Ever since he won the presidential election, in October 2018, Brazil’s Jair Bolsonaro was unambiguous about what kind of relationship he wanted to have with the U.S. He and his sons have been admirers of U.S. President Donald Trump, and don’t see Beijing with kind eyes. So in his first bilateral visit, Mr. Bolsonaro broke a long tradition—according to which Brazilian presidents debut on the international scene by heading to Buenos Aires—and chose Washington as his first destination.
The Brazilian president took some of his highest-profile cabinet members, such as Economy Minister Paulo Guedes, and Agriculture Minister Tereza Cristina. Their job was trying to create a friendlier environment for trade. But as Trump’s U.S. has grown increasingly protectionist, the Bolsonaro-Trump meeting was timid in economic results. Instead, it served more as a beacon of a new era of political rapprochement between the Americas’ two largest democracies.