Nov 1, 2018

Trump seeks ally in Brazil against "Troika of Tyranny"

A supporter of Jair Bolsonaro wears a Trump mask at an election celebration. Photo: Miguel Schincariol/AFP/Getty Images

President Trump is going on the offensive against the oppressive regimes in Venezuela, Cuba and Nicaragua — and he sees Brazilian president-elect Jair Bolsonaro as an ally in that quest, national security adviser John Bolton said in a speech today in Miami.

The details: The speech was accompanied by fresh sanctions on Venezuela and Cuba and pledge of action against Nicaragua — where President Daniel Ortega has ruthlessly cracked down on protesters demanding his ouster. Bolton's Manichean vision for the region included an "Axis of Evil" equivalent for the Western Hemisphere — the "Troika of Tyranny.” It was also among the most thorough statements of the administration's Latin America policy to date.

  • From the speech: "The recent elections of like-minded leaders in key countries, including Ivan Duque in Colombia, and last weekend Jair Bolsonaro in Brazil, are positive signs for the future of the region, and demonstrate a growing regional commitment to free-market principles, and open, transparent, and accountable governance."
  • Between the lines: That's a clear embrace of Bolsonaro, who has a long history of offensive comments and an affinity for military rule. Perhaps we shouldn't be surprised. Bolsonaro and Trump don't just share populist instincts, says Jason Marczak of the Atlantic Council, they're both fiercely opposed to the Maduro regime in Venezuela.

Trump is intensely unpopular in Latin America, and his approach to the region has largely been defined by immigration. He recently threatened to cut funding to countries like Honduras, which works closely with the U.S., over the migrant "caravan" heading toward the U.S. border. Hours after Bolton’s speech, Trump gave an address on immigration in which he suggested U.S. troops should fire on anyone in the caravan who throws a rock.

  • But his administration has engaged with a number of countries in the region on the Venezuela crisis. Bolton signaled that they now see a window for action, something that is worthy of attention given the administration has discussed the potential of a military intervention.
  • As the Guardian’s Julian Borger points out, “The speech was delivered among rising tensions in Latin America. Earlier this week, Colombia’s foreign minister denied reports that Colombia was conspiring with Bolsonaro to use force to topple Maduro.”

What to watch: This might just be a short-term rhetorical offensive tied to a get-out-the-vote effort in Florida. But if the administration really is placing new emphasis on Latin America, there are major opportunities both for cooperation with allies, and confrontation with the “troika.”

Go deeper: Bolsonaro could ramp up deforestation, environmentalists warn

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Top Trump ally sounds 2020 election alarm over coronavirus response

Photo: Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images

There is growing concern among top conservative leaders that the Trump administration isn't addressing the long-term economic impact of the coronavirus, several sources tell Axios. One top adviser said if the recovery is bungled it could cost President Trump the election.

What we're hearing: "The next 4-8 weeks is really going to decide whether Trump gets reelected," Stephen Moore, Trump's former nominee for the Federal Reserve board, told Axios. If the administration mishandles its economic recovery efforts, he said, Trump is "in big trouble."

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 10 p.m. ET: 1,600,427 — Total deaths: 95,506 — Total recoveries: 354,006Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 10 p.m. ET: 465,329 — Total deaths: 16,513 — Total recoveries: 25,410Map.
  3. Public health latest: U.S. has expelled thousands of migrants under a CDC public health orderDr. Anthony Fauci said social distancing could reduce the U.S. death toll to 60,000.
  4. Business latest: The Fed will lend up to $2.3 trillion for businesses, state and city governments — After another 6.6 million jobless claims, here's how to understand the scale of American job decimation.
  5. 2020 latest: Top conservative leaders are concerned the Trump administration isn't addressing the virus' long-term economic impact.
  6. States latest: FEMA has asked governors to decide if they want testing sites to be under state or federal control.
  7. World latest: Lockdowns have led to a decline in murders in some of the world's most violent countries — Boris Johnson is moved out of the ICU but remains in hospital with coronavirus.
  8. In Congress: Senate in stalemate over additional funding for small business relief program.
  9. 1 SNL thing: "Saturday Night Live" will return this weekend in a remotely produced episode.
  10. What should I do? Hydroxychloroquine questions answeredPets, moving and personal healthAnswers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingQ&A: Minimizing your coronavirus risk.
  11. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it.

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Federal court temporarily blocks coronavirus order against some abortions

Gov. Greg Abbott. Photo: Tom Fox-Pool/Getty Images

A federal judge ruled Thursday that clinics in Texas can immediately offer medication abortions — a pregnancy termination method administered by pill — and can also provide the procedure to patients nearing the state's time limits for abortions.

Driving the news: The decision comes after federal appeals court ruled 2-1 on Tuesday in favor of an executive order by Republican Gov. Greg Abbott that prohibits abortions during the coronavirus outbreak.

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