"Brazil is back"
Speech by the Minister of Foreign Affair, Ambassador Ernesto Araújo, at the Heritage Foundation – Washington, DC, September 11, 2019
It’s a pleasure to be here. I’d like to express my thanks for Heritage [Foundation], it’s really an honor to be here in this august hall.
My thanks to President Kay James; Vice President Jay Carafano, and all the staff that made this possible.
I would start by saying that I just realized it’s 9/11 so, before really starting, I’d like to express our sentiment in memory of the victims of that terrible day. I also remember one year afterwards – so, 2002 – I saw the cover of, I think it was “Foreign Policy” magazine, and the cover article said, about 9/11, “The Day Nothing Much Changed”. It’s a way of seeing it, right? I think then we were trying to get a sense of what happened that day, and what changed and what did not change, and some of the things I’m about to say may be also a part of an ongoing speculation about everything that changed in the world in the last twodecades.
So Brazil is back – I believe that’s the title I gave to this speech. Back to where we never were, but where we feel that we belong – and where we think all nations belong. In any case, we feel we are back to the center of the fight.
And we feel that Brazil is part of a global process, that I’ll try to describe a little bit.
We can say that it started back in 2013, when Brazilians went to the streets spontaneously, by the hundreds of thousands, maybe millions, without being able to voice entirely what they were rising against, and forreasons that were certainly far larger than the immediate reasons of the revolt – more or less like the Boston Tea Party, perhaps. It was a rise of the equivalent to 5 cents in the price of bus tickets that sparked a movement – amovement that, in a sense, is still going on in Brazil, a movement that at first the Left tried to dominate and to harness, but went out of control, fortunately, and became a revolt against a whole system whose corruption was still not totally clear, but of which the people, in their wisdom, had the intuition already. It was a revolt against the political-economic system, which didn’t deliver services or economic opportunities that people wanted, in spite of its social-oriented rhetoric, but also a cultural revolt against the ownership of public discourse by politically correctmedia.
In an information society, whoever controls the discourse controls the power. People started to realize that in Brazil, back in 2013. People went to the streets to protest against something, they didn’t know exactly what, I think (that’s what protests normally are, I think) and they didn’t get what they wanted because they didn’t know exactly what it was, but when they came home, they went into social media, and they never left! And they are still there. We are still there. This is changing the country and is part of a world change. The people trying to ascertain their power over the discourse, against the political-economic system and against the media which control each other, the political-economic system and the media, andstilltrytocontrolthepeople.
This spontaneous movement reemerged in 2015 in the shape of the protests for Dilma Rousseff’s impeachment and destitution. It had already a strong nationalist vein, which went beyond the simple removal of a detested leader. It was against the regime of the Workers’ Party (which is an Orwellian designation, since we are at it, because no workers were ever seen inside the Workers’ Party). It was against the Gramscian state in which Brazil had turned, a system of state control of the economy and media control of the culture.
They got Dilma removed from office (I think I can say we got Dilma removed from office, all Brazilians), and some people back then thought: “Well, this is it”, but it was not it, it was not over. The Workers’ Party was replaced at the top, but the system stayed on. People continued to strongly support the fight against corruption which was going on, the “Lava Jato” operation, which later got Lula convicted for corruption and sentenced to 11 years in jail, a term that he is now serving, as you know. People embraced the rule of law as a banner, like never before. And they kept pressing for a total cleaning-up of the system. So they realized that it was more than removing a president from office; what was at stake was the connection between the age-old system of the economical-political “give and take” system and, packed with that system, some sort of hegemonic socialproject.
That was Brazil, but then, in 2016, came ofcourse the Brexit vote and Trump’s election. Few people realized back then, but I think this showed Brazil was already part of something bigger, something more universal in nature. There was – and still is, I think – some sort of “Zeitgeist” for freedom across theworld.
The same movement reemerged around Jair Bolsonaro’s candidacy. From 2017 it became increasingly clear that he was the only political leader capable of bringing the people to power, the only one who believed in freedom, in nationhood, and in God, and in theirinteraction.
