The laughter and the applause could be heard all the way down the hall, where the press had been instructed to stay. Loud, spontaneous outbursts of glee that came in waves — one after another — over the course of 90 minutes.
The speaker: Jair Bolsonaro, the radical firebrand running for president in Brazil. The venue: BTG Pactual’s annual conference in the heart of the Sao Paulo financial district. Attending the lunchtime speech were some of the best and brightest from the country’s top financial firms. Currency traders and stock analysts and investment bankers.
Off the record, attendees beamed as they recalled how Bolsonaro’s biggest applause lines came from insults directed at the much despised former president, Dilma Rousseff, and promises to crack down on rampant crime in the slums. On the record, though, they said next to nothing. No one would publicly acknowledge they were pleased by the former army captain and his tough-guy speech.