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Foreign Policy

Bolsonaro gives Biden an olive department

At the virtual climate summit hosted by Washington this week, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro adopted a conciliatory tone with the Biden government, a sign of two of the largest countries in the western hemisphererelationship was finally able to stabilize after the Brazilian head of state refused for weeks to recognize the election of US President Joe Biden.

Brasília’s new approach, including admitting the Biden government’s calls for increased action on climate change, which pledges to be carbon neutral and to eradicate illegal deforestation 10 years ahead of schedule, is a belated recognition of the American partnershipCentralitysaid former officials and foreign policy experts. This is an abrupt U-turn for a Mercury leader who saw a kindred spirit in former US President Donald Trump.

“On the Brazilian side, there was this realization that just because the United States wants to work with Brazil doesn’t mean the United States is desperate to work with Brazil,” said Anya Prusa of the Brazil Institute at the Wilson Center.

Trump and Bolsonaro shared a populist tendency, but former officials and U.S. diplomats have long hoped the relationship would be based less on personal relationships and more on strong defense and economic ties – regardless of who is in power. In recent years, Brasília and Washington have worked together on a variety of fronts, from military partnerships that have sent hundreds of Brazilian soldiers trained in the United States to regional efforts to resolve the political crisis in Venezuela. Before Trump’s loss, Bolsonaro even managed to conclude a mini-trade deal with his US counterpart.

But the relationship‘s The design has changed, and Biden has threatened more than once to stop dealing with Bolsonaro if the Brazilian leader doesn’t change his rhetoric and take practical steps to combat climate change. Although Trump saw Brazil as a possible South American bulwark against China and a regional ally that could put pressure on Venezuela, the Biden team is trying to boost Brazil, one of the world’s largest greenhouse gas emitters, as deforestation continues to increase in the Amazon rainforest. regaining its role as a regional leader in the field of climate change. And Bolsonaro, who has been hit by bad news lately, seems to be playing along: he is giving in to some U.S. calls for more ambitious climate change measures that were once considered a non-starter, a sign of more flexibility on the part of the contested populist.

“What I think you are witnessing now is a repositioning of the government that was late in realizing the political realities in the United States,” said a former senior US diplomat. “That doesn’t mean that the government in Brasília has become anything else than it is. Bolsonaro is still a populist and a nationalist leader, but it shows greater pragmatism in trying to figure out where there are similarities. “

“Mr. Mr President, we could no longer agree with your call for ambitious commitments on the climate change agenda,” Bolsonaro said during the Biden climate summit on Thursday in a low-key speech that departed from his usual fiery oratorio. Biden later cited Brazil as one of the Countries that made “encouraging announcements” at the summit.

But many in Washington doubt Bolsonaro’s sincerity. A bilateral climate deal, due to be announced during this week’s summit, collapsed after nearly 200 Brazilian non-governmental organizations, backed by democratic lawmakers, urged Biden not to deal with the Bolsonaro government. In a letter to Biden earlier this month, the Democrats in Congress urged the United States to condition aid to move forward on deforestation and ending environmental crimes. Earlier this week, US climate commissioner John Kerry said Bolsonaro’s words should be accompanied by “immediate action.” This week, a dozen Brazilian and American personalities, including actors Leonardo DiCaprio and Jane Fonda, urged Biden to refuse to sign environmental deals with Bolsonaro.

“The United States pledges to partner with Brazil to fight climate change and achieve ambitious goals,” said Todd Chapman, the US ambassador to Brazil, following Bolsonaro’s speech on Twitter, adding it was at the Time to “lead by example”. ”

But although the Brazilian head of state seems to be pushing for common ground, there is a catch: Bolsonaro has agreed to curb illegal deforestation in the Amazon rainforest by 40 percent, but only if the US and the international community raise at least a billion dollars in aid Brazil. In 2019, Germany and Norway stopped funding billions in the Amazon rainforest in response to Bolsonaro’s failed response to deforestation.

Even if Biden has postponed the relationship to focus on climate change rather than competing with China, some in Brazil fear that Washington Brasília might turn a blind eye to sustaining a decades-old partnership.

In recent months, Bolsonaro has not only tried to fill the armed forces and police with loyalists, but has also fought several times before the Supreme Court. Last week, the president replaced the superintendent of the largest Amazonian state, the Amazon, after the official asked the Supreme Court to open an investigation into Bolsonaro’s environment minister for alleged environmental crimes related to illegal logging.

“In the United States, there is a perception that democracies are only threatened if the countries are aligned with China and Russia,” Celso Amorim, who served as foreign and defense ministers under three Brazilian presidents, told foreign policy. Bolsonaro’s efforts “to destroy not only institutions but also democratic values ​​are very strong,” he said.

But in Washington, the Biden administration does not appear to want to endanger what has traditionally been one of its most important ties in Latin America via Bolsonaros Peccadillos at home.

“Americans understand pretty well that today’s Brazilian foreign policy is very much geared towards them. They are pragmatic, ”said Mariana Kalil, professor of geopolitics in Brazil‘s War College, adds that they will tolerate it as long as the Bolsonaro administration “stays in line with Washington and doesn’t overly disregard human rights or commit ecocide.”

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