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June 20, 2023

Brazil and the Illiberal Anti-U.S. Alliance

US Army War College

R. Evan Ellis

During World War II, Brazil contributed to the security of allied trans-Atlantic shipping routes and sent a division-sized expeditionary force to Italy to help liberate Europe from Hitler and Mussolini’s murderous dictatorships. In 1985, Brazilians rallied around Tancredo Neves and José Sarney to end undemocratic military rule. However, there has been a disturbing shift in Brazil’s view of democracy.

In May 2023, Brazil’s President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva rolled out the red carpet for Venezuelan dictator Nicolás Maduro—a man wanted internationally on a wide range of criminal charges. Lula, however, dismissed these charges as “exaggerated” and just a “narrative.” This in spite of the well-established records of Maduro’s violations of democratic constitutional order, the law, and the more than 7 million Venezuelans his regime’s abuses and mismanagement of the country. While Maduro previously avoided attending the December 2022 Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) meeting in Buenos Aires out of fear that the independent Argentine judiciary would serve an international arrest warrant against him, he apparently did not have similar fears from Lula’s judiciary.

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