Without pressure from Donald Trump in the White House and with the resignation of former minister Ernesto Araújo, Itamaraty is working to declare abstention in a UN vote on the US blockade of Cuba.
If it is confirmed, the gesture of the new minister, Carlos França, will constitute a further step back from the ultra-conservative agenda imposed by Ernesto on the chancellery.
This Wednesday (23), the UN General Assembly must analyze an annual resolution condemning the American embargo on the Caribbean island. The blockade has been in place since the 1960s, at the start of the Cuban Revolution.
The last time the resolution was presented, in 2019, Jair Bolsonaro’s government broke a 27-year tradition and voted in favor of the embargo. Only Brazil, Israel and the United States have adopted this position, against 187 countries. Colombia and Ukraine abstained.
At the time, Itamaraty’s technical staff tried until the last minute to convince the then chancellor not to align with the Trump administration during the vote.
The main argument put forward at the time was that the resolution did not signify support or condemnation of the Cuban dictatorship, but recognition that unilateral sanctions such as those applied by the United States are illegal under international law.
Brazil’s record in terms of votes in favor of the resolution is also justified by the country’s defense of the principle of non-interference in other nations.
It was even raised that Brazil should not vote against the resolution because the country itself could be harmed in the future – for example, in the possibility of economic sanctions due to the environmental policy in the Amazon.
Despite the call from diplomats working in the region – who defended the country’s abstention – Ernesto Araújo determined in 2019 that Itamaraty would support the American line.
At the time, the then chancellor defended his position and said it was necessary to condemn Cuban influence in the Chavez regime in Venezuela and other Latin American countries.
“We think it is essential that, in any case, we draw attention to the role that Cuba has played for 60 years, not just in Venezuela, in an attempt to export dictatorship to practically all of Latin America. . And our vote must be understood. In this sense, “said the former minister, in November 2019.
The Covid pandemic postponed the analysis of the resolution by the UN in 2020. Cubans took advantage of the context of the health crisis to present the case only after the elections in the United States, betting on the defeat of Trump.
According to interlocutors interviewed by Folha, the change of government in the United States is one of the main reasons taken into account by the technicians of Itamaraty to defend an abstention this year.
Indeed, Trump had a policy of maximum confrontation with Cuba and put strong pressure on the Bolsonaro administration to have Brazil vote with the United States in 2019.
Current president Joe Biden has not treated Cuba as a priority in his administration. As a result, this time the Biden administration took no action to demand a similar protest from Brazil.
The diplomats also recall that during the last year of the administration of Barack Obama, in the wake of the policy of rapprochement with Cuba, the Americans themselves abstained from the annual vote. Although diplomats consider Biden unlikely to repeat the move on Wednesday, the position is remembered as showing that there is no longer a harsh policy against Cubans like in Trump’s days.
The sensitivity of the environmental issue was also underlined in the technical argument in defense of forbearance this year. Brazil is the target of complaints on the international scene regarding the advance of deforestation in the biome, a situation made worse by the investigation by the federal police against Minister Ricardo Salles (Environment) suspected of involvement in a smuggling scheme Of wood.
Diplomats claim that it is in Brazil’s interest to oppose any measure that, in the future, might justify unilateral economic sanctions against the country because of the environmental issue.
Carlos França’s advisers also debated the advisability of Brazil’s further retreat: support for the resolution proposed by Cuba, condemning the embargo.
But the observation is that there is no room today for a change of course which would be interpreted as drastic and which would certainly be the target of attacks from the ideological wing of the government.
Wanted by Folha, Itamaraty did not respond.