Jair Bolsonaro’s Meeting with Donald Trump Promises Little of Substance | Wilson Center

Jair Bolsonaro’s Meeting with Donald Trump Promises Little of Substance

Jair Bolsonaro’s meeting with Donald Trump promises little of substance
Mutual admiration will outweigh practical results
President Jair Bolsonaro’s working visit to Washington next week is supposed to catapult Brazil-US relations to new heights. The meeting of the Brazilian and US presidents is likely to be celebratory. Mr Bolsonaro is a declared admirer of President Donald Trump, and managed to beat experienced adversaries in October’s presidential race after embracing the US leader’s template of rightwing populism energised through the use of social media.
There is plenty of room for improvement in the bilateral dialogue between the two largest nations in the Americas, which has been amicable but shallow and mostly inconsequential for the past two decades. Ernesto Araújo, Brazil’s foreign minister, who described Mr Trump’s brand of nationalism as the last best hope to save the Christian west from “cultural Marxism”, declared in December that “the sky is the limit” in Brazil-US relations.
However, heavy political clouds in both countries have obscured the path forward. Assuming Mr Trump is re-elected next year and assuming the Brazilian Congress enacts the ambitious liberal economic agenda proposed by Paulo Guedes, Brazil’s economy minister, the Bolsonaro-Trump meeting could mark the beginning of an economic and political transformation in Brazil. But neither is assured. Mr Trump could lose his re-election bid in 2020 and leave his Brazilian colleague a political orphan.


Paulo Sotero, Director of the Wilson Center’s Brazil Institute, has covered the evolution of his native Brazil and U.S.-Brazilian relations for nearly forty years as an award-winning journalist and analyst. 
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