In South America’s Brazil, right-wing president Jair Bolsonaro bears many uncanny resemblances to former President Donald Trump.
Like the democracy-threatening chaos at the end of Trump’s presidency, Brazil is teetering on the edge of losing its guaranteed democracy.
President Joe Biden’s administration has repeatedly reached out diplomatically to plead with Bolsonaro to stop interfering ahead of the country’s October elections. Bolsonaro, like Trump, has spent years spreading conspiracy theories around the upcoming vote and trying to de-legitimize it, calling for January 6th-like protests that could turn bloody.
But there’s no diplomat from the US in Brazil, so US influence has been severely limited. 2 years into his presidency, Biden still hasn’t filled around 40 high-ranking diplomatic positions, which leads the country to a weaker foreign position around the world.
And many are criticizing the administration’s desire to get involved in Brazil’s democracy when his own country still isn’t guaranteed. Just one year after the riots of January 6, many say that the US isn’t in much better shape than Brazil.
One senior US official said of Brazil, “This is one of our biggest and most important relationships in the Americas, and one of the most important globally. This is arguably the most consequential election for Brazil since the end of the dictatorship. It’s unfortunate and shows a lack of seriousness that we will not have an ambassador in Brazil, and many other places, at this moment.”
However, Biden seems focused on other priorities, leading the US’s top diplomats to worry about the country’s foreign influence in coming months and years at a time when international peril is at its highest since the Cold War.