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Italians protest against village's decision to grant Brazil's Jair Bolsonaro honorary citizenship

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By Euronews  with AFP
Italian Partisans Association activists march with a banner reading "Bolsonaro out".
Italian Partisans Association activists march with a banner reading "Bolsonaro out".   -   Copyright  AP Photo/Luca Bruno

Hundreds of people have protested in Italy against a local village's decision to grant honorary citizenship to Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro.

Around 200 people rallied in the northeastern town of Anguillara Veneta, where Bolsonaro's ancestors were from.

The decision for the Brazilian President to become an honorary citizen of the village has been opposed by left-wing parties and trade unions.

Demonstrators -- including local Democratic Party councillor Andrea Zanoni -- gathered in the rain on Monday near Venice, holding banners and signs reading "Anguillara loves Brazil but not Bolsonaro".

The entrance to the town hall in Anguillara Veneta was also vandalised.

Bolsonaro has been internationally criticised for his environmental policies and response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

"It is right that he should visit the city where his family comes from," said Antonio Spada, another local councillor.

"But it is not right that he should be presented as a model to be followed by granting him honorary citizenship," he told AFP.

"Bolsonaro has pursued an anti-Covid policy based on denial and against the vaccine, which has only led to thousands of deaths," added Arturo Lorenzoni, spokesperson for the opposition in the Veneto regional council.

Luca Bruno/AP
Jair Bolsonaro greets his supporters as he arrives in Anguillara Veneta.Luca Bruno/AP

The Brazilian president, who has come to Italy to attend the G20 summit in Rome, attended the award ceremony at the town hall in person. But he decided to miss the COP26 climate conference in Glasgow for the ceremony.

At the end of the 19th century, an estimated 1,000 Italian citizens -- including Bolsonaro's ancestors -- left northern Italy for Brazil due to poverty.

The Brazilian president had said that he would meet with more of his Italian relatives after the award ceremony.

Bolsonaro's supporters also attended the citizenship ceremony in Anguillara Veneta, some waving Brazilian flags.

Alessandra Buos, the far-right Lega mayor of Anguillara Veneta has defended her decision to award Bolsonaro honorary citizenship, stating that the title refers to "the people he represents" and not to him as a person.

Additional sources • ANSA