Trump to meet with Bolsonaro in boost to US-Brazil alliance

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President Trump will meet with Brazil’s “Trump of the Tropics” for the first time on Tuesday in a high-profile visit earning criticism from opponents in both countries.

Trump and Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro have had a close relationship since the latter was elected in October of last year. Bolsonaro’s right-wing, populist policies have led many to draw parallels between him and Trump, earning him the nickname “Trump of the Tropics.”

{mosads}A senior administration official said that the similarities between Trump and Bolsonaro provide an opportunity to create a “north-south axis of two largest economies in the western hemisphere.”

The two men in a press conference after the meeting on Tuesday will likely position themselves as allies in the fight against socialism in both countries and around the world. 

The official said the meeting between the two leaders “is historic in all proportions because it’s no longer what the potential of the U.S.-Brazil relationship could be: it’s about what the U.S.-Brazil relationship is.” 

The two countries have not maintained very close relations over the last few decades, as Brazil’s leaders chose to ally themselves with the region’s leftist bloc led by Venezuela and Cuba.

However, since the impeachment of former President Dilma Rousseff in 2016, Brazil has moved further to the right, a shift typified by Bolsonaro’s election.

In Tuesday’s meeting, part of the first bilateral overseas visit of Bolsonaro’s presidency, the presidents are expected to cover a wide range of issues where the two leaders have similar positions, including Venezuela, trade relations and China.

The two leaders have recently allied in trying to force Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro out of office. 

Trump and Bolsonaro have publicly recognized National Assembly leader Juan Guaidó as the interim president of Venezuela and have ratcheted up pressure on the Maduro government.

Brazil has allowed the U.S. to preposition aid to Venezuela along its northern border, which has resulted in Maduro shutting down that border, further isolating the socialist leader.

Bolsonaro, known as an economic nationalist, has also demonstrated some openness to improved commercial relations with the United States.

The two are likely to sign off on the Technology Safeguards Agreement, which would allow U.S. companies to launch rockets from Brazil, according to the official.

Trump and Bolsonaro will also likely discuss trade relations with China. Both leaders believe that their trade relationships with China display an “inherent structural unfairness,” according to the official.

Bolsonaro’s visit has been criticized by many both in the U.S. and Brazil. 

Protesters in Washington, D.C., on Sunday condemned the “horrible politics of division” of both leaders and warned against strengthening ties between the two countries.

Criticisms of Bolsonaro include that he has praised Brazil’s former military dictatorship, advocated for torture, threatened to jail political opponents and criticized women and the LGBTQ community.

The Brazilian president’s unannounced visit to the CIA on Monday also drew the ire of his opponents back home, who see it as his bowing to U.S. power.

“No Brazilian president had ever paid a visit to the CIA,” Celso Amorim, who served as foreign minister under former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, told The Associated Press. “This is an explicitly submissive position. Nothing compares to this.”

Tags Donald Trump Jair Bolsonaro Venezuela
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