It was one of the most anticipated meetings of the day. On one side, the host of the summit, President Joe Biden. On the other, the controversial Jair Bolsonaro, who landed at the Los Angeles meeting without hiding his preference for Donald Trump. The Brazilian was one of the last to recognize the triumph of the current inhabitant of the White House in the 2020 presidential elections. This Thursday, there could not be more distance between the leaders. Their half-hour bilateral meeting got off to a cold start. Nothing to do with the one that the American had had hours before with the Canadian Trudeau, who began with a “there is no better friend in the world than Canada”. In this one, on the other hand, there was no handshake before the cameras and there was hardly any eye contact between the two. Biden broke the ice by referring to the October elections in the South American country, which will pit Bolsonaro against Lula da Silva. “Brazil is a great place, because of its people and its vibrant inclusive democracy, in addition to its robust electoral institutions,” said the US president, who was last in the country at the 2014 World Cup.
Bolsonaro, who does not speak English, sought common ground. “We love freedom, we are Democrats and we share the same values,” he announced. But the history of the origin of this meeting casts doubt on this shared vision. The Brazilian only agreed to attend the Summit of the Americas after the American sent an emissary to Brasilia with the promise of a bilateral meeting. Washington needed important guests to save the summit after the string of cancellations caused by the exclusion of Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela. Bolsonaro accepted the invitation with the intention of taking advantage of the photo with the leader of the first power to proclaim that he is not an international pariah and boost his run for re-election.
“I came to office through the democratic path and I am sure that when I leave it will also be through the democratic path,” Bolsonaro told Biden. The Brazilian assured that his country wants to have “honest, clean, transparent and reliable” elections that leave no doubt about the result.
The Brazilian press assures that Bolsonaro had asked the organizers of the summit that Biden not talk about thorny issues: neither the environment and the Amazon, nor the Brazilian elections in October, about which the president does not stop sowing doubts. But the two issues came to the fore this Thursday, brought to the table by the controversial right-wing president, who was the one who spoke almost all the time during the meeting.
The Brazilian visited Vladimir Putin in Moscow on the eve of the Ukraine war. Today, before Biden, he has said that he prays for the conflict to end and the world “to return to normal.” He defended his decision not to join the almost unanimous condemnation of the West against the Russian invasion. “We always adopt a balance position. We want peace and we will always do everything possible to achieve it … but I have a country to manage and due to its dependence on some objects we must always be cautious, ”he has pointed out to Biden.
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He also spoke about the Amazon, whose deforestation has set off the alarms of the entire international community and has caused concern about its weight as the region’s lung. “It is an area larger than Western Europe. It has richness and biodiversity, mining resources, drinking water and is a source of oxygen. Sometimes we feel threatened our sovereignty in that area, but Brazil preserves its territory very well. More than 85% of the Amazon is preserved”, said Bolsonaro, who has assured that the nation he heads will become the largest exporter of clean energy thanks to hydrogen.
Hours before the meeting, Bolsonaro questioned the interest of the international community to defend the Amazon with international resources. “That is always talked about, but when it is time to put the money on the table, it is not put on the table,” the president told reporters who followed him from Brasilia.
The meeting was “exceptional,” according to Bolsonaro, who left the Convention Center with Washington’s support for Brazil’s candidacy to join the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). “Much better than he expected,” the president said Thursday afternoon. Biden has been in power for a year and a half and the Brazilian has bowed to reality despite the fact that until recently he continued to question the electoral result that removed Trump from the White House. “Now, the president is Joe Biden, he is the one I talk to. This issue is no longer discussed, ”he declared a day before being received by Biden.