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Archive for Brazil

Newsline: Brazilian President met US ambassador just days before testing positive for COVID-19

President Jair Bolsonaro was at the US Embassy in Brasília and closely interacting with America’s top diplomat in the country just days before announcing he’d tested positive for COVID-19. “Everyone knew that it would reach a considerable part of the population sooner or later. It was positive for me,” Bolsonaro said on Tuesday of his most recent COVID-19 test. The Brazilian leader, who has repeatedly downplayed the threat of the virus, had been tested for the virus four times over the past several months. (https://www.businessinsider.com/bolsonaro-with-us-ambassador-just-days-before-covid-19-diagnosis-2020-7) Bolsonaro went to the US Embassy in the Brazilian capital on Saturday for a July 4th celebration. Photos from the event show the Brazilian president sitting close to US ambassador to Brazil Todd Chapman. Based on the images, Bolsonaro and others, including the ambassador, were not wearing face masks at the time.

Newsline: China’s Diplomats Are Going on the Offensive in Brazil

The major Brazilian newspaper O Globo published an op-ed by Li Yang, China’s consul general in Rio de Janeiro, in response to comments made by Member of Congress Eduardo Bolsonaro, President Jair Bolsonaro’s son, in which he referred to the novel coronavirus as the “China virus.” Readers likely expected a run-of-the-mill article underlining the importance of China-Brazil ties, perhaps with a light slap on the wrist. But Li had something else in mind entirely. Attacking the Brazilian lawmaker harshly, the Chinese diplomat wondered whether Bolsonaro had been “brainwashed by the United States,” a nation that, Li pointed out, had offered a “horrible performance” in the combat against the pandemic. The author then threatened the member of Congress, writing that “should any country insist on being China’s enemy, we will be its most sophisticated enemy!” (https://foreignpolicy.com/2020/05/15/chinas-diplomats-are-going-on-the-offensive-in-brazil/) Until very recently, it would have been unthinkable for a Chinese government envoy to publish such a broadside against an elected official in Brazil. Newspaper interviews with Chinese diplomats are traditionally formal and have generated virtually no visibility—the exact opposite of Li’s bombshell, which circulated widely. On Twitter, the Chinese Embassy in Brazil—which during the recent spats with the president’s son briefly overtook its U.S. counterpart in terms of the number of followers—now directly lashes out against anyone who dares to criticize China and, in an unmistakable swipe against President Bolsonaro, publicized a meeting in early April between Ambassador Yang Wanming and Brazil’s then-Minister of Health Luiz Henrique Mandetta, who was at the time one of the president’s most formidable political foes. (Mandetta was sacked 10 days later.) The ambassador’s decision to meet the minister of health to discuss the pandemic at a moment when Mandetta was publicly clashing with Brazil’s president on how to combat the coronavirus was widely interpreted as Beijing taking a clear stance against Bolsonaro’s denialism. To grasp how dramatic this shift in China’s diplomatic strategy is, it is worth remembering Beijing’s very different response to a previous crisis two years ago. When then-presidential candidate Jair Bolsonaro visited Taiwan and attacked China on the campaign trail in early 2018—promising, via Twitter, to break with, as he described it, previous governments’ habit of being “friendly with communists”—the Chinese Embassy in Brasília opted for a measured response and issued a letter of protest typical for such occasions.

