WASHINGTON, March 15 (Reuters) – A senior U.S. official declined on Wednesday at a Senate hearing to comment on the status in the United States of former far-right Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, but said any such request from Brazil would be handled “expeditiously.”
Speaking at a Senate Foreign Relations Committee on the future of relations with Brazil, Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs Brian Nichols said: “We would handle any request from the Brazilian government expeditiously.”
Nichols did not comment on a request for a six-month visa to remain in the United States by Bolsonaro, who left Brazil in December two days before his term ended without conceding defeat at the polls by leftist President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.
Bolsonaro has been accused by the Lula government of inciting riots in Brasilia by his supporters and continuing to maintain that the October elections was manipulated.
Committee Chairman Robert Menendez said Bolsonaro “continues to spew disinformation about Brazil’s election” from Florida.
The ranking Republican on the committee, Jim Risch, criticized the Lula government for not backing the Ukrainian war effort against the Russian invasion, and allowing two warships from Iran to dock in Rio de Janeiro last month.
Risch said he was “disappointed” that Brazil had not agreed to supply German-made artillery ammunition to Ukraine.
Committee members asked about Brazil’s role in fighting climate change by controlling deforestation in the Amazon, which environmentalists say is nearing a tipping point that would turn the tropical rainforest into a net source of carbon emissions.
Deputy Special Presidential Envoy for Climate Richard Duke told the committee environmental cooperation with Brazil needs substantial financial resources that the Biden administration hopes to secure from Congress.
“It’s going to be in the 7-figure range over time,” he said, without detailing an amount.
The United States is expected to join the multilateral Amazon Fund to help sustainability projects in the Amazon. Following Lula’s visit to Washington, the U.S government plans to make an initial donation of $50 million to the fund.