The US Presidential Election and the Future of US-Brazil Relations

Michael Camilleri speaks at an FGV event FGV / Facebook

External Engagement

The Getúlio Vargas Foundation (FGV) Escola de Relações Internacionais held a public online event on July 7, 2020 to discuss current US-Brazil relations and implications of the upcoming US presidential election on the future of these relations. Oliver Stuenkel, Assistant Professor of International Relations at the FGV, moderated the conversation, and Michael Camilleri, Director of the Peter D. Bell Rule of Law Program at the Dialogue, appeared as the featured speaker. 

Comments by Michael Camilleri:

“[The relationship between Brazil and the US] is… based fundamentally on the ideological affinity between the two presidents. It is not deeply rooted in a broader strategic framework, nor has it been institutionalized to a significant degree. Therefore, it is highly vulnerable to political changes in either country… But I think it is important to acknowledge that this close personal alignment between [President Trump and President Bolsonaro] has led to some tangible progress. You can point to the agreement on the Alcântara Launch Facility, the US support for Brazil’s [Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development] aspirations, and the ongoing trade facilitation talks.”

“I would also argue that the hyper-personalization of the bilateral relationship, which is the very thing that has proven useful in overcoming bureaucratic obstacles, also leaves the [US-Brazil] relationship acutely vulnerable to a change in administration in the US.”

“… there is growing antipathy towards Bolsonaro among many in the Democratic party… Bolsonaro’s rhetoric on minorities, his authoritarian style, his denial of climate change and downplaying of the pandemic and not least, of course, his enthusiastic embrace of Donald Trump, seem almost tailor-made to provoke outrage among progressives. I think this is seen very clearly in the recent letter by all of the Democrats on the powerful Ways and Means Committee in the House of Representatives, who sent a letter to the [Trump administration] expressing opposition to any sort of trade agreement with Brazil,… and accusing Bolsonaro of ‘reprehensible rhetoric and actions’ and a ‘complete disregard for basic human rights’.”

“… high expectations, frankly, were assigned to Brazil’s potential role in provoking a transition in Venezuela. And I think to the Trump administration’s frustration, Brazil was either not interested or incapable of meeting those unrealistic expectations. While Venezuela will continue to be a priority and there will be a fair amount of continuity in the outlook [of a potential Biden Administration],…it will not overshadow or compensate for some of these other issues we mentioned, such as climate change, deforestation and the environment more broadly.”

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Full recording of the event available here