Brazilian Ambassador to Paris Luís Fernando Serra ignored a formal invitation from the French National Assembly to attend a hearing on illegal mining in French Guiana.
The gesture, according to parliamentarians from the European country, proves the lack of cooperation between Brazil and the French authorities in this area.
The National Assembly is the equivalent of the Chamber of Deputies in Brazil and has organized a commission of inquiry to make a diagnosis on the problems of illegal mining in the French overseas department bordering Amapá.
“Proof of this lack of cooperation on the issue of illegal gold mining, the Brazilian ambassador to France did not respond to the request for a hearing by the commission of inquiry, unlike the Ambassador of Suriname, a country with which border cooperation has resumed, “write the French parliamentarians in the report, dated July 21.
“The resumption of cooperation with Brazil is therefore a prerequisite for the eradication of the phenomenon of illegal gold mining,” they declared.
According to Itamaraty, the invitation to Serra to present the Brazilian vision on the subject took place on March 11. The hearing was set for the 24th of the same month.
The episode therefore took place under the administration of Ernesto Araújo at the head of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. He resigned at the end of March and was replaced by Carlos França.
On condition of anonymity, Brazilian diplomats told Folha that there is no rule for a foreign ambassador to attend the meeting scheduled by the legislature.
However, the fact that Serra ignored the invitation, they say, hurts her ability to communicate with the French Assembly.
Contacted, Serra told Folha that he had already written to deputies expressing his willingness to meet with them in order to express that “the federal government is working with the French executive in the task of solving the problems along the common border , that we want to be exemplary. “
He didn’t say when the message was sent.
Relations between Brazil and France have been strained since the start of the mandate of Jair Bolsonaro (no party), who has repeatedly opposed French President Emmanuel Macron.
In 2019, after Macron criticized a wave of fires in the Amazon and defended himself from bringing the case to a G-7 meeting, Bolsonaro began accusing him of wanting to interfere with Brazilian sovereignty over the region. .
The clashes between the two countries also involved offenses by Bolsonaro and Minister Paulo Guedes (Economy) to the First Lady of France, Brigitte Macron; and the last-minute cancellation of a meeting between Bolsonaro and French Chancellor Jean-Yves Le Drian during a visit to Brasilia. At the time scheduled for the meeting with the head of French diplomacy, the Brazilian leader made a live cut by cutting his hair.
When questioned, Itamaraty said the ambassador did not attend the parliamentary hearing because the Brazilian government considers that the commission of inquiry “is not the appropriate international forum to deal with the complex issue of illegal mining. gold in the border region “.
“Illegal mining not only in French Guiana, but in the northern part of South America, is covered by various aspects that are not comprehensively addressed by the aforementioned commission of inquiry,” Itamaraty said.
The commission of inquiry is made up of 29 members of Congress, who unanimously approved the report. The document has advisory value for the authorities of the European country.
In the report, signed by Gabriel Serville, the mining situation in French Guiana is presented as a problem with strong Brazilian influence.
“Indeed, although old, due to the existence of numerous bilateral conventions and declarations, cooperation with Brazil remains insufficient today, whereas 95% of prospectors [na Guiana] they are Brazilians in a situation of illegal immigration and part of the logistics supply comes from bases located on the banks of the Oiapoque river “, declared the rapporteur.
In the recommendations of the report, the author proposes modifications to the agreements with Brazil to, among other things, allow the garimpeiros detained to serve their sentence on Brazilian territory.
“The reestablishment of pragmatic and effective cooperation with Brazil must be a priority on the French diplomatic agenda,” said the document.
In Folha, Itamaraty said he was working with the French government to increase cooperation in the border area in all sectors, “including with regard to illegal mining in French Guiana”.
The Brazilian Ministry of Foreign Affairs also argued that this cooperation involved migration, consular, economic, environmental, security, transport and health aspects, among others.
“These questions are dealt with regularly within the framework of the cross-border joint commission, made up of federal bodies, including the Ministry of Foreign Affairs,” Itamaraty said.
“Brazil and France maintain and maintain historic relations, based on common interests. France is an important interlocutor for Brazilian diplomacy in various fields, such as defense and science; technology and innovation; trade and investment; academic and cultural; among others.