VERIFY: Jair Bolsonaro is the President of Mexico

The Washington Post falsely claimed that Jair Bolsonaro is the President of Mexico. In fact, Bolsonaro is the President of Brazil. Andrés Manuel López Obrador is the President of Mexico.

Background: In October 2020, President of the United States Donald Trump was hospitalized after being diagnosed with the novel coronavirus.

The Claim: In an 2 October 2020 article in the Washington Post, reporter Rachel Lerman explains her belief that Trump will continue using Twitter during his hospitalization.

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Similarly, Mexico President Jair Bolsonaro continued tweeting through his brush with the virus in July, announcing in a tweet when he finally tested negative.

Is Jair Bolsonaro the President of Mexico, or, as Lerman put it, “the Mexico President?”

Investigation: Since 1864 The Statesman’s Yearbook has been the definitive guide to the politics of the world. We began by checking the 2020 edition  of this regarded desk reference to determine if Jair Bolsonaro was “the Mexico President” [sic] as the Washington Post claimed. According to it, the President of Mexico in 2020 is Andrés Manuel López Obrador. Jair Bolsonaro, meanwhile, is the President of Brazil.

To corroborate the information gleaned from The Statesman’s Yearbook, we next checked the official website of the Brazilian presidency which also listed Jair Bolsonaro as that nation’s incumbent head of state.

Finally, we contacted the Embassy of Mexico in the United States. A spokesperson in the Press and Media Office of the embassy confirmed to us that Jair Bolsonaro was not her nation’s president, as the Washington Post claimed. That the President of Mexico was, in fact, Andrés Manuel López Obrador.

Rating: Clearly the Washington Post did not embark on a campaign to deceive the public as to the office held by Jair Bolsonaro. However, it’s also clear this was not simply a typo. The Washington Post hired a reporter unaware of  basic current events and then assigned her to write a story on basic current events. What’s more, it apparently also hired an editor to review her work who was similarly oblivious. How many more staff at the Washington Post who write about politics and government lack even a high school understanding of those subjects?

To be clear, we’re not talking about the misidentification of the deputy trade minister of Vanuatu. Brazil is the second most populous nation in the Western Hemisphere and Jair Bolsonaro has been the subject of singular fascination by the world’s media and the focus of relentless reporting and daily headlines. So too, in fact, has Mexican president Obrador. It is concerning when those who lack the most elementary knowledge of the world around them are elevated to the role of arbiters of truth and fact.

The claim that Jair Bolsonaro is the President of Mexico is FALSE.

Status: JournaFact contacted the Washington Post. Without acknowledging our email, it quietly  published a labeled correction within 72 hours of making the false claim. 

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