The 2022 Summit of the Americas, taking place this week in Los Angeles, will not be held under the friendliest circumstances. After two years of the Covid pandemic, with an economic hangover that thrust Latin American nations into a potential “lost decade,” region-wide political consensus are at a premium.
The summit will be quieter than usual, with Mexico boycotting the event due to the U.S.’s ban of Nicaragua, Venezuela, and Cuba. The major headline, meanwhile, will be the first one-on-one meeting between Brazil’s far-right President Jair Bolsonaro and his U.S. counterpart Joe Biden, which will happen on the sidelines of the summit.
The Bolsonaro administration cozied up to the U.S. while Donald Trump was in the White House, but Mr. Biden has given Mr. Bolsonaro a wide berth since winning election. A Trump-era friendship is unlikely to return.
While understanding the importance of the meeting, both sides see each other as dead in the water. Brazil suspect Mr. Biden will become a lame duck president were he to lose midterm elections, while the U.S. is all too aware of Mr. Bolsonaro’s struggles in the polls for the October election.
Brazil’s Foreign Affairs Ministry told Brasília contributor Cedê Silva that the two presidents will discuss a broad range of issues, but that Mr. Bolsonaro wants to pay special attention to the impacts of the war in Ukraine on fertilizers supplies and food security.
However, prickly issues — such as Amazon deforestation and the disappearance of British journalist Dom Phillips and indigenous expert Bruno Pereira — are sure to be brought up, much to Mr. Bolsonaro’s chagrin.
As recently as Tuesday, Mr. Bolsonaro once again cast doubts over the legitimacy of Mr. Biden’s 2020 electoral win against Donald Trump — using it for his own agenda of sowing distrust in Brazil’s own voting system.
And on Wednesday, his government published the ratification of an economic cooperation agreement struck during the presidency of Donald Trump, Mr. Biden’s predecessor.
Not exactly the best preparation for the pair’s first ever meeting.