Dear Brazilian friends,
This week marks my final week as U.S. Ambassador to Brazil, and I cannot depart without taking the opportunity to reflect on how much this experience has meant to me. I am forever grateful to the Brazilian people for their welcome and their friendship, not only during my tenure as Ambassador, but throughout the twelve years I have spent in this amazing country.
I first moved to Brazil as a child in 1974. My adolescence likely had much in common with many Brazilians. I listened to MPB (Gal Gosta and Djavan were personal favorites), swapped trading cards of Carlos Alberto and Roberto Rivelino, and snacked on sonha de valsas and pão de queijo with my Brazilian friends, some of whom I have kept for a lifetime. These are just some of the sights, sounds, and joys of Brazil–a country of great heart, great strength, and great promise.
Brazil’s heart is its people. Brazilians and Americans share so much history, so many values, and our propensity for treating strangers like friends. Brazilians and Americans are deeply, culturally connected.
This profound connection also means deep heartbreak when we witness each other’s suffering. We have mourned together as we both lost loved ones to COVID-19. And now, we join in hope, as vaccine supplies grow in Brazil and we continue together to fight this terrible disease. The millions of dollars in U.S. donations of vaccines, ventilators, medicines and supplies is part of an ongoing partnership that will help lift us both out of this difficult period.
If Brazil’s heart is its people, Brazil’s strength is its democracy. As citizens of the two biggest democracies in the Western Hemisphere, we share a commitment to promote and defend democratic values globally. As I have traveled through Brazil, I have met impressive leaders in municipal and state governments, entrepreneurs and innovators, activists and journalists, and passionate people from all sectors of society. These roles not only all have places in a democratic society–they are essential to it.
Brazil’s promise is endless. With its world-famous natural beauty and enormous abundance of resources, Brazil has the opportunity to lead the world in fighting climate change and protecting the natural world. I am confident and hopeful you will. In my lifetime, I have seen millions of Brazilians lifted from poverty, and the development of an economy characterized by energy and innovation. Despite the pandemic, together we have made real progress advancing initiatives which promote greater prosperity for Brazilians and Americans alike. I wish to thank President Jair Bolsonaro, his ministers, and all Brazilian Government officials for their productive cooperation in advancing the US-Brazil partnership. I am optimistic about Brazil’s future and this relationship.
As my time in Brazil draws to a close, so does 30 years in service to the U.S. government and the American people. When I first began my career doing consular work in Taiwan, I could only dream of concluding my career as U.S. Ambassador to Brazil. Indeed, some dreams do come true. It is truly the honor of my career.
Like most Brazilians, my wife Janetta and I treasure our relationships with friends and family, especially our children Joshua, Jason and daughter-in-law Brooke. While it is bittersweet to leave Brazil, our adventures will continue with our family in Denver, Colorado. And if our personal history is any indication, we are sure to be back in Brazil frequently.
It may be the end of this chapter, but it is not the end of the book.
Thank you to the government and the people of Brazil for your friendship and trust. Until next time–a gente se vê!