We may say that Trump and Bolsonaro are part of the same insurgency, what I would call
the universal insurgency against bullshit.
Here and there and elsewhere, in Brazil, in the US, elsewhere, people fight for something else than the economy, something else than just getting rid of corruption. Something else than just getting their jobs back.
But what is it that mobilized Brazilians, Brexiters and US MAGA voters?
I think it’s, to put in a more elegant term, it’s a revolt against ideology. The realization we had been lied to, that we had been despised by an élite that tried to rule us and abate us in the name of social justice, or in the name of European integration, or in the name of a borderless world, in the name of progress or whatever. All high-sounding names that are there not to describe the reality, but to impose a certain power structure into reality.
Ifyou believe in Toynbee’s theory of civilization advanced by challenge and response, what is the challenge, the big threat, that not only Brazil or the US, or the United Kingdom or any other country, but the big threat that our civilization now faces? Some people would say ‘climate change’, but it’s not, absolutely not true. The big challenge isideology.
In1989 and immediately afterwards, it seemed that Western civilization had overcome its biggest challenge, Soviet communism.In the ensuing peace, without a challenge, the West started to stagnate. It started to splurge. Without the need to fight for life or death, it started to make mistakes without any consequences, or thinking they did not have any consequences. It made a huge mistake in the diagnosis of what had ensured its victory. It thought it was only the economy that had ensured the West’s victory, and ignored the culture. It ignored, for example,Ronald Reagan’s advice in his farewell speech.It through the Christian faith had nothing to do with it, when it clearly was a huge part of the West’s success, as Saint Pope John Paul II’s fight clearly shows. His action against communism was not a political action under religious pretexts, but rather a religious, faith-based action with some political instruments. In any case, the West opened the ground forthe emergence of the new challenge, in the shape of what today I believe we can call globalism.
In general, we can say that globalism is what came tobe the amalgam of the globalized economy with cultural Marxism infiltrated in the institutions. So, basically, economic globalization hijacked by cultural Marxism.
In Brazil globalism took the shape of a slightly different amalgam, that of the traditional corrupt system of patronage dominated by a Gramscian left infiltrated in the cultural institutions. In Brazil they infiltrated what we used to call the “physiological state” – I don’t know if it makes sense in English, but Brazilians here know what I mean. “Physiologism” is the way we name this system of patronage, of State-controlled economy. So what we had in Brazil was basically a more or less disguised state control of the economy and control of public discourse. A closed economy and its subservient insertion in a globalized system inside the sort of political control of the means of discourse production.
When people realized what was going on, the system tried to sell a bunch of more or less centrist candidates, promising all of them half-heartedly to fight a little bit the corruption and to liberalize a little bit the economy. People didn’t buy it and went to the only one outside of the system, the one whois really there to break the corrupt system and tocreate a real capitalist economy, the one who is breaking the politically correct spell that was used to keep people inside of the system without noticing it. I think we are creating in Brazil what we call the liberal-conservative amalgam (liberal in the Brazilian sense, not in the American sense, liberal in the sense of economic liberalism), and this amalgam is the first real chance we ever had to really have a prosperous economy inside a healthy, confident society. I am sure that only in a society of trust and confidence, you can have a thriving open economy, only on top of nationhood, family, traditional ties, you can have a functioning capitalist economy. Globalism wants to sell us the incompatibility of those goals, and we are disproving that thesis.
In the US the globalist program worked differently – not, mainly, I think, through state control, as in Brazil, but mainly through the destruction of American manufacture and its technological base, thanks to globalization, also coupled with the destruction or erosion of traditional ties and values. But, just like in Brazil, it was also about a subservient insertion in the globalized economy and the shutting up of dissenting voices at the cries of fascist or racist.
