The embarrassing image spoke volumes about the isolation of Jair Bolsonaro’s Brazil: During a reception at the G20 in Rome last year, as world leaders conversed amiably, the president, alone, spoke to waiters.
Brazila giant country in size and until now respected, has seen its global stature decline during the four years of the term of the far-right president, analysts agree.
The causes: his ideological approach to international relations, his disdain for diplomatic practices, his missteps and his insults.
“The country is experiencing relative international isolation and a serious crisis of prestige,” says Fernanda Magnotta, coordinator of international relations for the FAAP foundation, in Sao Paulo. “Few people want to be in the picture with our leaders”, he assures.
“Decisions are centralized in the presidency, Bolsonaro, his sons, and his closest advisers who make up the most ideological wing of the government”Explain.
Along with Putin
This president, who has traveled very little, has distanced himself from the international community due to his positions on the environment or human rights and has clashed with China and the Arab world, especially with the promise – finally truncated – to transfer the Brazilian embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
He approached countries with authoritarian and self-isolating governments: Hungary, Poland and above all Russia, where he met with the president Vladimir Putin a week before the invasion of Ukraine, on a justified visit to Brasilia due to the need to guarantee the supply of fertilizers.
The diplomacy of Brazil It was no longer seen “as a means to economic advancement, but as a means to forge far-right alliances for internal political gain,” explains Rodrigo Goyena Soares, a history professor at the University of Sao Paulo.
China, the largest trading partner of Brazilwas offended by aggressive statements.
In November 2020, for example, the embassy filed a complaint due to tweets by Eduardo Bolsonaro, deputy and son of the president, in which he accused Beijing of wanting to carry out espionage through 5G technology.
The European Union (EU) – Mercosur agreement was not ratified in part “out of mutual animosity” between Brasilia and Brussels, says Magnotta.
Likewise, Brazil “lost its leading role in the regional integration of South America” and was especially at odds with its Argentine neighbor, whose voters, Bolsonaro said, “they chose wrong” in 2019 to its center-left president, Alberto Fernández.
The gigantic fires in the Amazon in 2019 cracked the relations of Brazil with Europe, to a point of no return with the France of Emmanuel Macron, whose wife Brigitte was insulted for her physique.
Just last month, Economy Minister Paulo Guedes suggested that France go “to hell” if it didn’t treat France well. Brazil.
“It is unheard of in Brazilian diplomacy, and even in diplomacy in general”points out Goyena Soares.
Bolsonaro he had bet everything on the United States of Republican Donald Trump.
Was a “alienation with trumpism”, emphasizes Felipe Loureiro, professor at the Institute of International Relations of the University of São Paulo.
Bolsonaro He was one of the last leaders to recognize the electoral victory of Democrat Joe Biden in 2020, initially adhering to Trump’s thesis that there was fraud.
It was “another serious violation of the Brazilian diplomatic tradition of non-interference”, points out Loureiro.
The appointment in 2019 of Foreign Minister Ernesto Araújo, a diplomat considered by many to be a fanatic, shook the foundations of the respected foreign ministry.
An admirer of Trump, anti-globalization, skeptic of climate change and enemy of “Maoist” China, Araújo was largely responsible for the diplomatic turn of Brazil.
In Itamaraty, Bolsonaro “He placed inexperienced people in key positions,” says Goyena Soares. Without the opposition of the Senate, she would have even appointed his son Eduardo, without any resume, ambassador to the United States.
Today, “Eduardo has much more weight” than the new head of diplomacy, Carlos França, estimates the analyst.
Former President Lula (2003-2010) indicated that, if elected in October, he would restore the image of Brazil as a major global player.
Often more popular abroad than in BrazilLula foresees “a dialogue with all countries and reactivate South-South cooperation with Latin America and Africa”, which Bolsonaro has ignored, says Magnotta.
Likewise, it intends to relaunch regional integration and the participation of Brasilia in multilateral organizations and climate efforts.
The leftist leader also wants to “renegotiate the terms of the alliance with the United States”, according to Goyena Soares, define a real policy towards China and “get closer to the EU through the environment”.