WASHINGTON: Brazil’s incoming right-wing leader Jair Bolsonaro will visit Washington early next year as he finds common ground with President Donald Trump, a US official said Friday.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is set to attend Bolsonaro’s New Year’s Day inauguration in Brasilia and will discuss Trump’s invitation to Washington, the official said.
“We look forward to what will hopefully be his first official visit early in the year ahead,” the official told reporters on condition of anonymity.
The Trump administration sees a strong ally in Bolsonaro, who is following the lead of the United States in moving Brazil’s embassy in Israel to Jerusalem and has been critical of international efforts to fight climate change.
The US official noted that both Bolsonaro and Pompeo have warned of risks to Latin America from rising investment by China, whose financing of projects has turned into debt traps.
“It’s not always the case that when China shows up it is with good intention for the people they are showing up to ostensibly support,” the official said.
Bolsonaro, like Trump, has provoked outrage over the years with brash, swaggering statements, including telling a female lawmaker she was “not worth raping” and voicing nostalgia for the former military dictatorship’s use of torture.
The US official acknowledged “there has been some concern about older statements” but said Bolsonaro since the election has taken a “very strident and very forceful” approach to human rights in the region.
“The president-elect has been very forward-leaning on Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua in his defense of the human rights and the freedoms and democracy for the people in those countries,” she said.
Pompeo heads after Brazil to Colombia, where he will speak with President Ivan Duque about taking a firm line against Venezuelan strongman Nicolas Maduro.