Newsline: Brazil’s top court blocks Bolsonaro move to expel Venezuelan diplomats

A Supreme Court judge issued an injunction on Saturday suspending for 10 days a decision by Brazil’s right-wing President Jair Bolsonaro to expel Venezuela’s 30 diplomats and consular staff. Bolsonaro and Brazil’s Foreign Ministry had given Venezuela until Saturday to remove its diplomats in the latest chapter of worsening relations between the ideologically opposed neighbors. Justice Luis Roberto Barroso took up an injunction request from a Workers Party lawmaker that argued the expulsion could violate Brazil’s Constitution, international agreements on human rights and the Vienna Convention on diplomatic relations. Bolsonaro said in a Twitter post that he had decided on the “compulsory withdrawal of Venezuelan diplomatic corps” and he criticized the injunction sought by lawmaker Paulo Pimenta. (https://www.reuters.com/article/us-brazil-venezuela/brazils-top-court-blocks-bolsonaro-move-to-expel-venezuelan-diplomats-idUSKBN22E0VG) Barroso said the immediate ejection of the diplomats in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic countered humanitarian principles. The consular personnel are based in the cities of Brasilia, Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Manaus, Belem and Boa Vista. Brazil withdrew the remainder of its diplomats from Caracas on April 17 and the Bolsonaro government had expected Venezuela to do the same by May 2, citing a verbal agreement on a reciprocal move to close each countries’ missions, Brazilian officials said. But Venezuela’s leftist government said in a statement on Thursday that there had been no such negotiation and that its diplomats would stay put. Venezuelan Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza accused Brazil in a Twitter post of violating international law by forcing its diplomatic personnel to leave.

Newsline: Brazil pulls diplomats from Venezuela Embassy

Brazil’s right-wing government has begun to pull its diplomats out of the embassy and consulate in Caracas as it moves to downgrade relations with Venezuela’s leftist government. Instructions published in the official gazette removed five diplomats and 11 members of consular staff in Caracas, including Consul General Elza de Castro and two minister counselors at the embassy. (https://www.reuters.com/article/us-venezuela-brazil/brazil-pulls-diplomats-from-venezuela-embassy-idUSKBN20S2TS) Brazil’s far-right president, Jair Bolsonaro, has not broken off relations with Venezuela as other governments in the hemisphere have, including Canada, because Brazilian diplomats and military officers have wanted to keep a door open.

Newsline: Iran summons Brazil’s charge d’affaires in Tehran after Soleimani comments

Iran has summoned Brazil’s Chargé d’Affaires in Tehran after the government in Brasilia expressed support for the United States in the “fight against the scourge of terrorism” following the death of an Iranian general in a U.S. drone strike. (https://www.reuters.com/article/us-iraq-security-iran-brazil/iran-summons-brazils-charge-daffaires-in-tehran-after-soleimani-comments-idUSKBN1Z61IF) The killing of Qassem Soleimani, widely viewed as the second most powerful figure in Iran and the architect of its efforts to extend influence in the Middle East, has triggered a major escalation of tensions in the region. Washington considered him a terrorist responsible for the deaths of many Americans and others, but for many Iranians he was a national hero, and hundreds of thousands of people attended his funeral on Monday. “We inform you that Brazil’s Chargé d’Affaires in Tehran, and representatives of other countries that spoke about the events in Baghdad, were summoned by the Iranian Foreign Ministry, within the usual diplomatic practices,” the Brazilian Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Tuesday. The conversation was calm and cordial, it said, adding it would not comment on the details of the meeting. Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro said on Tuesday the country rejected all forms of terrorism “anywhere in the world”. He also said Brazil would continue to trade with Iran and that he would speak with the foreign minister about Tehran’s decision to call in Brazil’s envoy.

Newsline: Brazil opens Israeli trade office, pledges to move embassy to Jerusalem

Brazil will move its embassy to Jerusalem in 2020, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro’s son, Eduardo Bolsonaro, said Sunday that during the opening of a Brazilian trade office in the Israeli capital. The younger Bolsonaro, chairman of the Brazilian chamber of deputy’s international affairs and defense committee, said his father’s election commitment to move the Brazilian embassy to Jerusalem still stands, describing it as a clear choice. “It’s not something extraordinary. It’s supposed to be a natural and normal thing,” he said. “We want to move to Jerusalem not just for Brazil, but to set an example for all of Latin America.” (https://www.upi.com/Top_News/World-News/2019/12/15/Brazil-opens-Israeli-trade-office-pledges-to-move-embassy-to-Jerusalem/8711576431736/) Brazil would join the United States and Guatemala, which have already moved their embassies to Jerusalem, and Honduras, which has also pledged to do so.

