Latin America & Caribbean

Blank-page book on Brazil's Jair Bolsonaro goes viral

Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro gives a thumbs up during a ceremony in Brasilia Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Mr Bolsonaro, who took office in January, is a deeply divisive figure in Brazil

A 190-page book on why Brazil's far-right President Jair Bolsonaro "should be respected and trusted" has gone viral on social media after it emerged 188 of its pages are blank.

The author said it was a "protest" to force people to "come up with their own answers" on the controversial leader.

In a few hours more than 200 reviews were posted on the book's Amazon page.

Most of them praised the initiative but a few said they had been misled. The author said nobody had bought the book.

After it went viral online, a warning saying "Attention: satirical book" was added to its description on Amazon and the book was listed as unavailable, O Globo newspaper reports (in Portuguese).

Mr Bolsonaro, who came to power in January, is a deeply divisive figure who has made racist, homophobic and misogynistic remarks. In recent weeks, he has been internationally criticised for the increasing deforestation of the Amazon rainforest.

The president, a former army captain and congressman, has not commented on the book.

The author, 30-year-old Willyam Thums from the southern city of Porto Alegre, described the book Why does Bolsonaro deserve respect and trust? as an "answer to the question that hasn't silenced Brazil".

"It's a protest," he told Veja São Paulo website (in Portuguese). "The idea is to not give any answer as I think Bolsonaro doesn't deserve anything."

On the two pages where there is text, Mr Thums describes the book as the "result of countless hours of work" offering an "exclusively impartial" view about the "undeniable merits" of Mr Bolsonaro.

He said he was inspired by a similar book about US President Donald Trump.

Image copyright Amazon
Image caption The author said nobody had bought the book

The book had gone unnoticed until Wednesday, Mr Thums said, when it began being widely shared on social media. Most of the reviews posted on Amazon supported the initiative.

"Congratulations to the author over his hard work," said one user. Another said: "It's the best and most comprehensive analysis about the person who is changing the country."

Some, however, disagreed. One said it was "sad... that serious people were wasting time and money". Another user said the book had been bought for a doctoral research and that its description had "misled readers".

But Mr Thums - a PhD student in comparative literature in the US - disputed this. "No-one has ever bought this book."

Amazon did not comment on the case but said customers had up to 30 days to return products and ask for a refund.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption There have been protests against Mr Bolsonaro but he still is very popular among his supporters

Mr Bolsonaro was elected last year promising to be tough on crime and corruption and to revive the economy. But critics and even some of his supporters have expressed doubts about his ability to lead Latin America's largest democracy.

The economy is still struggling and his policies are seen as a key reason behind the rising deforestation of the Amazon and violence against indigenous communities.

In recent weeks, he has faced allegations of nepotism, which he denies, amid his attempts to appoint his own congressman son, Eduardo, as ambassador to the US.

Despite some recent anti-government protests, including against a controversial pension reform and education budget cuts, Mr Bolsonaro remains very popular among his supporters.

The president has celebrated efforts to approve the reform he says is vital to the country's growth and has dismissed criticism over his Amazon policies. After accusing Brazil's national space institute of lying about the scale of deforestation, he fired the institute's head.

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