After Trump and Bolsonaro, can Biden and Lula have their own bromance?
Analysis by Ishaan TharoorColumnist
February 10, 2023 at 12:01 a.m. EST
President Biden hosts his Brazilian counterpart at the White House on Friday. The visit of President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva to Washington marks a meeting of the leaders of the Western hemisphere’s two biggest economies and democracies. And it’s being framed as a chance for a fresh start after the chaos left behind by both of these presidents’ predecessors — tenures marked by polarization, political tumult and the ideological convergence of hard-right nationalists in both countries.
Lula arrived in Washington a month after supporters of defeated former president Jair Bolsonaro stormed key institutions of the federal state in the capital Brasília in a failed bid to oust the leftist leader and his new administration. In the weeks since, Brazilian officials have stressed that Biden’s swift and strong backing of both Lula and Brazil’s democratic institutions, as well as the solidarity of many other countries elsewhere, proved crucial during a fraught moment for Brazil’s still-young democracy.
Lula’s visit also comes a week after Bolsonaro, who has yet to formally accept his defeat in last year’s election and is in the middle of an extended sojourn in Florida, spoke at an event hosted at a hotel owned by former president Donald Trump. “Brazil was doing very well,” Bolsonaro lamented before a sympathetic crowd. “I cannot understand the reasons why [the election] decided to go to the left.”
Bolsonaro supporters in the audience chanted “fraud” repeatedly. Before Brazil’s elections, the far-right president had spent months casting the integrity of his own nation’s voting systems into doubt, even though his claims were not substantiated by meaningful evidence. According to the Associated Press’s account of the Miami event, Charlie Kirk — head of Turning Point USA, the far-right group that gave Bolsonaro the platform — smirked as the shouts of “fraud” subsided. “All I can say is, that sounds very familiar,” said Kirk, who spent months pushing misinformation about Trump’s electoral defeat.