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How Bolsonaro will follow the U.S. election (and root for Trump)

. Nov 03, 2020
bolsonaro us election Photo montage: André Chiavassa/TBR

Breaking with political etiquette, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has not disguised his desire for Donald Trump to win today’s 2020 U.S. presidential election. In his most recent display of affection towards his American counterpart, Mr. Bolsonaro said he hopes to attend Mr. Trump’s second inauguration. “I don’t need to hide this, it comes from the heart,” he said, during the October visit of U.S. National Security Advisor Robert C. O’Brien.

As the polls open around the U.S., Mr. Bolsonaro will spend the day following the developments of Election Day. 

This morning, he met with cabinet members and foreign policy advisors for updates on election probabilities — and to decide on his strategy in case Democratic candidate Joe Biden confirms his lead in the polls and takes the White House.

</p> <p>Members of the president&#8217;s inner circle and career diplomats diverge on what they see as the likeliest outcome of the election. Filipe Martins, a special advisor on foreign policy, told Mr. Bolsonaro that Mr. Trump will win four more years, according to one source present at the meeting.&nbsp;</p> <p>However, Foreign Minister Ernesto Araújo — an <a href="https://brazilian.report/podcast/2019/03/20/jair-bolsonaro-donald-trump/">unapologetic Trump supporter</a> — shares the views of other diplomats, believing Joe Biden is likely to win the Electoral College in a landslide.</p> <iframe src="https://open.spotify.com/embed-podcast/episode/3ulkklC6bRRy1yXQvDqUjH" width="100%" height="232" frameborder="0" allowtransparency="true" allow="encrypted-media"></iframe> <hr class="wp-block-separator"/> <h2>Bolsonaro hopes for the best, prepares for the worst</h2> <p>Many observers believe that the U.S. election could be, as it was in 2000, decided by the courts — as Mr. Trump has shown no sign that he is ready to concede defeat. Instead, litigation over mail-in ballots could create a <a href="https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2020/11/what-if-trump-refuses-concede/616424/">post-election deadlock</a> for weeks or even months.</p> <p>With that in mind, the Brazilian government has adopted a more pragmatic approach to the election process,&nbsp;regardless of Mr. Bolsonaro&#8217;s cheerleading for Donald Trump. Some officials are in talks with the Republican side, by way of names such as Mr. O&#8217;Brien and Mr. Trump&#8217;s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani. Meanwhile, others are trying to build bridges with the Biden camp.</p> <p>But reaching an understanding with the Democrats will not be easy. Many fear that Jair Bolsonaro&#8217;s world-reviled environmental stances could make him the perfect target for Mr. Biden to <a href="https://theweek.com/articles/925394/joe-biden-taking-climate-change-seriously">show voters he means business</a> when it comes to climate change.&nbsp;</p> <p>On Twitter, Mr. Biden&#8217;s top advisor on Latin America Juan González added to these fears:&nbsp;</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet tw-align-center"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Anybody, in Brazil or elsewhere, who thinks they can advance an ambitious relationship with the United States while ignoring important issues like climate change, democracy, and human rights clearly hasn’t been listening to Joe Biden on the campaign trail. <a href="https://t.co/SyIGlFMdpx">https://t.co/SyIGlFMdpx</a></p>— Juan S. Gonzalez (@Cartajuanero) <a href="https://twitter.com/Cartajuanero/status/1319392360279756800?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">October 22, 2020</a></blockquote> <script async="" src="https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script> <p>In a push to minimize the effects of Mr. Bolsonaro&#8217;s cheering for Mr. Trump, Vice President Hamilton Mourão once again attempted to present himself as the adult in the room, adding pragmatism to official statements from the Brazilian government.&nbsp;</p> <p>He called the president&#8217;s open preference for the incumbent U.S. head of state &#8220;nonsense,&#8221; and dismissed it as &#8220;just his own personal opinion.&#8221;</p> <h2>Musical chairs</h2> <p>In Brazil, at least two men are expected to lose their jobs if Mr. Trump fails to win re-election: Todd Chapman, the U.S. Ambassador to Brasília, and Brazil&#8217;s Foreign Minister Ernesto Araújo.</p> <p>As we revealed on October 16, the Brazilian president’s newfound allies — a group of ideology-free parties known as the “Big Center” — want to use the U.S. election as a <a href="https://brazilian.report/newsletters/brazil-daily/2020/10/16/exclusive-biden-win-could-lead-to-cabinet-reshuffle-in-brazil/">pretext to bin Mr. Araújo</a>, which they have reportedly been looking forward to for some time.</p> <p>Mr. Araújo is known for his anti-globalist, Sinophobic views, and once wrote that Donald Trump is the West&#8217;s hope for salvation against &#8220;<a href="https://brazilian.report/power/2018/11/15/brazil-ministry-foreign-affairs/">Stalin’s, Mao’s, or Pol Pot’s henchmen</a>.&#8221; He has become a nuisance for the Brazilian political establishment, particularly for those defending the interests of agribusiness, who see China as their best client, not an existential threat.

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Débora Álvares

Débora Álvares has worked as a political reporter for newspapers Folha de S.Paulo, O Estado de S.Paulo, Globo News, HuffPost, among others. She specializes in reporting on Brasilia, working behind-the-scenes coverage at the Executive, Legislative, and Judiciary branches of government.

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