In another measure that indicates a normalization of Itamaraty after Ernesto Araújo, Chancellor Carlos França has appointed diplomat Augusto Pestana to take over the presidency of Apex (Brazilian Trade and Investment Promotion Agency). The agency has already had three presidents under the Bolsonaro government and has gone through successive crises due to ideological and political interference.
Apex’s presidency, which has an estimated budget of R $ 1 billion to promote Brazilian products and businesses abroad, has been the target of the center’s greed. France, however, has managed to secure a career diplomat at the agency, which has been linked to Itamaraty since José Serra’s tenure as chancellor.
Since May 2019, Apex has been chaired by Rear Admiral Sergio Ricardo Segovia Barbosa. Before him, they passed through the command and lost the position Alecxandro Carreiro and Ambassador Mario Vilalva.
Carreiro had a dramatic change – he held the job for less than ten days. He was fired after falling out with then-commercial director Letícia Catelani, who had been appointed by Ernesto and was close to MP Eduardo Bolsonaro and international adviser Filipe Martins.
It also didn’t help that Carreiro is not fluent in English, a requirement in the agency’s statutes.
Catelani was also the pivot of Villalva’s resignation. She clashed with the ambassador and was supported by the former chancellor. As Folha revealed, Ernesto had promoted a change in Apex’s status and transferred powers that were from the presidency to two directors.
Villalva left accusing Ernesto of disloyalty, said the statutory change had happened “in the middle of the night” and said that Catelani and Marcio Coimbra, the other director appointed by the former chancellor, were unprepared people and irresponsible. He said the Apex was “a little paralyzed facing people who have neither the experience nor the maturity to deal with public affairs.”
Pestana, the new presidential candidate, is seen as the “person of absolute trust” of the new chancellor. He has served in Brazilian embassies in New Zealand, Japan and Germany, was commercial director at Apex, and most recently was diplomatic planning advisor.