Mar 18, 2019

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro begins U.S. visit with trip to CIA

Bolsonaro speaks today at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro began his visit to Washington today with an unusual stop: the CIA. He'll visit the White House tomorrow.

Between the lines: The president’s son, Eduardo Bolsonaro, “described the CIA as ‘one of the most respected intelligence agencies in the world,’ in a tweet that was likely to raise eyebrows back home in Brazil, where the U.S. and its spy services have been regarded with suspicion in recent years,” AP notes.

The younger Bolsonaro also raised eyebrows by attending a far-right gathering on Saturday night at the Trump Hotel, hosted by Steve Bannon. According to the FT, Eduardo told attendees the populist right was “at last doing what the communists and the socialists did a long time ago … we’re organizing ourselves internationally.”

The big picture: A senior Trump administration official told reporters today that the visit signals a "historic remaking of the US-Brazil relationship" and noted that Bolsonaro is "unabashedly pro-American."

  • Some of the focus at the White House will be on Venezuela, but Bolsonaro's other stop today — the U.S. Chamber of Commerce — shows the visit is a chance to make the case that Brazil is now open for business. Both sides think there’s a lot of room to increase trade and investment.

At home, Bolsonaro is pushing for much-needed pension reform. But the Economist notes that he often uses his massive social media presence to fight culture wars rather than promote policies.

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