Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has spoken of his admiration of the U.S. as he attends his first visit to Washington as the two countries aim to strengthen their rapport after what Bolsonaro called, a long line of anti-American leaders.
Bolsonaro told business leaders that his country has changed, expressing his wish to increase business relations.
“The American people have always been an inspiration for me.”
“We have good relationships around the world,” he added, “but I am extending my hands so that the relationship with the United States is increasingly more important.”
An outspoken Trump admirer, Bolsonaro took power in January, vowing to realign Brazil with more advanced economies, particularly the United States. That represents a change in diplomatic priorities after over a decade of leftist party rule that had seen Brazil forging closer ties with regional allies.
Brazilian Economy Minister Paulo Guedes echoed Bolsonaro’s message of friendship toward the United States but reminded the audience that China, Brazil’s top trading partner, would be there to pick up the slack if America did not open itself to more trade with Brazil.
“They are moving in, trying to invest,” Guedes said of the Chinese.
“And we are looking to our partner and saying ‘look, what should we do?’ The president loves Americans. Me too of course. We love Disneyland and Coca Cola.”
A U.S. senior administration official, who spoke to reporters on condition of anonymity, welcomed the change in Brazil’s diplomatic stance.
“Even the friendliest of Brazilian governments was never really that friendly. Here we have now a government in Brazil we truly consider an ally,” the official said.
Bolsonaro’s meeting with Trump came together within weeks of the Brazilian leader’s inauguration after the two political firebrands expressed mutual admiration for each other.
Bolsonaro earned the nickname “Trump of the Tropics.”