So, one way of seeing it, a slightly different way of seeing this, the challenge facing our civilization is the following: our civilization is losing its symbols, it is losing its symbolic dimension. I am not talking about religion, but religious life requires the symbolic dimension. We don’t seem to be able to generate symbols or to live symbolically nowadays. What are symbols? Symbols arebasically figures that guide us from above, thatmake our life complex and three-dimensional. Symbols are like signal towers or satellites that allow us to find our way in reality like some sort of intellectualGPS.
So, I was reading recently a very important book to understand what is at stake, the book by Ernesto Laclau and Chantal Mouffe about the concept of hegemony. Those are people who try to reinvent Marxism and whenever we talk about the cultural Marxism, like we are talking here, it is an important reference to understand it. I found a note that I made on the side, it is a kind of “too good to be mine”, so I don’t think I wrote that, but to quote from this unknown source in a comment to that book: “since Rosa Luxemburg, at the beginning of the 20th century, communism ceased to be an economic theory and became a process of symbolic confiscation”.
What is this theory of hegemony that I talked about? The theory of hegemony is a combination of that process. Laclau and Chantal Mouffe are basically, as I said, the creators of 21st century socialism sothat’s basically the theory that you have to transfer the social strife from the economy to other realms of society, and a good example of what it brings to is Venezuela. Venezuela was considered to be a successful example of 21st century socialism. And it is a very successful example of 21st century socialism. Why? Because they just don’t care at all about economic success as long as they attain that symbolic success, that success in destroying the symbolic. They want to destroy society toprove and to impose their power. In a way, it’s like the cultural revolution of the60s. Destruction is the goal, not the byproduct. They want to create terror to break the limits of decencyandstillhold to power,andthusshow theirpower.Whatbiggeraffirmationofpower can there be?
So hegemony also means that: it means that the left lost the people and they don’t care. So, “let’s replace the people”, they say, like Brecht used to say in one of his plays – first he said that as a mockery and a criticism of bourgeois regimes. But as in many cases of left-wing theory, what they’re criticizing is actually what they’re preaching. So the idea is let’s despise the people and let’s humiliate its values, let’s humiliate the people in order to break their spirit and to subjugatepeople.
This is the new “logic of the social”, to quote from that book. The new logic of the social is basically that: Marxism without the people. The revolutionary avant-garde is not where economic theory would determine because there’s the capital labor relations (it never was, maybe, but today it’s clearly not what the theory prescribes). So, today, revolutionary avant-garde is whatever the resistance of the enemy, the common people, is wherever the resistance is weaker, actually. So avant-garde is in moral values, for example, due to people’s natural kindness, it is in the realm of immigration also where people by nature tend to be kind and not notice ideology penetrating. Very seriously in Latin America today, the avant-garde is associated with organized crime, if not drug trafficking and so forth. So, that’s also part of the design, I mean, they want to be whatever they can be, the most brutal and the most shocking. So to close that digression into 21st century socialism, we can say that 21st century socialism is basically that: Gramscianism meets the drug cartels.
So back to the question of the symbols and losing the symbols. You may say that “what’s the problem, without symbols we still havereality”, but we don’t, that’s wrong. Withoutsymbols we have only what is in front of us, and that is not reality. Without symbols we have only words left, words without reality, words as mere triggers for hatred or fear. Without symbols we fall prey to self-replicating sub-ideas, those that Richard Dawkins used to call memes before the word meme acquired the sense that has today over theinternet.
Without symbols we are the unidimensional man of Herbert Marcuse, and here we come again to that example of Marxists, because he wrote that book in the 60s denouncing the consumerist society. But actually I think it was a program for establishing the unidimensional man. I think the whole Frankfurt school is about that, is about denouncing what, deep inside, they want to create. See, for example, also the book “Empire”, by Hardt and Negri, or the idea of biopolitics in Michel Foucault and the “Panopticon”. Although people say Michel Foucault is not a Marxist – but I think it’s part of the same cultural universe. The idea of the panopticon which he described as something terrible, a dystopian future where from a central point you can control the whole society, but that’s what they are trying to create. Also Georg Lukács, “The Destruction of Reason”, is where he tries to describe how the rise of National Socialism in Germany destroyed thinking, and I think that’s also program of action, they want to destroy reason. It’s not by accident.
