You can always count on Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro, known in some circles as the “Trump of the Tropics,” to liven things up a bit.
Case in point: just two days before he is set to meet with Joe Biden at the Summit of the Americas, which is being held in Los Angeles, Bolsonaro is questioning whether his American counterpart was even legitimately elected. And if that doesn’t trigger an avalanche of leftist meltdowns, it’s hard to imagine what will.
During a television interview on Tuesday, Bolsonaro frankly admitted that he’s not entirely sure Biden won the 2020 election and finds the whole thing suspicious as hell. In making these observations, the Brazilian president echoed the concerns of many American citizens, whose doubts about the election results are raised by unconcealed conspiracies, massive infusions of outside money, and the suspension of normal election procedures in Democratic districts.
“The American people are the ones who talk about [election fraud],” Bolsonaro explained, according to Reuters. “I will not discuss the sovereignty of another country. But Trump was doing really well.”
“We don’t want that to happen in Brazil,” Bolsonaro added, alluding to his own country’s upcoming election in October, as well as the possibility of foreign election interference. Bolsonaro’s statements could even be construed as a warning to foreign intelligence agencies and NGOs, advising them to not engage in the sort of “color revolution” in Brazil that has been used elsewhere to destabilize and topple governments deemed unacceptable to certain elements of the so-called “rules-based international order.”
A White House official was asked about why Biden is still meeting with Bolsonaro, despite his comments.
“‘I guess what I would say about the decision to do a meeting is that President Bolsonaro is a democratically elected leader of Brazil, a country the United States shares a significant set of common interests and concerns,” a senior White House official explained, according to Daily Mail. The real question, however, is whether Biden is the democratically elected leader of the United States.
For his part, Bolsonaro waited until sometime in mid-December to congratulate Biden on his electoral “victory”—making him the last of the G20 leaders to do so. This question of legitimacy is more than merely an academic one since it impacts the viability and effectiveness of international summits, such as the Summit of the Americas. The Democrats’ 2020 electoral shenanigans, whether or not they were successful, have nonetheless undermined the legitimacy of the American government, both at home and abroad, thereby shaking the foundations of the American-led world order.
The crisis of legitimacy has led to the reasonable doubts of world leaders like Bolsonaro, undermining the ability of the US government to negotiate important international agreements, and has emboldened the irredentist dreams of leaders like Vladimir Putin, who seize an opportunity while America is weak and divided.
Meanwhile, the Summit of the Americas is faltering badly. Aside from Bolsonaro questioning whether Biden is a legitimate head of state, none of the leaders of the “Northern Triangle” countries in Central America—representing Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador—will be attending, in an obvious snub. And Mexico’s President Obrador decided to skip the whole thing, boycotting it over the White House’s failure to invite the presidents of Cuba, Venezuela, and Nicaragua.
In other words, the Summit was a bust before it even started.
“The president’s principled position is that we do not believe dictators should be invited,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said at a Monday press briefing.
She was then asked why Biden would consider meeting with Saudi Arabia’s crown prince Mohammed bin Salman, who seems to meet most of the standard criteria for an authoritarian dictator.
“You know, if [the President] determines that it’s in the interest of the United States to engage with a foreign leader and that such an engagement can deliver results, then he’ll do it,” she responded.
Later that day, during a briefing call, a senior White House official clarified the issue: “We have at no time said, including in discussions of participation related to this summit, that we are severing all relations or refusing to engage with countries about whom we have significant concerns related to democratic governance. We engage with countries like that in all parts of the world and we will engage with countries like that in our own hemisphere when we think it’s in our interest to do so.
“That’s a different question from whether and when we will invite those countries to participate in a regional gathering that we believe is intended to and is best served by celebrating the democratic principles that unite the vast majority of the hemisphere,” the official added.
There was a lot of lofty rhetoric about “democratic principles,” but at no time did the White House address Bolsonaro’s questions about the legitimacy of the 2020 election. And for that reason, if for no other, the meeting between Biden and Bolsonaro at the summit is likely to be more than a little awkward.
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