BRASILIA – Secretary of State Mike Pompeo asked the Brazilian foreign minister last Saturday whether his country would not support the government of Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro.
The US State Department announced last Saturday that during the contact with Brazilian Foreign Minister Ernesto Araújo, the reaffirmation of “the close friendship between the United States and Brazil” was announced, and for the continuation to work together to “face the political, economic and humanitarian issues in Venezuela” was urged.
Universidade Federal Fluminense (UFF) international relations expert, Eduardo Heleno, said that Brazil’s alignment with the US may represent the “outsourcing” of US interests in the region.
“Brazil may be heading for an action that would be a kind of ‘outsourcing’ of US interests,” he said.
“One thing we have to put at the beginning is that the Maduro government really is going through a great crisis, there are a lot of accusations about human rights, but we understand that for now they are issues with the sovereignty of Venezuela. This Pompeo phone call that was made at the end of the week gives continuity to other contacts that have been made since the beginning of the [Bolsonaro] government, and it seems to me a little worrying,” said Eduardo Heleno.
According to him, the position of being guided by US interests in relation to the Venezuelan crisis strips Brazil of the status of regional leadership.
“Brazil, by pressing, and not having autonomy in terms of foreign policy thinking and only being guided by American thought as has happened, loses its regional leadership status,” he said.
According to the scholar, this rapprochement between Jair Bolsonaro and Donald Trump comes “between two political groups that have more radical positions, and these radical positions can help close some important ports for Brazil.”
In commenting on the situation of Venezuela’s internal politics, Eduardo Heleno highlighted the importance of the military, which, according to him, have “carried out a series of actions that guarantee the legitimacy of the government.”
“One of them is the logistical issue: the military is directly involved in the logistical issue, helping to bring food to the population, and a series of activities linked to the state branch, the military are present – companies linked to the steel industry is linked to the military, there is even a television channel of the military,” said the expert.
“So the military have a very important role, which was given by Maduro, and this helps to explain the maintenance of it and the difficulty that the opposition has in getting [to overthrow the government], although with Guaidó’s appearance some officers and soldiers have flirted in favor of Guaidó,” said Eduardo Heleno.
The crisis in Venezuela worsened in January, when US-backed opposition leader Juan Guaidó proclaimed himself the country’s interim president. Maduro remains in power backed by countries such as China and Russia, among others, and accuses Guaidó of conspiring to overthrow him with the support of Washington.