Brazil’s leader promises to restore ‘north-south’ alliance with U.S. in Miami speech

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro promised in Miami to restore the “north-south” strategic alliance with the United States and slash regulations to promote investments.

Known as the Brazilian Trump, Bolsonaro spoke Monday about his ambitious plan to boost the economic relationship with the United States before an audience of investors and entrepreneurs gathered at the Hilton Miami Downtown hotel for the seminar “Brazil-U.S. Business Relations in Florida” organized by export agency Apex.

“The key word is trust,” Bolsonaro said. “In the last decades of leftist governments, there has been distrust of the United States. That changed. Now we have a government that respects the family, the will of the people, its military forces, and that believes in God.”

The Brazilian leader also promised to eliminate regulations to reduce bureaucracy.

“Brazil cannot remain as one of the most difficult countries for investors,” he said.

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In his speech, Bolsonaro repeatedly criticized his country’s “left wing” and mentioned Venezuela as an example of what “should not be.”

Earlier on Monday, Bolsonaro met with Florida Republican Sens. Marco Rubio and Rick Scott, Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Giménez and Miami Mayor Francis Suarez.

Brazil is Miami’s largest regional trade partner, both mayors stressed at the Monday event.

Boosting the U.S.-Brazil economic relationship is the central theme of a four-day visit to Florida that began on Saturday with a dinner at Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach with President Donald Trump, whom Bolsonaro has met a dozen times.

Bolsonaro is counting on his relationship with Trump, with whom he shares style and political affinities, to ensure agreements that help revive the Brazilian economy and create more jobs. His government has put into place austerity policies and a controversial pension reform with the hope of generating growth. In 2019, Brazil attracted $ 75 billion in investments, Foreign Minister Ernesto Araújo told the audience at the Miami event.

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“He is doing a fantastic job. Brazil loves him and the USA loves him.” Trump told reporters before dinner at Mar-a-Lago.

Although Trump left open a discussion about imposing new tariffs on Brazilian products, the administration signaled its interest in strengthening an alliance with the second-largest economy in the Americas. In a joint statement, both presidents said they instructed their officials to speed up negotiations for a bilateral trade agreement.

Brazilian and U.S. officials are expected to sign an energy and finance agreement as part of the America Grows initiative, a Trump administration project to promote private sector infrastructure investment in Latin America and the Caribbean.

Trump also reiterated his support for Brazil joining the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

Venezuela on the agenda

In his speech in Miami, Bolsonaro said he talked to Trump about the Venezuelan crisis.

“It is important that we do everything possible so that normality returns to Venezuela” and that other countries in the region do not go through “what our Venezuelan brothers are living,” Bolsonaro said.

The Brazilian president also discussed the issue with Rubio, the senator said on Twitter.

A senior administration official said during a call with reporters on Saturday that the United States was coordinating with Brazil and Colombia new measures to increase pressure against Nicolás Maduro in Venezuela.

The official said he expected the sanctions campaign against the Maduro regime to work. Still, if military options were to be considered, they would be coordinated with the allies in the region, he added.

“Our defense cooperation with Colombia and Brazil are extraordinary and anything in the region that we do, we count on our alliance completely,” the senior official said. “Hopefully, we never have to reach those measures in our maximum pressure campaign.”

Last year the administration declared Brazil as a non-NATO member ally, a status only granted in the region to Argentina, and that allows for greater military cooperation.

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Bolsonaro met Sunday with the head of the U.S. Southern Command, Navy Adm. Craig Faller, to sign a research and development agreement that will expand information sharing and collaboration for expanding defense capabilities.

“Brazil is one of our strongest democratic partners in the hemisphere,” Faller said in a statement. “We value our longstanding partnership with Brazil’s armed forces, and we look forward to taking new and important steps to expand our military cooperation.”

On Monday afternoon, Bolsonaro will meet with members of the Brazilian community at the Miami Dade College medical campus. He will attend another business event on Tuesday and wrap up his public agenda on Wednesday with a visit to a Jacksonville facility of the Brazilian aircraft manufacturer Embraer.

Follow Nora Gámez Torres on Twitter: @ngameztorres

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