What Might Happen To U.S.-Brazil Relations Under A President Biden Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has been called the Trump of the Tropics. His environmental and other policies are expected to face closer scrutiny if Joe Biden is elected the next president.

What Might Happen To U.S.-Brazil Relations Under A President Biden

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In the runup to the election, our international correspondents have been looking at foreign leaders who've forged close relationships with Donald Trump. One of them is Brazil's Jair Bolsonaro. He is so like the American president, he has been called the Trump of the tropics. As NPR's Philip Reeves reports, Brazilians are wondering how he'll react if, after Tuesday, he loses his friend in the White House.

PHILIP REEVES, BYLINE: When Jair Bolsonaro was campaigning to become Brazil's president in mid-2018, NPR ran into him by chance at an airport in the city of Fortaleza. Conversation turned to Donald Trump.


PRESIDENT JAIR BOLSONARO: (Speaking Portuguese).

REEVES: Bolsonaro described how happy he felt when Trump was elected. Had the Democrats won and inflicted their ideology on the world, everyone would have suffered, including Brazil, he said. Bolsonaro ended that interview with a reminder to NPR.


BOLSONARO: (Speaking Portuguese).

REEVES: Include the fact that I admire Donald Trump, he said. Historically, Brazilian governments have tended to keep Washington at a friendly distance - not anymore.

PATRICIA CAMPOS MELLO: The first international trip of Bolsonaro was to Washington, D.C., to visit Trump.

REEVES: Patricia Campos Mello is a columnist for Brazil's Folha newspaper and a critic of Bolsonaro.

CAMPOS MELLO: This is unprecedented. I mean, it's always that the Brazilian president visits Argentina, which is our neighbor and most closest partner.

REEVES: Bolsonaro has since visited Trump three more times, including at his Florida resort Mar-a-Lago in March.


PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: And Brazil has really turned a corner. I think you're doing fantastically well.

REEVES: At least 20 members of the Brazilian delegation later tested positive for COVID-19. That didn't spoil the relationship. What, though, if Joe Biden is elected?

RUBENS RICUPERO: It would be a sort of earthquake.

REEVES: Rubens Ricupero is a former Brazilian ambassador to Washington.

RICUPERO: If Bolsonaro lose the moral companionship of the U.S., he will be by himself.

REEVES: Biden has made clear he intends to tackle Bolsonaro on one issue in particular. This came up during Biden's first TV debate with Trump.


JOE BIDEN: Brazil - the rainforests in Brazil are being torn down, are being ripped out. More carbon is absorbed in that rainforest than every bit of carbon that's emitted in the United States.

REEVES: Biden said he'd join forces with other countries to raise $20 billion to give to Brazil with the message...


BIDEN: Stop tearing down the forest. And if you don't, then you're going to have significant economic consequences.

CHRIS WALLACE: What about the argument...

REEVES: That threat didn't go down well with Bolsonaro, says Patricia Campos Mello.

CAMPOS MELLO: It was really aggressive. Bolsonaro on social media, you know, saying, oh, Mr. Biden, blah, blah, blah, very aggressive.

REEVES: A Biden administration would also likely pressure Bolsonaro on human rights and democracy. Bolsonaro's an open admirer of Brazil's past military dictatorship. Yet the U.S. would still need Brazil's support in key areas like tackling Venezuela and containing China, Brazil's biggest trading partner. Rubens Ricupero, the former ambassador, thinks Biden would tread carefully.

RICUPERO: He knows Brazil. He knows the country, its potential and also its weak points.

REEVES: Bolsonaro says he wants a deeper relationship with the U.S. no matter who's president.


BOLSONARO: (Speaking Portuguese).

REEVES: Yet he says he hopes to be at Trump's inauguration. Philip Reeves, NPR News, Rio de Janeiro.


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