Head of the US Embassy in Brazil, the charge d’affaires Douglas Koneff defended the Brazilian electoral system in a meeting with former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva (PT), this Wednesday (21), in São Paulo.
At the meeting with PT, according to reports, Koneff said that the US government has great respect for the country’s electoral authorities and the way the election is organized. The administration of Joe Biden has sent signals of support for the work of the TSE (Superior Electoral Court) in the face of attacks by Jair Bolsonaro (PL) on electronic voting machines and court ministers.
Washington’s main gesture took place in July, when the embassy released a note stating that Brazilian elections are a model for the world and that Americans trust the strength of the country’s institutions.
The statement was published shortly after Bolsonaro gave a presentation at Palácio da Alvorada for heads of diplomatic missions in Brasília, in which he repeated lies and conspiracy theories to discredit the electoral system.
In another message against Bolsonaro’s coup escalation, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin told Brazilian Defense Minister General Paulo Sérgio Nogueira that the Biden administration expects Brazil to maintain the tradition of holding fair and transparent elections.
Koneff’s meeting with Lula had been under negotiation for weeks. Also participating were former Chancellor Celso Amorim, PT’s main foreign policy adviser, and Senator Jaques Wagner (PT). Previously, Lula had two meetings with foreign diplomats: one with Russia, India and South Africa and another with France, Germany, Switzerland, Poland and the Netherlands.
The head of the American embassy, in turn, has already met with two other presidential candidates: Ciro Gomes (PDT) and Simone Tebet (MDB). Koneff is chargé d’affaires and runs the mission because at the moment there is no US ambassador in the country. Sought, the agency said it does not comment on private meetings.
According to people with knowledge of the topics discussed, the Americans expected to hear from Lula on various issues, including climate, the Ukrainian War and the line that an eventual government would adopt in its relationship with China – Washington’s global adversary.
After the meeting, interlocutors said that both sides evaluated that there will be space, in a possible Lula administration, to deepen bilateral cooperation on topics such as environmental preservation and the fight against poverty in Latin America. There were no specific charges from the two parties.
In the first theme, the PT tries to make a difference with Bolsonaro, accused of promoting an anti-environmental agenda and encouraging the increase in deforestation in the Amazon. The PT campaign’s focus in the area was reinforced on September 12, with the announcement of support from former minister Marina Silva. The government program commits to zero net deforestation.
Lula’s position on the conflict in Ukraine, in turn, generates apprehension among Western countries that support the resistance led by Volodymyr Zelensky. In March, Lula’s interview with Time magazine caused unease, after the PT said that the Ukrainian leader was as responsible for the situation as Russian Vladimir Putin – and that the US and the European Union stimulated the conflict.
The war was a subject widely discussed in Lula’s previous meetings with ambassadors.
Relations between the Biden administration and Bolsonaro’s Brazil have a history of friction. The Brazilian is an admirer of former President Donald Trump and was one of the last to congratulate Biden on his victory in 2020. In the first year of the relationship, the two countries engaged in negotiations on the environment, a point of strong interest for the Democrat, but the talks cooled given the persistence of negative numbers of deforestation in the Amazon.
In June of this year, at the Summit of the Americas in Los Angeles, the first and only bilateral meeting of the two presidents was held.