Newsline: Guaido Allies Leave Venezuela Embassy in Brazil After Stand-Off

Supporters of Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido left the country’s embassy in Brasilia on Wednesday evening, ending a nearly 13-hour stand-off with diplomats loyal to President Nicolas Maduro. Freddy Meregote, the embassy’s charge d’affaires representing Maduro’s government, said the “attack” from the “enemies of the revolution” in Venezuela was repelled.” (https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-11-13/guaido-backers-enter-venezuela-embassy-in-brazil-in-bold-move) Guaido’s top representative in Brazil, Maria Teresa Alexandrian, said in a statement that the decision to stand down was taken for safety reasons. She added that talks with Brazil‘s government were under way with the aim of ensuring access the embassy as soon as possible. A representative from Brazil’s Foreign Affairs Ministry spent hours on site, speaking with both sides. It was not clear what was agreed that allowed Maduro diplomats to regain full control of the embassy.

Newsline: Brazil’s Bolsonaro vows order after Guaido backers enter Venezuelan embassy

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro said his government was working to avoid violence after supporters of Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido gained access to the country’s embassy in Brasilia on Wednesday. The move led to a standoff with backers of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro and scuffles outside the embassy, creating a diplomatic embarrassment as the BRICS summit of major emerging economies kicked off in the Brazilian capital. Tensions at the embassy highlight the stark differences between Bolsonaro, who has recognized Guaido as Venezuela’s leader, and Maduro’s Chinese and Russian allies, who are joining presidents from India and South Africa in Brasilia this week. Venezuelan Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza said the embassy in Brasilia had been “invaded by force at dawn” and said on Twitter that Brazil should respect the Vienna Convention on diplomatic relations. (https://www.reuters.com/article/us-venezuela-politics-brazil/guaido-backers-enter-venezuela-embassy-in-brasilia-sparking-standoff-idUSKBN1XN1SJ) Guaido’s envoy in Brazil, María Teresa Belandria Expósito, said in a statement that her personnel had gained access when a group of embassy workers opened the doors voluntarily. Bolsonaro repudiated “the interference of external actors” in a Twitter post about the incident, without specifying to whom he was referring. He gave assurances that public order would be maintained in accordance with the Vienna Convention. The right-wing Brazilian president’s security advisors said in a statement he had not “incentivized the invasion of the Venezuelan embassy.”

Newsline: Brazil president confirms career diplomat tapped for embassy in Washington

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro confirmed the nomination of Nestor Foster to be ambassador in Washington after backtracking on appointing his son, lawmaker Eduardo Bolsonaro. “He’s a well-liked person, an exemplary figure, he has everything to be successful,” Bolsonaro told reporters before he left Tokyo for Beijing, the next stop on a tour of Asia and the Middle East. (https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-brazil-diplomacy/brazil-president-confirms-foster-tapped-for-embassy-in-washington-idUSKBN1X31UX) Foster is currently Brazil’s charge d’affaires at the U.S. embassy.

Newsline: Son of Brazil’s president gives up bid for ambassador in Washington

Brazilian lawmaker Eduardo Bolsonaro, son of President Jair Bolsonaro, said he will no longer pursue an appointment as the country’s ambassador in Washington after his father said the nomination was being reconsidered. “I’ll stay in Brazil to defend conservative principles, to make the tsunami that was the 2018 election a permanent wave,” Eduardo Bolsonaro told reporters. (https://www.reuters.com/article/us-brazil-politics/son-of-brazils-president-gives-up-bid-for-ambassador-in-washington-idUSKBN1X21SX) The 35-year-old lawmaker said he would relinquish his chance at the diplomatic post to defend the government’s agenda.