WASHINGTON – Ahead of tomorrow’s meeting between U.S. President Biden and Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, Representatives Raúl M. Grijalva (AZ-03) and Susan Wild (PA-07) called on President Biden to address several issues, including ongoing efforts to undermine democracy, threats to human rights, institutionalized attacks against Indigenous peoples, and President Bolsonaro’s support and enactment of policies that are driving record levels of deforestation.
“As Members of Congress who support protecting democracy, human rights, and our planet, we welcome open dialogue between President Biden and President Bolsonaro, as long as discussions focus on substantive concerns.
“‘Building a Sustainable, Resilient, and Equitable Future’ for the Western hemisphere can only be achieved through uplifting—not undermining—democracy and the rule of law. Since President Bolsonaro took office, however, we have seen Brazil led down a path more reminiscent of its authoritarian past than the proud, vibrant democracy the Brazilian people built from the ashes of its military dictatorship. As Brazil’s elections approach, President Biden must send a strong message that efforts to sow distrust in the electoral system, intimidate voters, or endorse violence are unacceptable.
President Biden must also press for a commitment by President Bolsonaro to halt increased efforts to sabotage and strip for-profit Brazil’s critical natural resources, including the severe deforestation of Brazil’s Amazon, as well as unchecked mining on Indigenous lands. President Bolsonaro must respect the rights of Indigenous peoples, which means reining in deforestation, stopping illegal mining, and supporting—rather than dismantling—existing protections afforded to Indigenous populations under the Brazilian Federal Constitution and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
With the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) ranking Brazil among the world’s ten most repressive countries for workers and organized labor throughout Bolsonaro’s presidency, President Biden should express his support for the rights of people and workers in Brazil to organize freely and without fear of violence or intimidation—and make clear that support for the labor movement does not end at our nation’s shores.
Lastly, we share our concerns for the safety of Dom Phillips, a respected journalist, and Bruno Araújo Pereira, an Indigenous expert in the Brazilian Amazon, who have been missing for several days. We call on President Bolsonaro to significantly ramp up search efforts and refrain from making light of this serious situation.
We look forward to working with President Biden and our counterparts in Brazil to pursue shared values and commitments rooted in democracy, protection of human rights and dignity, and respect for our environment.”