“I don’t know if it’s his age”

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro confirmed on Thursday that he would travel to Los Angeles in June for the Summit of the Americas and said he planned to meet his American counterpart Joe Biden in person, adding that Biden had treated him “as if I didn’t exist” during their last meeting, blaming the snub on “age”.

Reports had previously indicated that Bolsonaro – a staunch conservative whom Biden has antagonized on several occasions, including with a threat to destroy Brazil’s economy during a presidential debate in 2020 – would not attend the summit for unclear reasons. . Many have speculated that Biden’s poor diplomacy with Bolsonaro was a contributing factor.

The Summit, which is due to take place the week of June 6, is the first of its kind since 2018 and aims to bring together members of the Organization of American States (OAS). Regardless of a potential boycott of Brazil, South America’s largest economy, leaders from several left-leaning Latin American countries are threatening to boycott the event unless Biden invites Cuba to the summit.

The OAS Charter requires member states to be democracies, and Cuba never attended a summit before President Barack Obama insisted on extending an invitation. Cuba used its appearances at the 2015 and 2018 Summits of the Americas to stage violent mobs to shut down talks about promoting democracy.

Bolsonaro is one of the most vocal opponents of the Cuban regime and communism in general in the region; no reports indicated that his potential absence from the upcoming event was linked to potential boycotts by leftist nations.

Bolsonaro told reporters Thursday that Biden had sent “someone specifically to talk to me” — apparently referring to former senator and current White House summit special adviser Chris Dodd — about his attendance, and that he had agreed to do it.

“He sent someone specifically to talk to me and I put my cards on the table there,” Bolsonaro said. “Itamaraty [the Brazilian Foreign Affairs Ministry] the staff was there [Foreign Minister] Carlos França, I spoke about the change in behavior of the United States towards Brazil when Biden took power.

US President Donald Trump shakes hands with Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro during dinner at Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach, Florida on March 7, 2020. (JIM WATSON/AFP via Getty Images)

“With Trump, everything was going very well,” Bolsonaro continued. “We planned to do a lot of things for Brazil, adding value to Brazil… when Biden came in, there was just a freeze [of relations]. For my part, I have not changed my policy with him.

Bolsonaro then added that he would meet Biden for a two-way exchange during his next trip to the United States and recalled his last meeting.

“I met him at the G-20 [summit in October] and he passed me like I didn’t exist,” Bolsonaro said, “but that’s how he treated everyone, I don’t know if that’s his age.”

Bolsonaro added that he was not going to America “to smile, shake hands and appear in a photo – I will solve problems”.

“I tended not to go there. I can’t go there, given the size of Brazil, just to be a frame in a picture,” he concluded.

The US Embassy in Brasilia confirmed on Wednesday that Dodd, Biden’s representative, had met with Bolsonaro, issuing a statement from Dodd himself.

“President Joe Biden has asked me to travel to Brazil today with a particular focus on the summit,” Dodd wrote. “I have come to reinforce our longstanding appreciation for the deep and consistent partnership that our two countries share, built on a common foundation of democracy, human rights, economic prosperity, rule of law and security. “

“This morning, during my meeting with President Bolsonaro, I reiterated our hope that Brazil will be an active participant in the Summit, as we honor a collective responsibility to forge a more inclusive and prosperous future,” Dodd concluded. leaving the question of Bolsonaro open. attendance at the event.

França, Brazil’s foreign minister, had previously voiced Bolsonaro’s concerns that the summit would not result in any meaningful political action and that he was therefore not interested in attending. According to the Brazilian newspaper O Globo, Bolsonaro worried about the low attendance at the summit and the fact that Washington would ignore the most important topics for the Brazilian government, namely the recovery of regional economies after two years of containment measures linked to the Chinese coronavirus. Bolsonaro has been one of the most vocal world leaders against the implementation of economic containment and social distancing measures, although as the president of a country governed by a federalist system, he had no the power to prevent many governors from imposing such policies.

Bolsonaro confirmed his attendance the same day the US State Department confirmed that the dictatorships of Venezuela and Nicaragua would not receive invitations, potentially jeopardizing the presence of left-wing leaders from Mexico, Bolivia, Honduras and a collection of small Caribbean states largely dependent on the Venezuelan socialist regime for oil. Reports say Biden has yet to decide whether to invite Castro’s communist regime, despite his history of violence and unrest at previous summits.

Follow Frances Martel on Facebook and Twitter.


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