During the first high-level contact between the governments of Jair Bolsonaro and Joe Biden, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ernesto Araújo, met on Thursday morning (11) with the United States Secretary of State, Antony Blinken.
The phone call was requested by the Foreign Office, which is seeking to open a dialogue with the new American authorities – many of whom criticize Bolsonaro.
According to the interlocutors, the subjects discussed by the two authorities were regional cooperation, actions to fight the Covid-19 pandemic and environmental conservation, among other points on the bilateral agenda.
Biden’s victory was a setback for Bolsonaro, who openly supported Donald Trump’s re-election in the White House race.
The Brazilian leader was one of the last to congratulate Biden on the victory, and within days of his inauguration he made statements disapproved of by American allies.
Bolsonaro repeated Trump’s accusations – without evidence – that there had been fraud in the US election. On another front, Ernesto called the pro-Trump protesters who invaded the US Congress “good citizens.”
However, after Biden took office, the tone of the Brazilian government changed and Bolsonaro began to send signs of conciliation and moderation.
On the day of his inauguration in the United States, the President of Brazil addressed a letter to Biden in which he defended partnerships between the two countries “in favor of sustainable development and environmental protection”.
“We are also ready, in addition, to continue our partnership in favor of sustainable development and the protection of the environment, in particular of the Amazon, on the basis of our recently opened Environmental Dialogue. I note, by the way, that Brazil has demonstrated its commitment to the Paris Agreement with the presentation of its new national goals, ”Bolsonaro wrote.
The focus on the theme was no accident, as diplomats predict that Biden should put heavy pressure on Brazil on sustainability issues. The American has placed the issue as a priority and has appointed John Kerry, former presidential candidate and former secretary of state, as his special climate envoy.
Among Democrat Party politicians, Bolsonaro is seen as a leader of authoritarian tendencies that has no commitment to preserving the Amazon.
At the end of January, Ernesto also sent a message to Blinken. In correspondence, the Chancellor highlighted the agenda and the common interests between the two countries in areas such as economy, trade and environment.
The Secretary of State is the head of US diplomacy and the post has functions similar to that of Minister of Foreign Affairs in Brazil.
Itamaraty’s concern is to prevent the differences of opinion between the Bolsonaro and Biden administrations from leading the Brazilian government to lose dialogue with Washington.
The president’s aides know that sectors of civil society critical of Bolsonaro are trying to engage in dialogue with the Biden administration.
In early February, a document prepared by university professors and directors of international NGOs was handed to members of the American administration. The report defends the freezing of agreements, negotiations and political alliances with Brazil while Bolsonaro is in the presidency.
In Itamaraty, the case was treated as a proposal worked out outside the US government, but it reinforced the need to bring the Bolsonaro government’s arguments to Washington.
A close advisor to Biden, Blinken was confirmed in office by the Senate on January 26.
Experts stress that the agenda of US diplomacy must focus on relations with China and Russia, in addition to rapprochement with traditional allies in Europe. But Brazil was recently the subject of a speech by White House press secretary Jen Psaki.
She was asked about the report produced by the NGOs, but pointed to the business partnership between the United States and Brazil.
“We remain firmly committed to a meaningful economic relationship. We are [os EUA] by far the largest investor in Brazil, including many of the most innovative and growth-oriented Brazilian companies. And we will continue, in the months to come, to strengthen our economic ties and to increase our great commercial relationship, which continues to expand, ”he said.