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Kaine, Sanders and Colleagues Mark Brazil’s Independence Day with Resolution in Support of Brazilian Democracy, Urging Free, Fair, and Peaceful Elections in October

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, U.S. Senator Tim Kaine, the Chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere, and Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) teamed up with Senators Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) to unveil a resolution supporting democratic institutions in Brazil. The introduction comes on the Independence Day of Brazil and amid efforts by Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro to preemptively reject Brazil’s national election results and sow mistrust and spread misinformation regarding next month’s presidential election in the country, where current polls project he will lose re-election.

The resolution is being led in the U.S. House of Representatives by Representatives Jamie Raskin (MD-08), Raúl M. Grijalva (AZ-03), Sara Jacobs (CA-53), Hank Johnson (GA-04), and Susan Wild (PA-07).

“The United States and Brazil are two of the largest democracies in the Western Hemisphere. At a time when democracy is under attack in Brazil, America, and in countries around the world, we have a duty to stand up for peoples’ fundamental right to shape their futures by having a voice in their government, without fear of political violence or retribution,” said Senator Kaine. “This resolution sends a powerful message that Congress is committed to linking arms with the people of Brazil in that effort and that we will not be silent in the face of any attempts to undermine Brazil’s electoral system.”

“It is absolutely imperative that the U.S. Senate make it clear through this resolution that we support democracy in Brazil,” said Senator Sanders. “It would be unacceptable for the United States to recognize a government that came to power undemocratically, and it would send a horrific message to the entire world. The United States should make it clear that we support the democratic process, and it’s important for the people of Brazil to know we’re on their side, on the side of democracy.”

“A peaceful transfer of power is integral to a strong democracy,” said Senator Merkley. “But Brazil’s Independence Day celebrations today, amid tension and polarization, underscore just how fragile democracy is and the sustained efforts that are required to preserve it. The U.S. must condemn any and all attempts to incite political violence and intimidation to ensure Brazil’s electoral processes remain free and fair.”

“This resolution recognizes the importance of strengthening democracy in Brazil. Our measure is a call to action to preserve Brazil’s democratic institutions,” said Senator Blumenthal.   

 “The fate of Brazil’s democracy, which is under daily attack by President Bolsonaro, and of U.S. relations with Brazil, will be decided in the upcoming election.  The Biden Administration must make it unequivocally clear that the costs of subverting a free and fair election will be immediate and severe,” said Senator Leahy.

“As the people of Brazil prepare to vote this fall, right-wing forces are trying to undermine the integrity of the electoral system and poison the process with authoritarian rhetoric that echoes the violent incitement we heard in America before January 6,” said Congressman Raskin. “This bicameral resolution insists that the upcoming elections in Brazil be free and fair, transparent and peaceful. Democracy is under attack around the world, and we must vigorously defend it everywhere against autocracy, insurrection and disinformation.”

“As Brazil’s elections approach, we continue to call on all individuals seeking office to uphold the values of democracy and endorse free, fair, credible, transparent and peaceful elections. Anything less is unacceptable,” said Congressman Grijalva.  

“The United States is stronger and safer when our values align with our support to foreign governments,” said Congresswoman Jacobs. “I’ve been increasingly alarmed by the rise of authoritarianism in the U.S., Brazil, and around the world that threatens human rights, democracy, and the rule of law. With Brazilians heading to the polls in less than a month to elect their new president, there are legitimate fears that President Jair Bolsonaro may refuse to step down if he loses. This bicameral resolution is critical and draws an important line: the United States should not formally recognize or provide military aid to an illegitimate government.”

Brazilians have sounded the alarm over troubling signs of democratic backsliding in the country, including attacks from government officials on the country’s democratic institutions and rule of law; the kidnapping and murder of advocates and journalists; unfounded attacks on the country’s voting system; and a dramatic increase in violence directed at Brazilian political leaders.

In response, the resolution urges the Government of Brazil to ensure that the upcoming presidential election is conducted in a free, fair, credible, transparent, and peaceful manner that enables all citizens of Brazil to exercise the right to vote. Additionally, the resolution calls for the United States Government to continue to speak out against efforts to incite political violence and undermine the electoral process in Brazil, and to review and reconsider its relationship with any government that comes to power in Brazil through undemocratic means.

Full text of the resolution is available here.