Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro said on Monday he is working with the U.S. government to sow dissent within the Venezuelan army. Bolsonaro, during an interview with Jovem Pan Radio, said that if there is a military invasion in Venezuela, he would seek the counsel of Brazil's National Defense Council and Congress on what, if any, action his country should take.
"It is our intention and that of the Americans that there is a rift in the army, because it is they who still support Maduro. It is the armed forces that decide whether a country lives in a democracy or in a dictatorship," Bolsonaro said, adding that he does not see any future for Venezuela in its present state. "We cannot allow Venezuela to become a new Cuba or North Korea," he added.
While Bolsonaro's bold statements regarding cooperation with Washington have put all eyes on South America, the country's Vice President Hamilton Mourão back in February flatly rejected that Brazil would aid the U.S. military in any way should the U.S. decide to intervene militarily, and stressed that such a decision would be up to the Brazilian Congress to decide.
A Trump-Bolsonaro bond could see the leaders of the Americas' two most populous democracies working in concert on a range of regional issues. Most pressing is the crisis in Venezuela, where the United States, Brazil and dozens of other countries, have recognized opposition leader Juan Guaido as interim president with the goal of pushing President Nicolas Maduro from power. The tough-talking Bolsonaro has long expressed his admiration for U.S. President Donald Trump. He echoes the U.S. leader in spurning multilateral organizations and leftist politics, while promoting businesses over environmental concerns at home.
As is typical of Trump, he has said that "all options are on the table." He's repeated this line many times over during his presidency, including regarding Daesh, Russia and North Korea. "What can Brazil do? Suppose there is a military invasion there [from the U.S.]. The decision will be mine, but I will listen to the National Defense Council and then the parliament," Bolsonaro pledged.
Bolsonaro follows Trump's foreign policy in the Middle East, especially regarding Israel and Venezuela. His first foreign trip is a sign of just how important he sees his relationship with Trump. During his election campaign last year, the right-winger imitated Trump's strategy and promised to join the handful of countries that have moved their embassies in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.