On October 14, U.S. Representative Hank Johnson (D-GA) led 63 other members of the House of Representatives* in a letter to President Biden urging the administration to leverage its influence to confront Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro’s pursuit of policies that threaten the country’s democratic rule, human rights, public health, and the environment. The Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA), alongside eight other U.S. civil society organizations**, endorsed this call to action.
In the letter to President Biden, Representative Johnson and colleagues note how President Bolsonaro is “among the leading examples of the global trend toward illiberal and authoritarian politics.” Throughout his tenure, he has rolled back protection for Afro-Brazilian, Indigenous, and LGBT+ individuals; loosened environmental regulations that protect the Amazon rainforest from rampant deforestation; enforced a hardline, militarized approach to law enforcement, resulting in a multiplicity of human rights violations; irresponsibly addressed the COVID-19 pandemic and refused to implement critical public health policies; and most recently made controversial statements encouraging his supporters to denounce the credibility of the 2022 electoral results.
The representatives requested that the Biden administration undertake an urgent review of U.S.-Brazil relations, including a request to rescind the Trump-era designation of Brazil as a Major Non-NATO Ally (MNNA). Bolsonaro cited the designation as approval from the United States for political benefit and the Biden administration should take an adamant stand that the U.S. government has serious issues with the human rights, democratic and environmental violations occurring in Brazil.
WOLA is grateful to Representative Johnson and his colleagues for taking a stand against the rising trends of authoritarianism in Brazil, and encourage the Biden-Harris administration to take heed of the recommendations to prevent Brazil’s democratic backsliding.
Read the full letter here.
The following Members of Congress expressed support by signing the letter:
Cosigners (63): Reps. Rashida Tlaib, Karen Bass, Jesús G. “Chuy” García, Eleanor Holmes Norton, David N. Cicilline, Alan Lowenthal, Ilhan Omar, Ayanna Pressley, Mark Pocan, Susan Wild, Jim Costa, Maxine Waters, Adriano Espaillat, Raul M. Grijalva, Jan Schakowsky, Cori Bush, Zoe Lofgren, Sylvia R. Garcia, Juan Vargas, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Donald M. Payne, Jr., Tony Cárdenas, Pramila Jayapal, Mondaire Jones, Brenda L. Lawrence, Jamaal Bowman, Ro Khanna, Veronica Escobar, James P. McGovern, Donald S. Beyer Jr., Steve Cohen, Yvette D. Clarke, Daniel T. Kildee, David Trone, Bill Pascrell, Jr., Joaquin Castro, Anna G. Eshoo, Andy Levin, Nydia M. Velazquez, Rosa L. DeLauro, Katherine M. Clark, Peter Welch, Jimmy Gomez, Linda T. Sánchez, Frank Pallone, Jr., Jerrold Nadler, Danny K. Davis, Jared Huffman, Jamie Raskin, Earl Blumenauer, Grace F. Napolitano, Suzanne Bonamici, Bobby L. Rush, Bonnie Watson Coleman, Lucille Roybal-Allard, Peter A. DeFazio, Dwight Evans, James R. Langevin, Barbara Lee, Nanette Diaz Barragán, Lloyd Doggett, Jerry McNerney, Debbie Dingell.
The following organizations endorsed this call to action:
AFL-CIO, Service Employees International Union (SEIU), Amazon Watch, Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA), Greenpeace USA, Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR), Just Foreign Policy (JFP), U.S Network for Democracy in Brazil, United Food & Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW).