Reps. Susan Wild and Ro Khanna Urge Sec. of State Pompeo to Condemn Human Rights Abuses in Brazil

March 6, 2019
Press Release
Express concern with Trump Administration’s comments praising Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro

PDF iconLetter to Sec. Pompeo on Brazilian President Bolsonaro

WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Representative Susan Wild (PA-07), member of the Foreign Affairs Committee and Vice Chair of the on Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights, and International Organizations, and Representative Ro Khanna (CA-17) led 30 Members of Congress in urging Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to defend human rights in Brazil in light of Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro’s attacks on the rights of the LGBTQ+ community and other minority communities, women, labor activists, and political dissidents.


“We are writing to urge you to publicly emphasize the importance of defending the human rights of the people of Brazil. Since the election of far-right candidate Jair Bolsonaro as president, we have been particularly alarmed by the threat Bolsonaro’s agenda poses to the LGBTQ+ community and other minority communities, women, labor activists, and political dissidents in Brazil,” the lawmakers wrote in the letter to Pompeo. “As our nation’s top diplomat, it is incumbent upon you to represent our nation’s highest values by advocating for the fundamental rights and dignity of all people in Brazil.”


“We must stand with the Brazilian people – especially with so many of Brazil’s dissidents, labor activists, and other fighters for justice and equality risking their safety to speak out against the resurgent forces of authoritarianism, xenophobia, and division. As a member of the Foreign Affairs Committee, I will always urge our leaders to advocate on behalf of the fundamental human rights of all people across the global community,” Wild said. 


“Sec. Pompeo must publicly highlight the importance of defending human rights in Brazil. I implore him to make it clear to the government of Brazil that the U.S. finds Bolsonaro’s threats to the LGBTQ+ community, women, labor activists, and political dissidents in Brazil unacceptable,” said Khanna, who wrote to Pompeo to raise concerns with then-candidate Bolsonaro in 2018.  


In the letter, the lawmakers cite several instances of the Brazilian government’s attempts to undermine the rights of LGBTQ+ and other minority communities, including by signing executive decrees to strip the protected status of LGBTQ+ rights, undermining land protections for indigenous communities and descendants of slaves, removing references to feminism, violence against women, and LGBTQ+ communities from public school textbooks, and undermining unions and workers by eliminating the Ministry of Labor.


The lawmakers also noted their concern for the Trump Administration’s comments praising President Bolsonaro. They wrote, “we are deeply disappointed that—far from expressing the United States’ concern for defending human rights in Brazil—the Administration has made public statements praising Bolsonaro.”


The letter is endorsed by several labor unions, including AFL-CIO, United Steel Workers (USW), United Auto Workers (UAW), and United Food and Commercial Workers Union (UFCW) – which are concerned with attacks on workers’ rights and efforts to undermine the labor movement in Brazil.


Brian Finnegan, AFL-CIO Global Worker Rights Coordinator said, “As the current Brazilian government sows hatred and fear through its speech and actions, the United States should clearly support Brazil's vibrant social movements in their struggle for human rights in Brazil and defend their role in the country's democracy in a period of increasing inequality and ignorant hatred of migrants, workers, and leaders and visionaries committed to social justice in so many countries."


In addition to Wild and Khanna, the letter is signed by Representatives Alan S. Lowenthal (CA-47), Raúl M. Grijalva (AZ-03), James P. McGovern (MA-02), Mark Pocan (WI-02), Jamie Raskin (MD-08), Charlie Crist (FL-13), Ilhan Omar (MN-05), Deb Haaland (NM-01), Brian Higgins (NY-26), José E. Serrano (NY-15), Adriano Espaillat (NY-13), Chris Pappas (NH-01), Angie Craig (MN-02), Bobby Rush (IL-01), Barbara Lee (CA-13), Frank Pallone, Jr. (NJ-06), Eleanor Holmes Norton (DC-At Large), Rosa DeLauro (CT-03), Jan Schakowsky (IL-09), Henry "Hank" Johnson, Jr. (GA-04),  Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (NY-14), Steve Cohen (TN-09), Peter Welch (VT-At Large), Matt Cartwright (PA-08), Andy Levin (MI-09), Pramila Jayapal (WA-07), Jesús “Chuy” Garcia (IL-04), and Ruben Gallego (AZ-07).