The president-elect ignores recommendations for more moderate diplomats and names convinced ’Trumpist’ for the minister of foreign affairs.
As soon as the diplomat Ernesto Araújo was announced by President-elect Jair Bolsonaro as the future minister of foreign affairs, he began to circulate on social media the text by which he is best known among the servers of the Itamaraty [or Foreign Ministry]. [In the text] titled “Trump and the West,” Araújo devotes over 36 pages of praise for the representative of the United States, whom he sees as a kind of crusading knight for the rescue of Western identity in the modern world. For the new chancellor, Donald Trump is not the leader of the world superpower who makes disconnected, arbitrary and chaotic decisions. Far from this, Araújo sees him as someone who acts “in the recovery of the symbolic past, of the history and culture of Western nations.”
Published in the second half of 2017, the article, according to a diplomat speaking with the portal UOL, had a strong impact on the ranks of the Itamaraty, a ministry marked by the rigid hierarchy of the diplomatic career, by a tradition of independence, and not automatically aligned to the great international blocks. Araújo positioned himself there clearly as a “Trumpist,” as a party to the highly nationalistic − and anti-globalist − vision that the president of the United States embodies.
With this history, it seems only natural that Araújo would have openly supported Bolsonaro, a politician who has earned the name “Tropical Trump” in spite of the differences that separate them. In the middle of the presidential campaign, the new chancellor started to publish a blog with strong criticism of the PT (for him it was “the Terrorist Party”)* and praise for Bolsonaro. And it is in this blog, for example, that he compared one of the pro-Bolsonaro demonstrations in Brasilia to the “Diretas Ja” [movement] and the street protesters who advocated the impeachment of Dilma Rousseff. “The popular movement of Bolsonaro is not fed by hate, but by love and hope,” he wrote.
The current head of the Department of the United States, Canada and Inter-American Affairs of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Araújo moved ahead of other diplomats who were on the list to lead Brazilian foreign policy in Bolsonaro’s government. In the past few days, names of career professionals were circulated who were considered more moderate, however far from the thinking of the South-South alliances which had the imprint of the PT government in Itamaraty (and which Bolsonaro promises to get rid of). Vice President-elect Gen. Hamilton Mourao had said that that one of those listed was the current executive-secretary of the Ministry, Marcos Galvão.
In this sense, the choice of Araújo, 51 years old, a preacher against “cultural Marxism,” ceases to be a surprise. Principally by showing that, in place of a less controversial choice, which would avoid even more fights with crucial countries like China, the main commercial partner of Brazil, Bolsonaro chose not to abandon Brazil’s alignment with the global movement of the ascension of the populist right − in many places with the extreme right − led by Trump; an alignment which started even before the retired army captain had been elected, when his son, Eduardo Bolsonaro, visited the ex-Republican strategist, Steve Bannon, in the United States.
The president-elect presented the new chancellor at a press conference this Wednesday in Brasilia. In a quick statement, Araújo argued that the country maintains “excellent relationships” with all its trading partners. “First of all, [it is necessary] to guarantee that this extraordinary time in which Brazil is living, with the election of Bolsonaro, translates within the Itamaraty into an effective policy, a policy which functions for the national interest, of a Brazil that is active, happy and prosperous.”
In a text published last year, Araújo makes a strong defense of nationalism and presents Trump as a representative of what could be called a “radical anti-cosmopolitanism.” “Each state has the duty, and not only the right, to work for its people, the state legitimizes itself if it is national, rooted in a community and each person developed as a member,” he says, commenting on one of the U.S. president’s speeches.
In a rather erudite way Araújo traces a history of Western civilization that he affirms reunites [the] “ties of culture, faith and tradition that makes us who we are.” Values which would be threatened by globalism and an abandonment of our own Western identity, that would include here, among other things, a rejection of the concept of nationalism. “Only one God could still save the West, a God operating for the nation − including and perhaps principally the American nation,” concludes Araújo in his text.
*Editor’s note: The PT stands for Partido dos Trabalhadores, the Workers’ Party, a democratic socialist political party in Brazil.