The Brazilian president has finally resolved. Like his Russian counterparts Vladimir Putin and Mexican Andrés Manuel López Obrador a few hours before him, Jair Bolsonaro sent his congratulations to American President-elect Joe Biden, 24 hours after the electoral college confirmed his victory. “My greetings to President Joe Biden, with best wishes and hope that the United States continues to be the ‘land of freedom and the abode of courage,'” the far-right leader said in a statement, citing the last lines of the American anthem.
“I will be ready to work with your excellence and to continue building a Brazil-United States alliance, in defense of sovereignty, democracy and freedom throughout the world,” added the one who was the unconditional ally of outgoing US President Donald Trump. Often nicknamed the “Tropical Trump”, Jair Bolsonaro had crossed swords with the Democratic candidate when the latter threatened Brazil with “significant economic consequences” if deforestation continued in the Amazon.
A diplomatic detail?
The Brazilian leader had judged “disastrous” these remarks which threatened according to him “the cordial relations” between the two countries. Once the victory of Biden acquired, the Brazilian president had raised the tone, declaring in a warlike mode: “when one does not have any more saliva, it is necessary to have powder”. “Since the American electoral campaign, there were concerns about the opposing views of Bolsonaro and Biden on environmental protection, sustainable development or human rights,” explained to Agence France-Presse Tomaz Favaro, from the consultancy firm Control Risks.
Rubens Barbosa, former Brazilian ambassador to Washington and president of the Institute of International Relations and Foreign Trade (Irice), however, believes that the fact that Bolsonaro took a long time to congratulate Biden is just a “detail in terms of diplomatic courtesy “. “What will really determine the nature of the relations between our two countries are important subjects like 5G” for telephony, he underlines.
Brazil is due to organize calls for tenders for the 5G network in 2021, and the Trump administration had lobbied hard for Brasilia to dismiss the Chinese group Huawei. A real dilemma for Brazil, of which China is the main trading partner, to which it massively sells its soybeans, meat and iron ore. For Oliver Stuenkel, Professor of International Relations at the Getulio Vargas Foundation, if Bolsonaro did not want to recognize Biden’s victory for a long time, it is “that he would like to be able to use the same strategy as Trump in the event of a defeat during the Brazilian presidential election of 2022 ”, that of the invocation of“ a fraud ”.