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World envies Brazil's access to Trump, foreign minister says

Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro, center, receives military honors alongside Defense Minister Fernando Azevedo e Silva, left, and Air Force Commander Antonio Carlos Bermudez, during a delivery ceremony of the first KC-390 military aircraft, at the air base in Anapolis, Brazil, Wednesday, Sept. 4, 2019.

ERALDO PERES/AP

By SAMY ADGHIRNI | Bloomberg | Published: September 4, 2019

President Donald Trump will give special treatment to the son of Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro if he is confirmed as ambassador to Washington, according to Brazil's foreign minister.

Ernesto Araujo, speaking in an interview just few days after paying a visit to the White House, said last weekend's meeting between Trump, the younger Bolsonaro and himself was a clear sign of warming ties between Brazil and the U.S.

"It's very rare for the president of the United States to receive people who are not heads of state," Araujo said in his Brasilia office. "It became clear that Eduardo Bolsonaro would be most welcome and would have direct access to the highest U.S. circles and to Trump himself."

The U.S. president calls very few foreign envoys by their first name, he added, and other countries "are envious of the access that the Brazilian ambassador will have in Washington, in case that becomes reality."

President Bolsonaro has pushed to make his son Eduardo, a federal lawmaker, an ambassador to the U.S. despite criticism at home and abroad. While the Trump administration has given the green light to the plan, Eduardo's nomination has yet to be approved by Brazil's Senate. Supporters say that Eduardo, who once wore a Trump 2020 cap and has called Brazilian undocumented migrants in the U.S. a "shame," is the best person to represent Brazil in Washington. Critics say it's a case of nepotism.

Under Bolsonaro, Brazil has abandoned a long-held tradition of multilateralism that allowed the country to keep trade and diplomatic ties with the U.S. and its enemies, in favor of full alignment with Trump and Israel's Benjamin Netanyahu. Yet Araujo said Brazil isn't currently discussing whether to transfer its Israeli embassy to Jerusalem, as promised by Bolsonaro. For now, a trade representation in Jerusalem will do.

Araujo said the U.S. president fully backs Brazil in the stand-off against countries that have blamed Bolsonaro's environmental policies for a spike in fires currently ravaging the Amazon rainforest.

More than 75,000 fires have swept across the Amazon so far this year, an 84% increase compared to the same period of 2018, according to Brazil's National Institute for Space Research. The dramatic rise has prompted an international outcry that culminated with France's President Emmanuel Macron accusing Bolsonaro of "lying" about his environmental commitments. In retaliation, the French leader threatened to oppose a trade deal between the European Union and the Mercosur customs union that comprises Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay.

Araujo said the international campaign about the Amazon amounted to an unacceptable aggression to Brazil's sovereignty. He blamed protectionist interests in Europe and local groups that are "systematically" against the government for "orchestrating a campaign against Brazil based on fake news about the Amazon fires, an alarmism with no scientific base."

He declined to say whether he is a climate change skeptic but said that the "proclaimed consensus on global warming" should be debated on rational bases and without prejudice.
 

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