WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Jim Risch (R-Idaho), ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, today gave the following opening remarks at a full committee hearing on the future of U.S.-Brazil relations. The witnesses included The Honorable Brian Nichols, assistant secretary of State for Western Hemisphere affairs, and Mr. Richard Duke, deputy special presidential envoy for climate.
Ranking Member Risch gave the following remarks:
“Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
“The United States has an enduring interest in a prosperous, democratic, and stable Western Hemisphere. Strong relations with Brazil are important to attain these goals.
“Next year, we will celebrate 200 years of diplomatic relations. The administration should seize this moment with a bold bilateral agenda.
“Such an agenda should include deepening our security and commercial relations, working with Brazil against malign state and nonstate influences, and encouraging Brazilian support for the Organization of American States.
“Like other emerging economies in Latin America, Brazilians have benefited enormously from the international norms and institutions created, and led by us, at the end of World War II.
“Those norms and institutions have helped Brazil become a top destination for U.S. foreign direct investments, which are crucial to the stability and prosperity of the country.
“At the same time, Brazil has drawn increasing attention from malign foreign influences, such as China, Russia, and Iran. The Brazilian people should ensure their sovereignty and freedoms are not compromised by these malign actors.
“There is deep concern about President da Silva’s recent decision to welcome two sanctioned Iranian warships into Brazilian ports. More importantly, President Biden should have canceled his meeting with President da Silva. I am disturbed by reports that the president instead just asked them to move the port visit until after their meeting.
“I was also disappointed President da Silva turned down Germany’s request for ammunition Ukraine needs to defend its sovereign territory against the unprovoked Russian invasion and occupation.
“We should also remember that while the title of this hearing focuses on Brazil, there are many other challenges in the Western Hemisphere.
“The illegal immigration and illicit narcotics trafficking crises at our southwest border are relentless – the administration’s response is to waste taxpayer’s money abroad and weaken enforcement of immigration laws at home.
“Venezuela is an unabated disaster. Last week marked one year since Ambassador Story and White House officials sat with Maduro to find accommodation with the regime.
“The results have included pardoned corrupt criminals, division among democratic forces, and legitimacy for Maduro – but no progress on restoring democracy in that country.
“Colombia, for the first time in two decades, has failed to eradicate a single hectare of coca. Seizures of heroin and cocaine have dramatically fallen while their production has increased.
“Haiti has no constitutional government, faces growing levels of violence, and is the epicenter of a migration crisis overwhelming communities in Florida. The administration’s response is to wait for Canada to take the lead.
“I look forward to hearing from Ambassador Nichols on the administration’s approach to these issues and our relations with Brazil more broadly.
“Thanks to our witnesses. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.”
These remarks have been lightly edited for clarity. Witness testimony is available on foreign.senate.gov.