O Globo panel discussion on Brazilian foreign policy institutional challenges

In case you missed the story, Brazil’s acting head of mission in La Paz, Bolivia created a major stir in South America last week. Brazilian diplomat Eduardo Saboia made the executive decision that Bolivian senator Roger Pinto Molina, who had been holed up in the La Paz embassy for 455 days seeking asylum from political persecution, was in danger of attempting suicide. Saboia bundled Pinto into a diplomatic car and drove 1600 km with a pair of marines to Brazil. Bolivian president Evo Morales was furious, but not likely half as much as Brazilian president Rousseff, who knew nothing of these plans and, worse, could get no answers from Saboia’s boss, Foreign Minister Antonion Patriota, who was himself totally ignorant of events. Patriota consequently resigned; it later emerged that Saboia had tried to contact current defence minister and former foreign minister Celso Amorim instead of his boss, Patriota.

This has all tossed Brazil’s fabled foreign ministry into a bit of tizzy, raising serious questions about who is running the show and where Itamarty fits into the political hierarchy in Brasília. Brazilian tv network O Globo recently ran a panel discussion show taking up these very issues, linked here (in Portuguese). FGV Professor Guilherme Casarões offers some particularly prescient analysis, pointing out that Dilma has a very short-term, transactional approach to foreign affairs, which is almost directly opposed to the longer-term vision that drives Itamaraty. The clip is worth a view.

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