Remarks by Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield at a Press Conference in Brasilia, Brazil

Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield
U.S. Representative to the United Nations
Brasilia, Brazil
May 4, 2023


AMBASSADOR LINDA THOMAS-GREENFIELD: Thank you all for being here.

My three-day visit to Brazil reinforced what I have always known to be true: The relationship between the United States and Brazil is enduring. It is strong. And it is built on shared values.

Right after I arrived on Tuesday, I headed to the University of Brasilia’s Institute for International Relations. The young leaders in the room left me inspired. They are ready – and they’re eager – to take on today’s most pressing global challenges.

From there, I met with First Lady “Janja” da Silva – a true champion of efforts to combat discrimination and reduce inequality. We discussed these shared challenges – and worked through potential shared solutions. And let me just say as a fellow woman leader, I am proud to see that Janja is taking on such an important role advancing these key policy priorities.

I then sat down with Foreign Minister Mauro Vieira to discuss how the U.S. is helping create quality, dignified jobs for Brazilians, the importance of protecting democracy, promoting human rights, and addressing the climate crisis. We had an engaging conversation focused on how Brazil and the United States can continue to work together to tackle these problems. We discussed how “Brazil is back” — and how the United States has Brazil’s back.

And to close out that day, I had a productive working dinner with leading Brazilian senators, including Senator Jacques Wagner. It was great to hear their perspectives on the long-term, strategic U.S.-Brazil relationship.

On Wednesday, I headed east to Salvador. And I was proud to be the first U.S. cabinet-level official to visit Salvador since 2008. Salvador, the heart of Black Brazil, represents both the historic wrongs of racism and the optimistic future we hope to build.

And my visit was all about building this future – one of equity and inclusion. As you know, President Lula has made this a key priority – as has President Biden. These issues were front and center during my meeting with Governor Jeronimo Rodrigues, Brazil’s first Indigenous governor. And they were front and center during my meeting with Minister Anielle Franco. Minister Franco and I issued a joint statement that reaffirms our shared commitment to the U.S.-Brazil Joint Action Plan to Eliminate Racial and Ethnic Discrimination and Promote Equality. And I was pleased to be joined by our Special Representative for Racial Equity and Justice Desirée Cormier Smith.

Of course, I couldn’t go to Salvador and not take in the rich Afro-Brazilian culture and history. So in the afternoon, I met with leaders from Olodum – a group with a long history of fighting discrimination and promoting socioeconomic equality. And I enjoyed a musical performance by students from Escola Olodum. They even let me join in the drumming. I also got to try moqueca, which actually reminded me of one of my own favorite dishes to cook – gumbo. And let me tell you: it really was delicious. I think I have to try that recipe and add it to my repertoire.

Today, I’m back here in Brasilia – and I started the day with an inspiring, very inspiring environmental leader, Aline Souza da Silva. Aline won the U.S. Mission’s 2023 “Brazilian Women Making a Difference Award” for her leadership on recycling, climate, and social justice. The United States is committed – we’re committed to lifting up and working with leaders like Aline – and to supporting efforts to fight climate change and deforestation.

And that’s why we were proud to make a $500 million pledge to the Amazon Fund and related efforts. These climate initiatives were a focus of my conversations with Special Advisor for International Affairs Celso Amorim. Special Advisor Amorim and I also discussed a host of other issues – including our deep economic ties, the situation in Haiti, Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine, the Venezuela regional crisis, and how to make the UN fit for purpose in the 21st century.

Venezuela was also the focus of my next – and final – public engagement. At the UNHCR-funded Aldeias Infantis SOS Shelter, I heard directly from Venezuelan migrants. I’m so grateful to those who were willing to share with me their stories. And I’m so grateful to the shelter’s staff for all that they do to support those in need – including children who need surgery and medical care.

I’m leaving Brazil today full of optimism. As productive as my meetings in Brasilia have been, I was happy to get out of town and see more than just the halls of the capital. To meet Brazilians where they are. Activists tackling racial inequality and racism. Innovators working on solutions to the climate crisis. Children preparing to be the leaders of tomorrow.

And let me end by saying this: the future of U.S.-Brazil relationships – our relationship – is bright. And I look forward to continuing to work closely with my Brazilian counterparts in New York through our partnership on the UN Security Council. From tackling climate change and racial inequality, to strengthening our already deep economic ties, the United States is committed to working hand in hand with Brazil in taking on our shared challenges together.

As President Biden has said, “There are no limits to what our nations can achieve by working together.”

Thank you. And with that, I welcome your questions.

MODERATOR: We’ll start there. Yeah. Thank you.

QUESTION: Hello. Good afternoon. I’m (inaudible) for the Folha de S.Paulo newspaper. I have two quick questions. About your meeting with Advisor Celso Amorim, one of the topics that’s being discussed in Brazil is about (inaudible) Celso Amorim will eventually visit Ukraine. It’s something that people say, could be necessary to show that Brazil has a balanced approach to the conflict. So in your conversation with Celso Amorim, is it possible to know about when this – did he talk about when this visit could take place? Is it something that’s been scheduled for the next weeks, months, or there’s no data, he didn’t mention any date?

My second question is about Haiti. Brazil was involved in a peacekeeping mission in Haiti a few years ago, and with the current situation in Haiti, I want to know whether the U.S. considers that in the case of (inaudible) the case of a demand from the government, does the U.S. believe that Brazil could play a similar role in terms of a similar mission, or is this kind of a solution, this kind of approach is not being considered at the moment? Thank you very much.

AMBASSADOR THOMAS-GREENFIELD: Good. Thank you for both questions. And yes, we did discuss both subjects. I did express our disappointment in the statements that were made regarding Ukraine, and as part of that discussion, I have encouraged Brazilians, including Special Advisor Amorim, to go to Ukraine. And it’s important that any efforts at negotiation include Ukraine in those discussions. He did confirm for me that he has plans to go to Ukraine. I did not get a date for that, but my assumption is that it’s going to be soon.

On Haiti, both of our countries are frustrated by the situation on the ground in Haiti. We talked about some options for how we might move forward on addressing those issues, particularly in the Security Council. And we committed to working together to look to solutions to address the issue more directly.

MODERATOR: We have time for maybe one more or two more. 

QUESTION: Thank you. Ambassador, in your conversations today, did you get – did you find that Brazil has come closer to the Western view of the war in Ukraine or does it still share a view that both the Ukraine and Russia are to blame for this war?

AMBASSADOR THOMAS-GREENFIELD: Look, early on in this war, we put forward a resolution in the General Assembly condemning Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and Brazil supported that resolution. Brazil supported the resolution condemning Russia’s annexations, or attempted annexations, in Ukraine. And they supported the most recent resolution, the peace resolution on Ukraine.

Our concern is that any peace discussions on Ukraine be rooted in the UN Charter, it be rooted in the values that we all hold and I know that Brazil holds. In my discussions with government officials over the past two days, they reaffirmed their commitments to addressing this issue from both sides. We’re not telling Brazil not to engage on peace. What we have said is that any engagement has to take Ukraine into account, and it cannot be a negotiation based on rewarding Russia for taking Ukraine territory during their unprovoked war on Ukraine. 

MODERATOR: Thank you.

QUESTION: Sergey Cherkasov – did you bring up that case?

AMBASSADOR THOMAS-GREENFIELD: I did not discuss that case. 

MODERATOR: All right. Thanks, everyone. Sorry, that’s all we have time for. We’ve got to get to the airport. Sorry. Thank you.