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New Chancellor opts for ‘smooth transition’, keeps Ernesto’s assistants – 7/7/2021 – World

The new Minister of Foreign Affairs, Carlos França, has decided to make specific changes to the second echelon of Itamaraty and to retain the majority of Ernesto Araújo’s executive secretaries.

On its arrival at the head of the portfolio, France chose to appoint a new secretary general – the second most important post in the ministry – and to change chief of staff.

The Chancellor chose Ambassador Fernando Simas, Permanent Representative of Brazil to the OAS (Organization of American States), to be the Secretary General of Itamaraty. He also invited Ambassador Achilles Zaluar to be his chief of staff.

But he ruled out making a big change in other posts that help the minister, unlike what Ernesto himself did when he took office.

The decision to keep the majority of the current team was communicated by France to the auxiliaries during a meeting on Tuesday (6).

Among other structures, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is currently divided into seven secretariats.

Three cover geographic regions: the negotiations in the Americas; in the Middle East, Europe and Africa; and Asia, the Pacific and Russia.

There are also the departments of foreign trade and economic affairs; National sovereignty and citizenship; Administrative management; and Communication and Culture.

According to interlocutors, France has decided to keep all secretaries, with the exception of administrative management. The new head of the secretariat is to be Ambassador Pedro Wollny, who was Ernesto’s chief of staff and who is closely linked to the previous administration. The current head of the administrative sector, Ambassador Cláudia Buzzi, should be sent to the office for relations with the National Congress.

As the new secretary for administrative management, Wollny will remain close to the former chancellor.

After his resignation, Ernesto was assigned to a post related to the administrative secretariat. Those accompanying the transition process say the former minister should continue to dispatch to Itamaraty headquarters until President Jair Bolsonaro decides where to send him.

While Ernesto left the Chancellery in open war with the Senate, his appointment to an embassy is now considered impossible. For this reason, the government is evaluating his appointment to a post abroad that does not depend on legislative approval, as the representative of Brazil to the OECD (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development).

The lack of definition of the future of the former minister is causing concern among diplomats, who fear that he will continue to try to influence the important decisions taken within the institution.

Ernesto was also pointed out by interlocutors as one of the reasons why France did not want to promote further changes in the structure of Itamaraty.

He was expected to change the ministry’s organizational chart, eliminating, for example, the Secretariat of National Sovereignty and Citizenship, which was responsible for bolstering the conservative agenda of Ernesto’s time in Itamaraty. The department was created by the former chancellor himself in 2019, as part of a major overhaul implemented by him within the ministry.

Interlocutors stress that Ernesto was forced to resign due to external pressure, mainly from senators. But the ex-minister remains much appreciated by Bolsonaro and the main representatives of the ideological wing of the government, such as the deputy Eduardo Bolsonaro (PSL-SP), the son of the president, and the international adviser Filipe Martins.

A large reorganization of the ministry, say diplomats following the transition, would be interpreted as a clear break with the line adopted by Ernesto, which would generate opposition from Eduardo and Martins.

In addition, the second echelon of Itamaraty is formed by career diplomats, with a history of service in the administrations of different governments. So, say the interlocutors, keeping the team does not mean a commitment to the ideas of the former chancellor.

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