President Trump has designated Brazil as a “Major Non-NATO Ally”, as related by The Hill. This increases the number and type of weapons and other items that may be legally purchased by Brazil and Brazilian businesses, and it is due entirely to the election of Jair Bolsonaro.
Bolsonaro’s politics are markedly different from the people who have governed Brazil in recent years, leaning strongly toward nationalism and away from the traditional forms of internationalist socialism which had guided Brazil.
This places Brazil in the unusual position of being considered a major ally of the United States while retaining strong diplomatic and fiscal ties to China, including material participation in their “New Silk Road“. Until recently, it also maintained strong ties with Russia, but those cooled quickly after Bolsonaro’s election. One of the planks of Bolsonaro’s campaign involved ending the flow of Venezuelan migrants into Brazil; Putin’s successful efforts to help Maduro maintain power have soured the Brazilian leader on Russia.
The reduction in global influence by a growing Russian threat makes supporting Bolsonaro a potential political coup by Trump. Brazil is the largest South American country, and is replete with natural resources.
At issue, unfortunately, is Jair Bolsonaro. While he is pushing back against international socialism, he has shown repeated indications of tightening controls over his citizenry.
His police forces have been encouraged to use excessive force against criminals, and there has been an increase in violence used both by police and by militias trained by and loosely connected to police and government agencies.
He has repeatedly moved toward consolidating government power, and has recently initiated an effort to seize land of farmers by adjusting “slave labor” laws, as reported by the Rio Times. Under Bolsonaro’s proposal, poor landowners who are unable to keep their family in suitable conditions would be prosecuted as enslaving their families, with subsequent land seizures. Many native landowners, who have been the subject of racist attacks by Bolsonaro and his supporters, live in such conditions. This would clear the way for some in the native population to have their land seized for development.
Promoting the ties between Brazil and the United States is a positive move forward. Declaring them Ally status may be premature.