Updated Feb 10, 2023 - World

Democracy challenges on agenda for Biden and Lula's White House meeting

on the left is a photo of President Biden looking off to the side while speaking. On the right is a photo of Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva standing in front of a microphone

President Biden (left) and Brazil's president, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. Photos: Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP via Getty Images (left); Fabio Teixeira/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Strengthening democracy could be a rallying point for President Biden and his Brazilian counterpart, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, when they meet at the White House on Friday, experts say.

Driving the news: It's been a month since thousands of supporters of former President Jair Bolsonaro attacked Brazil's Supreme Court, Congress and Presidential Palace.

  • The accused attackers deny Lula won the election, despite no evidence of tampering.
  • Brazilian authorities have arrested roughly 1,400 suspects, including top security personnel.
  • Bolsonaro, who denounced the rioters, is under investigation in Brazil for accusations that he helped incite the mob. He remains in Florida and is seeking a six-month tourist visa to stay in the U.S.

What they're saying: Lula "has everything on the table right now to be a democratic champion, given what happened in Brazil over the past month and a half," analyst Thiago de Aragão said Monday at a Center for Strategic and International Studies event.

  • "Having seen Biden in a similar situation on Jan. 6, this is something they can, together, focus on a global narrative that coincides in terms of democratic values and environmental policies," de Aragão said.
  • Biden was quick to denounce the Brazil attacks.

The big picture: The presidents will also tackle climate change, economic development and migration during their meeting, the White House said.

  • Lauri Tähtinen, another analyst at the CSIS event, said he expects agreements on climate and the environment.
  • Lula has vowed to battle record deforestation in the Amazon and to protect Indigenous communities from illegal miners and loggers. That's a drastic shift from Bolsonaro, who championed those activities and who clashed with the Biden administration over refusing international funds for rainforest conservation.
  • "This meeting between the two leaders will strengthen the relationship between the United States and Brazil and will set the stage for upcoming high-level engagements between our two countries," a senior Biden administration official said ahead of Friday's meeting.
  • The official added that Brazil is an important U.S. ally and that the presidents have a personal relationship.

Between the lines: Lula's presidency marks a drastic shift for the global role of Latin America's largest country, economy and diplomatic power, Axios' Dave Lawler writes.

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