U.S. historian James N. Green is a Professor of Modern Latin American History and Professor of Brazilian History and Culture at Brown University, Rhode Island, and National Co-Coordinator of the US Network for Democracy in Brazil.
Author of four books on Brazil: Beyond Carnival, We Cannot Remain Silent: Opposition to the Brazilian Military, Exile Within Exiles: Herbert Daniel, Gay Brazilian Revolutionary, and Brazil: Five Centuries of Change, Green lived in Brazil under the Geisel and Figueiredo regimes.
After graduation in the mid 1970s Green travelled through Central America and arrived in Brazil in 1976, settling in São Paulo, where he lived until 1982, working as an English teacher and studying political science in the University of São Paulo (USP). It was there that he became active in the anti-dictatorship movement.
Decades later, Green established the ‘Opening the Archives‘ at Brown, a project that made available over 40,000 U.S. government documents about Brazil from the dictatorship period.
The US Network for Democracy in Brazil recently presented the Biden administration with a policy document, urging him not to make concessions to Brazil’s far-right regime and to end behind closed doors negotiations with Bolsonaro and his allies.
In an interview with Nathalia Urban and Brian Mier for Globalistas on 247, Green was asked about Brazil’s conjuncture; specifically whether he thought the Biden administration would try to intervene in the 2022 election, and if he thought the new U.S. president would support Lula against neofascist Bolsonaro.
James N. Green:
“I think they’re going to want someone from the center-right, the third way.
There’s affinity between large sectors of the Democratic party, sectors that supported Fernando Cardoso in the past, and the candidates that they determine that the center-right will support. But I think that this sector will not win in the elections, I think that this political sector will not have sufficient weight for an election.
I think the great danger is that Bolsonaro will copy the same Trump rhetoric, saying that the elections will be fraudulent if there are no paper ballots. I do not know if the state is capable of totally modifying all the voting machines to be able to do that, so he will definitely use it, with the military forces he has supporting him, with the militias and others, I think this is a great danger.
But I don’t discount the possibility that sectors of the American government will do everything possible against Lula, if they think it is…it will be interesting.”
Green then remembers the first time Lula was elected president, and his relationship with U.S. president George W. Bush, which although cordial on the surface, saw serious disagreement over the war on terror, the FTAA free trade agreement, other foreign and domestic policy issues.
“[…] At another time, in 2002/2003, I participated in the founding of another network, the Brazil Strategy Network. We thought that the Bush government would be very aggressive the newly elected government of Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, but Lula hugged Bush in the White House, they had a good relationship.
I can’t say that there was direct antagonism from the Bush government towards the Brazilian government – at least the Brazilian government did not concede to this nefarious process during the Bush government in its internal policy.
We can recognize and remember that it was the Obama administration who tapped President Dilma Rousseff’s phone, and that it was during the Obama administration that there was support for Operation Car Wash.
So i think, i mean it is possible, and historically there was precedent, but i think it is not necessarily what will happen.
I think it is possible that Lula is elected president and the Americans understand that they were unable to get him out.
I think that the American government wants Bolsonaro out in fact. They can’t get him out through Doria, or Huck, or Moro, all these people, the “Presidenciáveis” who are being pushed now by Folha do S.Paulo, I think they are going to make a deal, a deal with Lula, and Lula is able to try to make a deal with the United States, just as in the past.
This is one of his ever present talents, always looking for a way to negotiate and maintain a favorable situation.
So let’s see, I think that this possibility is very open and is not to be discounted, but if the political strength is sufficient, I think the American government will have to accept it, to adapt to the new Brazilian reality after Bolsonaro.”
Asked again specifically if he thought Biden would back Lula over Bolsonaro, Green reiterated:
“[…]I don’t know if he (Biden) is going to take a stand publicly.
I think it is possible, but I think it is not likely that he will put any energy into the Bolsonaro government again, because Bolsonaro for Biden represents Trump. I think it is more interesting for him to support João Doria or whatever candidate that is offered up by the center-right. But I think that these people will find it difficult to reach the second round.
It could be Lula against Doria in the second round – that Bolsonaro uses all of his electoral powers, and still is not the second most voted in the elections.
So let’s see what Biden will do at that moment.”