US President-elect Joe Biden on Friday appointed Juan Gonzalez as senior director for the Western Hemisphere at the National Security Council – meaning he will be responsible for Latin American affairs.
Gonzalez criticizes the environmental agenda of the Jair Bolsonaro government (without a party), and the candidate’s previous statements show that the issue may lead to conflict in relations between the United States and Brazil.
In an interview with the Washington Post in October, he said that “in any relationship Biden has with leaders around the world, climate change will be at the top of this agenda, and that includes Brazil.”
“Anyone who thinks they can foster an ambitious relationship with the United States while ignoring important issues like climate change, democracy and human rights clearly did not hear Joe Biden during the campaign,” he said. he declares.
Born in Colombia and raised in New York City, Gonzalez was director of the National Security Council for Latin America issues between 2011 and 2013, under the government of Barack Obama, of which Biden was deputy.
In an article published in the Americas Quarterly magazine in July, Gonzalez said that “relations between Brazil and the United States have enormous potential under the Biden government,” but questioned whether “Brazil’s current leadership is ready to meet the monumental challenges of our time “. .
This is not the first time that Biden has appointed someone who does not look good on Brazil to compose his government. In December, he chose Deb Haaland, a lawmaker who has repeatedly opposed Bolsonaro’s US-Brazil accords to be secretary of the interior.
Possible tensions between governments have already arisen, even before the result of the American elections. During the first presidential debate with Donald Trump, then a candidate for re-election, Biden said that “the rainforest in Brazil is being destroyed.”
He said he could impose sanctions on Brazil and mobilize up to US $ 20 billion (108.4 billion reais) to help protect the Amazon. At the time, Bolsonaro called the speech regrettable.
Democrats, especially those in the more progressive wing of the party, have previously criticized various aspects of the Bolsonaro government, particularly those related to human rights and environmental policy issues.