SAO PAULO (AP) — President-elect Jair Bolsonaro announced Wednesday that he is naming an admirer of U.S. President Donald Trump to be Brazil’s foreign minister in the new administration. Bolsonaro, a far-right politician who takes office Jan. 1, went on Twitter to announce the choice of diplomat Ernesto Araujo.
Araujo now heads the foreign ministry’s department for United States, Canada and Inter-American affairs. He is anti-left and a self-proclaimed nationalist, and he campaigned for Bolsonaro, who was elected Oct.28. “The Brazilian foreign policy must be a part of the moment of recovery that Brazil lives today,” the president-elect said about his appointee.
Araujo has praised Trump’s approach to foreign relations, saying the U.S. leader proposes a view of the West that is based on the recovery of its symbolic past. The Brazilian diplomat also believes globalism is an anti-Christian ideology.
Bolsonaro, a former army captain and longtime congressman, has on several occasions compared himself to Trump, although many analysts say his tough anti-crime and pro-gun positions resemble more those of Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte.
Some diplomats were surprised with Araujo’s appointment because he has never been in charge of an embassy during his 29-year diplomatic service. Bolsonaro’s aggressive rhetoric has already caused tensions with Egypt and Cuba, issues that Araujo will deal with once in office. The Arab nation cancelled a trip of Brazilian lawmakers this year after the president-elect promised to move the Brazilian Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Bolsonaro later said the decision was not taken.
Cuba announced earlier Wednesday that it was ending a program that sent almost 9,000 medics to Brazil, acting after Bolsonaro said the program could continue only under new conditions. Among other things, he said the doctors must receive their salaries directly from Brazil and not through the Cuban government and be allowed to bring their families with them during their assignments.
Bolsonaro will also be starting his administration with some friction with China, which has invested billions of dollars in energy, infrastructure and oil projects in Brazil. During the campaign, he complained: “The Chinese are not buying in Brazil. They are buying Brazil itself.”
In a recent editorial in the China Daily newspaper, the Chinese government warned Bolsonaro against aggressive statements aimed at China, saying they could cause troubles for Brazil. Soon afterward Bolsonaro was visited by China’s ambassador to Brasilia.q
By MAURICIO SAVARESE