Jordan Fabian and Simone Iglesias, Bloomberg News
EnergiesNet.com 02 12 2023
President Joe Biden, meeting his Brazilian counterpart at the White House, said “democracy prevailed” in both the US and Brazil after severe attacks against its institutions.
“Both our nations’ strong democracies have been tested of late, very much tested, and our institutions were put in jeopardy,” Biden said Friday as he hosted Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva less than six weeks after his inauguration. “We have to continue to stand up for democracy, democratic values that form the core of our strength.”
The Oval Office sit-down was meant as a show of support for Brazil’s newly elected government and to demonstrate relations between the two biggest democracies in the Americas are back on track.
Biden, 80, and Lula, 77, are veteran politicians who share common progressive beliefs and have faced down similar challenges from their far-right predecessors on their paths to power.
The Democratic US president defeated Republican incumbent Donald Trump in 2020, only for Trump’s supporters to storm the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021 in an effort to overturn his loss. Lula, who had already served in the nation’s top job, last year beat then-President Jair Bolsonaro, a Trump admirer. But just a week after his Jan. 1 inauguration, pro-Bolsonaro rioters stormed the capital of Brasilia in a failed attempt to oust the leftist leader.
Lula said his predecessor despised international relations, and that his world started and ended with “fake news” in the morning, afternoon and night.
“Sounds familiar,” Biden quipped in response.
Biden said the two countries would “stand together to reject political violence.”
“We have to work together so that another invasion of the Capitol never happens again, so that the invasions of the powers that occurred in Brazil never happen again,” Lula said.
In addition to shoring up democratic institutions, the two leaders found common ground on climate change. During his campaign, Biden offered to work with international partners to create a $20 billion fund to protect the Amazon, which was subject to rapid deforestation under Bolsonaro.
After the meeting, Lula told reporters that he talked with Biden about the importance of rich countries providing financial assistance to developing nations that are home to the world’s remaining tropical forests. The US, he added, will likely join the Amazon fund or a similar instrument that could engage a larger number of countries to combat deforestation.
The US later announced in a joint statement its “intent to work with Congress to provide funds for programs to protect and conserve the Brazilian Amazon, including initial support for the Amazon Fund, and to leverage investments in this critical region.”
Lula has said he’s strongly committed to fighting climate change and pledged to end deforestation in the Amazon by 2030.
Yet their meeting also exposed differences, as Lula showed he’ll not abide by US orthodoxy on international affairs. For instance, the Brazilian president said he pitched to Biden the creation of a group of countries that could offer to mediate peace between Russia and Ukraine, possibly having China as a mediator — which is anathema to Biden and Kyiv’s allies.
In the joint statement, the leaders “deplored the violation of the territorial integrity of Ukraine by Russia and the annexation of parts of its territory as flagrant violations of international law and called for a just and durable peace.” They also expressed concern about the global effects of the conflict on food and energy security.
Adding to the tensions is the presence of both their former opponents in Florida, as they plot political comebacks. Bolsonaro has vacationed in the Sunshine State since Dec. 30, while Trump has based himself at his Mar-a-Lago estate.
While Biden has faced pressure from congressional Democrats to expel Bolsonaro, Lula was not planning to bring up the topic in the Friday meeting. The US government has taken a wait-and-see approach, hoping the former Brazilian leader leaves the country on his own.
bloomberg.com 02 10 2023