Disastrous Foreign Policy

Maduro’s regime, which Bolsonaro says he so admires, would not be so submissive to the United States.

The unexpected visit of U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to Roraima this past Friday and the reception given to him by the Brazilian government resulted in justified indignation. It was, as described by Chamber of Representatives President Rodrigo Maia, an “affront” to the “traditions of autonomy and pride in our foreign and defense policies.” Maia, siding with the former chancellors of every government since re-democratization, stressed in a memo Brazil’s obligation to “care for the stability of borders and peaceful and respectful coexistence with neighbors, pillars of sovereignty and defense.”

Pompeo’s visit had no objective other than to use Brazil in Donald Trump’s reelection campaign. The intention was to exploit the crisis in Venezuela to reaffirm the Trump administration’s desire to take down dictator Nicolas Maduro’s regime, something that would certainly please the exiled Venezuelan electorate in Florida, one of the key states in the Nov. 3 election.

Even the governments of the military regimes Bolsonaro says he admires would not be so submissive to the United States. The generals of the dictatorships, supposed models for Bolsonaro, never allowed automatic alignment with the United States and would never subjugate national interest, let alone to this level.

Under Bolsonaro’s government, however, Brazil has agreed to throw its weight around as the biggest regional power at Trump’s personal behest, without making it clear what the country could gain from this submission. This is what used to be called “entreguismo*” but is now something that is rarely seen: Brazil, governed by Bolsonaro, kneels down not in front of the U.S., which in and of itself would be embarrassing, but rather in front of Trump personally, whom Chancellor Ernesto Araújo considers a savior of Western civilization.

Furthermore, and perhaps most importantly, Brazil has aligned itself with the U.S. in a campaign to promote regime change in a neighboring country, which goes totally against not just good diplomatic practices of civilized countries, but also against the Brazilian constitution — which states, in Article 4, that the international relations of Brazil should be guided by the principles of national independence, the self-determination of peoples, nonintervention, and the peaceful resolution of conflicts.

None of these principles was respected by Bolsonaro’s government during the U.S. secretary of state’s campaign visit. During his visit, flanked by Chancellor Araújo, Pompeo, after speaking with Venezuelan immigrants, described Venezuelan dictator Maduro as a “drug trafficker” and said that the Chavist “destroyed his own country.”

Generally speaking, these are the pretexts the Trump administration is using to promote a regime change in Venezuela, a goal that is shared by Bolsonaro’s government, despite being in violation of Brazil’s constitution. “I congratulate President Donald Trump for his determination in continuing to work with Brazil and other countries to restore democracy in Venezuela,” Bolsonaro said about Pompeo’s visit.

Brazil’s duty is not to restore democracy, but rather to work incessantly to preserve its national interests. Since the beginning, Brazil’s diplomacy has been guided by the cultivation of good relations with its neighbors, independent of their governing regime. It is for no other reason that this spirit is in the constitutional text.

It goes without saying that Brazil should criticize neighboring countries whose governments systematically violate the human rights of its people, which is the case with the Chavist regime in Venezuela — which was strongly denounced in a recent report produced by a WHO mission. But this does not mean that the country should embark on coup adventures in Venezuela, whatever the pretext, let alone allow itself to serve as a platform for the U.S. election, as if Brazil were a banana republic.

*Translator’s Note: Entreguismo is a Brazilian political-ideological concept describing the permitted exploitation of a country’s resources, and does not have a direct translation into English.

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