had he been in charge, Twitter would not have shut down the account of US then-President Donald Trump in January 2021.
“His presence here is something spiritual,” Bolsonaro said of Musk. “Today, we could call him legend of liberty.”
Bolsonaro, a vocal admirer of Brazil’s 1964-1985 military regime, is running for a second term in the October election, but polls show him trailing far behind two-term former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva. EFE as/dr