So for the unidimensional man there are only words and words are the reality. For him, for example, men and women are only words, and they are interchangeable. So that’s what gives rise to the gender ideology. For them there is no essence because essence belongs to the realm of the symbolic. And that’s where we’re at Globalism, is the world without symbols, that’s another way of saying it.That’s where nationalism comes in as, maybe, the main convergence of forces that oppose globalism, because the nation is still one of the very few symbols that we have left although battered and attacked but there’s still a symbol that makes sense and that sends signals from above to help us organize reality in a more complexway.
So coming back to the instruments of globalism, today I think globalism works through three main instruments. One is climate change ideology or climatism– to use another word distinct from climate change itself as a natural phenomenon scientifically observable. Another is gender ideology, and another is what some people call oikophobia, to distinguish from xenophobia: it’s the hatred of one’s own nation and, as a part of that, the theory of or the claim over for a borderless world. But let’s concentrate on what is more pressing today, I think, of those, which is climatism or climate change ideology. Just toinsist, one thing is what I call climatism, the other is climate change.
So is there climate change? Yes, certainly, there has always been. Is it man-made? Many people say yes, we don’t know for sure. The computer models based on the assumption of a high sensitivity of temperature to CO2, are almost all of them wrong, according to doctor Patrick Michaels, if I’m not mistaken: among the 102 computer models that try to simulate the behavior of temperature in function of CO2,among the 102 models, 101 are wrong, overestimated the increase in temperature. But that’s ok, I mean, that’s something that scientifically observable or can be discussed or should be discussed. Butinanycase,isthischangecatastrophicto thepointofrequiringtheworstsacrificesasit is said nowadays? It doesn’t seem to be so, according to one of the main documents of the climate debate which is the IPCC’s last report; the 2018 IPCC report in its summary for policymakers says the following (I’m sorry I have to open here my plan to quote), it says: “trends in intensity and frequency of some climate and weather extremes have been detected over time spans during which about 0.5o C of global warming occurred, medium confidence”. Because every statement in the IPCC report classifies high, medium or low confidence. So there is medium confidence that trends in intensity and frequency of some climate and weather extremes have been detected in a period basically since 1950. So it doesn’t seemlike a climate catastrophe to me at least. But from the debate that’s going on it would seem that the world is ending, and that’s the whole point of climatism.
The whole point of climatism is ending normal political democratic debate. The conveyors of that ideology want to create a “moral equivalent of war”, in order to impose policies and restrictions that run counter to fundamental liberties. Because Brazilians, Brexiters and most Americans, among others, are no longer buying the traditional lies of the system, the traditional power scheme in its ordinary package, now the system is trying to change the package and to paint it in more dramatic colors. They want us to believe that we are in a war for the survival of the planet, and any sacrifice is warranted – including the sacrifice of freedom of speech, which is probably the main goal of the system, since they want above all to control thediscourse, as we have seen.
After all the awful experiences around the world with socialism, how can someone dream of imposing socialist control of the economy in a country like the United States, for example? Never through democratic debate, of course. Only through a declaration of emergency. “Climate crisis!”, they cry. How can someone in time of peace dream of breaking the sovereignty of a country like Brazil over its own territory? By saying “the Amazon is on fire”, again and again. Because of ideology, because of this primeval cry of climate crisis, “let’s save theplanet”.
“Climate” became not a scientific concept; it became a debate shutter. A word that, whenyou pronounce it, you end debate and you win the argumentwithouthavingtoproveyouareright.
The system turned the climate change batteries against President Trump and against President Bolsonaro, because they are the main ones, probably fighting the system. Brazil is out of the globalist pact. The US is out of the globalist pact. So, they come after us, trying to reduce us and lead us back into thepact.
