Brazil's new President Jair Bolsonaro said on Thursday that he would be open to the possibility of the United States operating a military base on his country's soil, a move that would form a sharp shift in direction for Brazilian foreign policy.
Brazil's new far-right President Jair Bolsonaro said on Thursday he was open to discussing his country hosting a US military base "in the future," underlining his stated desire for closer ties with America.
"Depending on what might happen in the world, who knows if we might have to talk about that subject in the future," the 63-year-old former paratrooper, who took office this week, told SBT television.
"The physical issue of it might be just symbolic. Currently, American, Chinese, Russian armed forces manage to project themselves all around the world without bases," he added.
Bolsonaro has pledged a new direction for Brazil, away from its years of centrist and leftist politics that sought an independent path from the United States, which played a preponderant role in Latin America during the Cold War.
Two countries now "are friends"
He told US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Wednesday that their two countries now "are friends," and has aligned himself with Washington by expressing hostility to Chinese investment in Brazil, and against the "authoritarian regimes" of leftist-ruled Venezuela, Cuba and Nicaragua.
In the interview, his first since becoming leader of Latin America's biggest economy Bolsonaro said he was "concerned" about Russian air force participation in military drills in Venezuela in early December.
"We know what the intentions of the government of (Venezuelan President Nicolas) Maduro are. Brazil must be concerned about that," he said.
He added: "My move toward the United States is economic, but it could be military as well. We could sign an accord in that area. We don't want to be a superpower in South America, but to my way of thinking we should have supremacy."
Bolsonaro, who has expressed nostalgia for the 1964-1985 military dictatorship that ruled Brazil with the approval of the United States, said that the country's armed forces had been "abandoned" over the past two decades because "they are the last obstacle to socialism."
The new president has vowed to eradicate the centrist and leftist politics of previous governments, especially those of the Workers Party that governed between 2003 and 2016.
Venezuela's president regularly accuses the United States of fomenting unrest against his socialist government. He recently alleged that the US was plotting armed incidents on Venezuela's borders with Brazil and Colombia to provide a pretext for a military intervention.