Brazil’s Bolsonaro and the Future US-Brazil relations
Written by Jeff Bates
Fighting Fernando Haddad for the Presidency, Jair Bolsonaro won the presidency of Brazil and has filled that office since January. His election surprised many Brazilians and outsiders. Judged as a homophobic, misogynist, and a no-nonsense speaker, he is strongly allied with President Trump on many issues (Carneiro, Julia; Fagundez, Ingrid. 2019). In recent years, Brazil has been suffering from major corruption problems in the government. Bolsonaro claims that he will fix these problems, and echoing Trump’s campaign slogan, Bolsonaro promises to make Brazil ‘great again’. Bolsonaro wants to put the ‘old’ Brazil behind him and build Brazil up into a powerful country. As Bolsonaro competes with China, moves its embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, and exits the Paris climate agreement, the government of Brazil will likely find favor with the White House, and economic and political ties will be greatly strengthened. Brazil will expectedly become a strong base for US foreign policy to proliferate throughout South America.
Despite Bolsonaros promises of a corruption free Brazil, his sons have come under scrutiny. In an act of Nepotism, Bolsonaros has lifted his sons to high political positions within the country. Flavios, his eldest son and a senator, has been caught in a series of money-laundering schemes. Federal prosecutors are now opening a probe about these schemes in which nearly $7 million was laundered. Flavios’s history already has a bad past. In March 2018, Marielle Franco, a Rio De Janeiro councilor, was murdered and when police arrested members of a Rio hit squad, an individual employed by Flavios was among those arrested (Euan, Marshall. 2019).
Carlos, his second son, is considered to have nearly the same influence in presidential affairs as Bolsonaros’s own Secretary General. Bolsonaro’s dreams of removing the Brazilian Supreme Court were echoed by his third and youngest son, Eduardo, who spoke at a lecture before Brazilian federal police cadets where he demeaned the country’s highest court, saying that it would only take a “soldier and a corporal” to get rid of the Brazilian Supreme Court. (Euan, Marshall. 2019).
Politically, Bolsonaro is being cautious with China. China has bought out several energy and public service companies in Brazil, and Bolsonaro says that he is going to end this and make China pay for Brazil’s exports. Bolsonaro believes that the US and Brazil can work together as partners to diminish Chinese influence in South America.
Unlike former presidents of Brazil who have traditionally distanced themselves from the US, Bolsonaros’s team seems bent on becoming close allies. US Senator Marco Rubio has encouraged the White House to have close relations with Brazil. He says that Brazil should be supported in joining the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) by increasing bilateral trade and investments. He argues that this will help stabilize Brazil’s deteriorated economy. Additionally, Rubio stated that the US and Brazil can cooperate with energy and tech know-how to help other South American nations end their dependence on Venezuelan oil (Ammachchi, Narayan. 2019).
Although corruption still permeates Brazilian politics and Bolsonaro expresses extreme far right views, Bolsonaro is likely to make strong ties with the US economically and politically, which will expectedly allow for US regional security in South America in the foreseeable future.