Delta Air Lines has rescinded its sponsorship of an event to honor the Brazilian President.
Jair Bolsonaro, the bombastic newly-elected President of Brazil, has been called the “Trump of the Tropics” and was elected by a wave of populist sentiment. Bolsonaro has pledged to strengthen ties with the United States, already acting on his word in announcing that U.S. citizens will no longer need visas for tourist travel to Brazil effective June 17, 2019.
For his “strongly-stated intention of fostering closer commercial and diplomatic ties between Brazil and the United States,” Bolsonaro is being honored with the Person of the Year Award by the Brazilian-American Chamber of Commerce on May 14th in New York City.
So why has Delta suddenly pulled out of sponsoring the event?
Bolsonaro is not just a populist. He has also expressed vitriolic remarks against women and homosexuals and has favored public policy that reduces protection of the Amazon rainforest and indigenous peoples.
Such views have led to LGBTQ and environmental activist groups to urge sponsors to pull out. Already, The American Museum of Natural History in Manhattan pulled out of hosting the event. The award ceremony will now take place at the Marriott Marquis in Manhattan. It’s not a stretch to assume that Delta also faced such pressure.
Delta’s Political Tightrope
This is hardly Delta’s first time embroiled in political turmoil. The carrier promptly eliminated discounts for the National Rifle Association in the aftermath of the Parkland, Florida school shootings. That, in turn, almost cost Delta its lucrative fuel subsidies in the State of Georgia. Delta has also effusively praised President Trump concerning issues of protectionism and Open Skies and spoken out against a religious liberty bill in Georgia.
What we see once again is that Delta, like other major companies, simply cannot avoid politics. This comes as no surprise in an era in which inaction is viewed as best as tacit approval. Delta clearly did not want to be linked to Bolsonaro. There is no other viable explanation.
As I have argued before, Delta is free to take any position it wishes…that it is its prerogative. I do wonder why Delta tries to hide from them, though. It should own up to its viewpoints and explain why it suddenly pulled out an event that still counts companies like Bank of America, Citigroup, JPMorgan, and Marriott as sponsors.
image: Senado Federal / Flickr