BRASÍLIA – Foreign Minister Ernesto Araújo has decided to resign. The chancellor himself passed the information on to his subordinates. According to Planalta sources, the chancellor and president will have another meeting at 5 p.m. Ernesto told Bolsonar he did not want to pose a problem to the government. Government officials Araújo’s departure is expected to be officially official this Monday.
With Araúj’s departure, Planalto Palace would like to appoint another diplomat for the post. The most popular names are Nestor Forster, who represents Brazil in the United States, and Luis Fernando Serra, who is in France.
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Considered the most esteemed for the position, the Brazilian ambassador to France is facing resistance in Congress and even in the Foreign Ministry for holding a similar stance to Ernest Araúj. It is estimated that the exchange would not necessarily mean a change in foreign policy.
Serra is close to the Chief Secretary of the General Secretariat of the Presidency, Onyx Lorenzoni, and his appearance at the head of the embassy in Paris has delighted Bolsonar. In September 2019, the ambassador canceled his participation in an event with academics in the French capital to pay tribute to Rio de Janeiro City Councilor Marielle Franco, killed in 2018. In May last year, the ambassador came out in defense of Bolsonara and accused the French newspaper Le Monde of distorted the facts, after the daily published an editorial criticizing the president for denying the seriousness of the pandemic and politicizing the health crisis. “Something is rotten in Brazil.”
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Brazil’s ambassador to Washington (USA), Nestor Forster, is also an option that parliament will find hard to accept. The diplomat is aligned with Araúja and close to Deputy Eduardo Bolsonar (PSL-SP). Forster is also close to right-wing guru Olav de Carvalho, but is considered more competent and skillful than the current chancellor.
Assistants also suggested that Bolsonaro consider Ambassador Carlos Alberto Franco Franço, the current chief assistant to the Presidency. Before taking that role late last year, he was head of the ceremony at the Planalto Palace and became one of the president’s aides.
The Special Secretary for Strategic Affairs, Admiral Flávio Rocha, is considered a remote alternative. Although there is a great crowd among the ambassadors, the fact that he is a military man is dissatisfied with him. Rocha also took over responsibility for the Secretariat for Special Communications (Secom) this month.
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Agriculture Minister Tereza Cristina is looking forward to both parliamentarians and ambassadors, but has repeatedly confirmed that she is not interested in changing the portfolio. Politicians are circulating the names of former President and Senator Fernando Collor (PROS-AL) and Senator Nelsinha Trad (PSD-MS).
Congress questioned Araúj. Last week, Chamber President Artur Lira and Senate Rodrigo Pacheco put pressure on President Jair Boldonar to remove the chancellor. The lyre went so far as to say that Araújo had lost the ability to dialogue with countries. For Centrão, the minister imposes obstacles to buying vaccines from China and India.
This Sunday, Araújo even said that the pressure from Congress was due to interests related to 5G technology, not because of the Covid-19 vaccine. Senator Kátia Abreu (PP-TO), chairwoman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, reacted to the minister’s statement by saying, in a note, that Brazil could no longer have a “marginal face” and pressed the minister’s exit again.
Criticisms of foreign policy and strategies adopted by Araújo include deteriorating relations with China, Brazil’s main trading partner since 2009. Now the Asian country is also emerging as a supplier of raw materials for the Oxford / Astrazeneca vaccine, produced jointly by the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation (Fiocruz) and CoronaVac, which was developed by Sinovac Biotech in partnership with the Butantan Institute.
Change in foreign policy
GLOBO heard 11 active diplomats who have served in various countries of America, the Middle East and Asia about Araúj’s legacy. According to their assessment, a complete reconstruction of Brazil’s foreign policy will be needed, both in bilateral relations with important partners, such as the United States, China and Argentina, and with the European Union and multilateral organizations.
Diplomats cited Brazil’s recent defeats in international elections as a sign of the country’s loss of strength.