This is a source for analysis, interviews, and commentary on security in Latin America. Herein you will find rumors, the results of off the record interviews, and information you'll not find in international or United States news media.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

A Look Inside Brazil's Foreign Policy Team

A source of mine in Brasilia, and someone close to the maneuvering of politics within the Brazilian Congress and Lula’s administration, recently made an interesting comment.

Lula, he says, becomes quite upset at the lack of coordination between the various cabinet-level politicians who operate a specific segment of Brazil’s foreign policy.

Brazil’s foreign policy is officially delegated to Foreign Minister, Celsom Amorim, and Lula’s Foreign Affairs adviser, Professor Marco Aurelio Garcia, who has been a foreign policy adviser with the Workers Party (PT) for well over a decade.

Professor Marco represents the PT’s hard left, based on ideology from the party’s socialist position formed in the 1960s. His position contrasts somewhat with the relatively more moderate position taken by the Brazilian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, aka Itamaraty, and under Amorim’s charge.

Amorim undoubtedly drives Brazil’s over all foreign policy maneuvers, but insiders report that it’s Professor Marco who works behind the scenes to maintain Brazil’s cordial relationship with the region’s leftist governments in Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador, Argentina, and Paraguay.

If Obama seeks to appease Brazil, and use the South American giant as a regional proxy in South America, his team must appease both Amorim and Professor Marco – not an easy task as both men often disagree.

Defense Minister, Nelson Jobim, also has a voice in Brazilian foreign policy. So does Carlos Minc, the Environmental Minister. In the area of foreign trade, Ministers Reinhold Stephanes with Agriculture and Miguel Jorge with Development and Foreign Trade, weigh in.

In addition to this not to small group, another appointee to Lula’s administration, Harvard Professor Roberto Mangabeira Unger, is in place to advise on long term, strategic foreign policy decision making. His voice and ideas fall directly in line with what Brazil would plan for a long-term, strategic relationship with the United States.

Mangabeira, my source reports, recently visited Washington to engage with the Obama administration. He claims links to the first couple because he was at least a professor for Barak Obama when he attended Harvard.

Perhaps Mangabeira’s influence led to the 26 January phone call between Presidents Obama and Lula. But the press never covered Mangabeira’s visit, nor was the Brazilians embassy directly involved in the visit.

Either way, Lula has unofficially committed to a trip to DC in March, and it is quite possible Obama will visit Brazil before the end of the year, maybe even before the end of the North American summer months.

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