SAO PAULO --- In an interview with financial newspaper Valor Econômico Brazil's sitting Minister of Defense General Fernando Azevedo e Silva cast skepticism on the proposal put forward by recently inaugurated President Jair Bolsonaro calling for the potential establishment of a United States Military base in Brazil.
On January 3, President Bolsonaro suggested in a televised interview on SBT News that he would be open to the installation of a U.S military base on Brazilian soil in response to the December 2018 announcement that Russia intends to establish strategic air facilities on the island of La Orchila in neighboring Venezuela.
In his interview with Valor Econômico, Defense Minister Silva stated that although he recognized the subject as a complex one that need be carefully evaluated in light of developments in the regional security environment, that at the present time he did not see sufficient reason for such the establishment of a U.S Military base on Brazilian soil.
Bolsonaro's comments come at a period of increased tensions between Brazil and neighboring Venezuela resulting from both a deteriorating security environment and profound ideological differences. The Presidencies of Bolsnaro, a former military officer who has praised the military dictatorship that ruled the country and threatened in campaign speeches to purge left-wing movements and their supporters from Brazilian politics and that of Venezuela's Nicolas Maduro, the autocratic heir to the left-wing populist government of Hugo, are two extreme representations of the dueling ideological currents that have prevailed in Latin America since the Cold War.
The knock-on effects Venezuela's ongoing economic crisis have likewise further strained the relationship between the two countries as significant refugee flows, now numbering in the tens of thousands of people, continuously flow into Brazil's increasingly strained northern border regions.
As President Bolsonaro's proposal arose in the context of an informal interview rather than through official policy channels the United States has yet to issue a response on the matter, but at the time of writing there is little to indicate that the United States would be willing to reciprocate such an offer.
Although the United States has gradually increased the pressure of financial sanctions on the Venezuelan Government and sitting President Donald Trump briefly raised the prospect of a 'military option' in reference to the Venezuelan crisis in August of 2017, Bolsonaro's discussion of a U.S basing permanent structure is currently best understood in the context of geopolitical signaling rather than a likely policy outcome in the near term.