Lula 'threatens US interests', Bolsonaro pleading to Biden for 'help'
Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro tries to portray himself as the US' saving grace in the largest Latin American country.
Far-right Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has asked US President Joe Biden for help in the face of former President Lula da Silva, against whom he will be running in the October election, Bloomberg reported on Saturday, just two days after they met at the Summit of the Americas in Los Angeles.
Lula is pulling up ahead by around 20 points against Bolsonaro, polls are showing, and as it stands, the incumbent president only has a slim chance of re-election.
The plea for help came during a private meeting following a public press event where the two presidents sought to promote the summit boycotted by Mexico and chastised by other nations to protest the US unilateral exclusion of several Latin American states. Biden made sure that Bolsonaro would be present at the big table by sending a special envoy to convince the Trump ally to attend.
The United States had excluded Cuba, Venezuela, and Nicaragua from the summit, claiming that the authorities in those countries we "not democratic".
A US official said that while legitimate, democratically-elected Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro was sidelined in the summit, Washington is considering a role for Juan Guaido for, in possibility, a side event. According to the White House, Guaido is Venezuela's legitimate president, despite having been chosen without any popular elections.
Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega had also been banned from the summit, despite being elected as president for the fourth term in his country.
Bolsonaro raised the issue of Lula becoming Brazil's next President with Biden, claiming that he would pose a "danger to US interests", anonymous sources told Bloomberg. Biden reportedly responded by underlining the sanctity of Brazil's electoral process, following in the footsteps of other administration officials.
One of the sources also claimed that Bolsonaro asked the US for help to defeat Lula and Biden tried to change the subject so as not to either comply with or dismiss the request.
Despite Bolsonaro and US officials making assurances about safeguarding Brazil's democratic institutions, the very next day, Brazilian Defense Minister General Paulo de Oliveira launched the military's most explicit threat to the October election yet, sending a letter to the president of the electoral court complaining that the Brazilian army was not being allowed to alter the voting process.
Bolsonaro, according to reports on the meeting, portrayed himself as a protector of US interests over those of Brazil, which could pose more difficulties for the president that has been facing mounting opposition from Brazilians throughout the second half of his term, especially over his government's response to the COVID-19 outbreak, rising deforestation rates, and corruption.