Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro demanded concessions from President Biden before committing to attend the troubled Summit of the Americas this week in Los Angeles, according to a new report.
Bolsonaro threatened to add his name to the embarrassing list of leaders skipping the summit if he didn’t secure a private meeting with Biden as well as a guarantee that he would not be criticized on any issue — including environmental matters, the Associated Press reported.
The AP, citing three unnamed Brazilian cabinet ministers, said Bolsonaro wanted Biden to hold his tongue on the deforestation of the Amazon as well as potential reforms to Brazilian elections.
The report did not specify Biden’s response, but Bolsanaro is expected to meet privately with the president.
White House press secretary Karine-Jean Pierre declined to confirm the accuracy of the report at her regular briefing Tuesday. At one point, Jean-Pierre seemed confused and answered an AP reporter’s question about the report as if she’d been asked about Venezuela.
“I cannot confirm that report,” Jean-Pierre said. “The president is looking forward to leaving tomorrow to head to the summit that we’re — that we are hosting. I can say this, the United States continues to recognize Juan Guaido as the interim president of Venezuela. That said, while the interim government was was not invited to participate in the main summit, they are welcome to participate in all three stakeholder forums and other events.”
Bolsonaro is a right-wing politician who had close relations with former President Donald Trump and his attendance at the Summit of the Americas will prevent complete embarrassment for Biden when he arrives Wednesday in Los Angeles. Brazil is the second-most-populous country in the Americas, after the US.
Mexican President Manuel López Obrador, leader of the largest Spanish-speaking and third-most-populous country in the Americas, confirmed Monday that he would boycott the summit after the US refused to invite the authoritarian leftist leaders of Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela.
It’s unclear how many countries ultimately will skip the summit.
Honduran President Xiomara Castro also has said she will not attend — in a bitter blow to the Biden administration after Vice President Kamala Harris traveled to Honduras to support Castro when she was inaugurated in January.
Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammattei said in May that “I will not go” after the US barred entry of the country’s attorney general, Maria Consuelo Porras, over her “involvement in significant corruption.” A spokesman later said Giammattei might change his mind.
El Salvador’s president Nayib Bukele, who has been faulted by the US for allegedly not respecting civil liberties during a crackdown on gangs, also may skip the summit. Bolivian President Luis Arce also recently confirmed he would not attend.