‘Trump of the Tropics’ Visits White House
The leaders of the Western Hemisphere’s two largest economies are pledging closer trade ties, as well as enhanced military cooperation.
“Brazil and the United States have never been closer than they are right now,” U.S. President Donald Trump told his Brazilian counterpart during an Oval Office meeting on Tuesday.
Jair Bolsonaro said he had come to Washington to inaugurate a new era of cooperation “after decades of anti-U.S. presidents in Brazil.
Bolsonaro was recently elected as his country’s president and is known as the ‘Trump of the Tropics’ for his far-right agenda of cracking down on crime and corruption and nostalgia for Brazil’s era of military dictatorship.
“We do have a great deal of shared values. I do admire President Trump,” he said.
Prior to taking questions from reporters, the two exchanged soccer (football) jerseys during the Oval Office meeting.
“Whether it’s NATO or it’s something having to do with alliance,” the United States is looking at enhancing its military relationship with Brazil, Trump said in response to a reporter’s question.
“We have many things Brazil would like and we’re working on those things,” added Trump, noting efforts to enhance trade “in both directions.”
The two leaders are also discussing their mutual support for Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido, who has been recognized as Venezuela’s legitimate leader by most Western countries, including the United States and Brazil.
Trump said he knows what he wants to see happen in Venezuela but is not going to reveal it.
“We don’t want to say exactly” but, “all options are on the table. It’s a shame what’s happening in Venezuela,” said Trump, noting death, destruction and hunger in the South American country under the leadership of Nicolas Maduro who remains in power in Caracas.
Just ahead of the meeting between the two leaders, the United States and Brazil signed an agreement to support American space launches from Brazil. The State Department says the pact will ensure the proper handling of sensitive U.S. technology consistent with U.S. nonproliferation policy, the Missile Technology Control and U.S. export control laws and regulations.
Brazil announced on Monday that it would waive visa requirements for visitors traveling from the United States to Brazil but Washington is not expected to immediately reciprocate that gesture.
The two countries have never had particularly close relations with Brazil traditionally wary of American influence in Latin America. But now their two leaders find themselves in sync on concerns about the Maduro regime in Venezuela, Cuba’s involvement in that country and the threat from China’s rising influence on domestic politics in South and Central America.