- The Washington Times - Monday, January 9, 2023

President Biden and the leaders of Canada and Mexico teed up a crucial North American summit on Monday by jointly condemning the violent attacks on Brazil’s “democracy and on the peaceful transfer of power.”

Mr. Biden, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said they stand with Brazil and its democratic institutions after hundreds of supporters of former President Jair Bolsonaro ransacked offices in Brasilia.

“Our governments support the free will of the people of Brazil. We look forward to working with President Lula on delivering for our countries, the Western Hemisphere, and beyond,” the North American leaders said in a statement from the White House.

The attack in Brasilia unfolded one week after the inauguration of Lula da Silva, who defeated Mr. Bolsonaro in the fall.

Mr. Biden repeated his condemnation in a phone call with Mr. da Silva on Monday and invited him to Washington in February for an in-depth discussion about their shared agenda.

“President Biden conveyed the unwavering support of the United States for Brazil’s democracy and for the free will of the Brazilian people as expressed in Brazil’s recent presidential election, which President Lula won,” the White House said in a joint statement from the leaders. “President Biden condemned the violence and the attack on democratic institutions and on the peaceful transfer of power.”

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Mr. Bolsonaro ceded power and is spending time in Florida.

Yet his supporters trashed their country’s Congress, Supreme Court and presidential buildings in an attack that was eerily reminiscent of the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol in Washington by a mob stirred by President Donald Trump’s claims the 2020 election was stolen from him.

Bolsonaro supporters destroyed artwork and caused a sprinkler system to flood the congressional floors. Brazilian authorities have pledged to arrest and prosecute those responsible.

“The freely elected leader of Brazil will govern Brazil and will not be deterred, or knocked off course by the actions of these people who have assaulted the instruments of governance in Brasilia — including Congress, the presidential palace and the Supreme Court,” Mr. Biden’s national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, told reporters Monday. “So we think Brazilian democracy is resilient, strong and will come through this.”

The attack raised questions about whether the U.S. will have to step in and send Mr. Bolsonaro back to Brazil.

“We’re not, as far as I know, in direct contact with Bolsonaro. So I can’t speak definitively about his whereabouts. We have not, as of now, received any official requests from the Brazilian government related to Bolsonaro,” Mr. Sullivan said. “Of course, if we did receive such requests, we treat them the way we always do. We treat them seriously.”

Mr. Sullivan said he couldn’t speak to Mr. Bolsonaro’s visa status in the U.S. and that any issue with his visa, should it arise, would be handled by the State Department.

Mr. Biden, Mr. Trudeau and Mr. Lopez Obrador condemned the violence as they opened a summit in Mexico City, taking place Monday and Tuesday.

Efforts to bolster their major trade alliance will be the focus of the meetings.

Mr. Biden will focus on ways North American manufacturers can bolster their economies while reducing their “dependencies on other countries and other parts of the world who don’t necessarily share the same values that we share with our partners here in North America,” Mr. Sullivan said.

Mr. Biden is also expected to prod Mexican leaders over the flow of deadly fentanyl across the border and discuss critical “migration questions” amid a massive surge in illegal immigration at the southern U.S. border.

• Tom Howell Jr. can be reached at thowell@washingtontimes.com.

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