January 2, 2019
Ministry of External Relations
SECRETARY POMPEO: Great, thank you. Good morning. It’s great to be here. It was an incredible privilege yesterday to witness the tens of thousands of people lining the streets as I pulled up to the Congresso Nacional. It was heartfelt. It was authentic. The expectations of the Brazilian people are high and deservedly so. I want to congratulate President Bolsonaro, Foreign Minister, yourself, on your new roles. We’re excited to work alongside of you. We know that you intend to make Brazil a safer, more prosperous nation, and please know you have the United States as your partner in doing so.
We had the chance today to talk about the bilateral relationship between our two countries. We believe that the opportunity between President Trump, President Bolsonaro, and our two teams creates a truly transformative opportunity for our two nations, for our two peoples. And we in the United States are committed to working alongside of you to do that in lots of areas, certainly in economic areas, making sure that our two countries’ businesses have great opportunities, but also deeper collaboration on the security front as well. The U.S.-Brazil Permanent Forum launched last year provides a great foundation to further enhance these opportunities.
And we know too we will have the opportunity to work alongside of each other against authoritarian regimes around the world. It heralds – while today heralds a new beginning in Brazil, it also marks 60 years to the day of repression of failed policies in Cuba. And we had a chance today also to talk about the threats that emanate from Venezuela and our deep desire to return democracy to the Venezuelan people as well.
I’ll close with this thought: If we do this well, we can make the lives of the people of Brasilia, the people of the United States, and citizens all around the world better by working together, cooperative, and the Trump administration is determined to do that alongside you. Thank you for hosting me here these last two days. It’s been a real privilege and I’m thrilled at the new administration and all that we can do in the days and weeks ahead.
Thank you, Mr. Foreign Minister.
QUESTION: Bom Dia. Mr. Secretary, my question is: What sort of role does President Trump expect Brazil to play in the coming years? And two fields that you already mentioned, but if you’d go deeper, I would appreciate: First of all, Venezuela and Cuba. Is a military operation on the table or something of that sort with the help of Brazil? And in terms of business, President Trump said a few months ago that Brazil is a hard place to make business and sometimes it is a little bit unfair with American companies. Will it change?
SECRETARY POMPEO: So if I may? Yeah. So let me try and elaborate just a bit in response to your question. So with respect to security issues, it is almost always the case that nations work together best when they come from a set of shared values, and that’s what we find today. We think the people of America and the people of Brazil have a set of shared values in democracy, and liberty, and freedom. I watched the peaceful transition of power take place yesterday. This does not happen all around the world and in many countries. You identified Cuba. We’ve spoken about Venezuela and Nicaragua. These are places that the people of those countries don’t have that opportunity to express their views, to speak their mind, to get government that is responsive to them. These are the kind of things that we intend to work on together.
And so you were talking about modalities, whether there’s an operation. What there is, is a common understanding of this commitment to working closely with partners that share the American set of values. And then for economics, sometimes it is hard for American companies to do business in Brazil, sometimes it’s hard for Brazilian companies to do business in America, as well.
President Trump’s aim is very clear. We want a set of relationships – economic relationships – call them whatever one may. People use the ideas of FTAs and the like, but what’s important is that the relationships, the economic relationships, give the companies and citizens of our two countries real opportunity that is fair, that is reciprocal, that is conducted transparently. Not the same model that is used by some other countries in the world. These should be commercial transactions driven by economics that make lives better for the people of our two countries, not driven by political imperatives from others who want to come to a country and make an investment not for commercial reasons, but for political reasons, to achieve political outcomes. If our two countries share those goals, then I am confident that in the days and weeks ahead, we will deliver a good outcome on those for the Brazilian people and for America.
Mr. Foreign Minister.
MODERATOR: (Via interpreter) From the U.S. press, journalist Mary Milliken.
QUESTION: Bom dia. Parts of Brazil’s civil society have expressed concerns about a possible loss of protection for human rights under this new government. Mr. Secretary, do you share these concerns? And Sr. Ministro, do you have a response?
And if I may, Mr. Secretary, on the detained American in Moscow, do you believe this is retaliation for the Maria Butina case, and what do you intend to do about it?
SECRETARY POMPEO: Foreign Minister, let me let you go first on the human rights issue and I’ll follow up and then I’ll answer the final question.
SECRETARY POMPEO: Thanks. I’d add only this: The United States is ever mindful of ensuring that countries treat each of their citizens with dignity and respect. It doesn’t happen every place in the world. Where we find it is inadequate, we call it out. We’re very consistent about that and we do our best to effect that, to make clear that it is unacceptable, that we expect every country to behave in a way that treats their citizens with the dignity and respect they deserve as human beings. We expect that everywhere in the world. That certainly includes here. And our conversation this morning makes clear to me that this administration’s committed to it as well.
With respect to Mr. Whelan, who is being held, we are hopeful within the next hours we will get consular access to see him and get a chance to learn more. We’ve made clear to the Russians our expectation that we will learn more about the charges, come to understand what it is he’s been accused of, and if the detention is not appropriate, we will demand his immediate return.