In the case of Brazil, the reasoning runs like this: there is a climate crisis; the catastrophic climate crisis is due to global warming; global warming is due to CO2 emissions; CO2 emissions are due to deforestation; deforestation is due to Brazil burning the Amazon; so “let’s invade Brazil”, as was proposed in an article in Foreign Policy. Of course, everything is good and everything is advisable against a country that is destroying the planet. War, trade sanctions, whatelse?
The fact is that many, if not all, steps of that reasoning are wrong or at least questionable. Brazil is not burning the forest. Fires are on average. Deforestation is responsible for only about 11% of CO2 emissions worldwide, and Brazilian deforestation is responsible for less than 2% of CO2 emissions worldwide. Evenif we assume that CO2 emissions directlycontrol temperature, which the computer models do not show, Brazil is not the culprit. And even if CO2 directly controls emissions, there doesn’t seem to be a climate crisis, not according to the IPCC report. But it doesn’t matter. The word “climate” has been pronounced and debate has been silenced. Now only the masters of discourse can speak. “Shut up”, they explained (that’s not my expression; I read it somewhere).
The system still manages to maintain a lot of people in some kind of collectivehypnosis. The system shows the word “nation” and the hypnotized crowd responds: “no, no; bad; Hitler”. The same system shows the word “migration” and the crowd responds: “good, good; diversity”, without thepossibility of discussing that there are pros and cons to migration, there are pros and cons to nationalism. But that’s impossible to discuss. There are only the automatic reactions that areallowed.
The system shows the picture of a forest on fire, a picture from 20 years ago, but pretends it is Brazil today, and people react: “Brazil is bad, bad; lungs of the world; let’s invade it.” It’s like we are living in some sort of zombie apocalypse where people cannot discuss things.
The system can train less and less people to respond automatically like that in hypnosis, but they still have the media (I’m sorry the media here; I’m not talking about you; the media in general). And the media is still an echo chamber influencing other media and some decision makers – some key decision makers, including some corporate decision makers, who can make completely wrong decisions, like senseless threats of boycotts, for example, against Brazil, because they are hypnotized. Because many decision makers don’t react to real people, they react to the media and think the media conveysthevoice of the people. International law itself is under serious threat when a leader tweets a 20-year old picture saying it is the Amazon on fire now, and the echo chamber immediately starts calling for the breaking of Brazil’s sovereignty, or for retaliations against our products, without any base on any treaty or instrument. It looks like a Stalinist revolutionary justice to me. Accuse, execute. But you would say: Where is justice, where is the rule of law?” People say: “climate crisis, shut up.” It is the precautionary principle, in a way. I think Stalin and other dictators used very well the precautionary principle: they just killed a lot of people without bothering if they were really a threat to their system. I think that is a good use of the precautionarysystem.
Based on that same sort of Stalinist reasoning, the media and some politicians are starting to demonize meat, for example. Someone suggested we should resort to cannibalism to save the planet by not consuming bovine meat, which “destroys the Amazon”, in their narrative. So did we really come to that point? Do they want us all to eat “Soylent Green”? After using climate change to control energy supplies, to limit countries’ sovereignty, do they want to use it to control what people eat? What’s more invasive, and more “efficient”, than that? Where is human dignity, where is the sense of justice, where is common sense?
The psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan said: “If God does not exist, nothing is permitted.” It is the opposite of the traditional Dostoevsky quote, where he said: “If God does not exist, everything is permitted” (which the book itself, Crime and Punishment, shows is not true). But Lacan said “if God doesn’t exist, nothing is permitted.” And that is what we are seeing. Take away man’s symbolic dimension, (I don’t mean God is a symbol, but in a way you need the symbolic dimension to relate to God and to perceive the idea of God an the reality of God); so take away man’s symbolic dimensions where God inhabits, I think, and not even eating meat is permitted anymore.
The destruction of the symbolic dimension is an old objective of Marxism, as wesaw, or as I tried to suggest. First, they tried it by reducing man to an economic animal, the reductio ad oeconomicum. Now they have something else, even more powerful, the reductio ad climaticum. And together, thanks to “hegemony”, the concept that all the “causes” are linked, the banners of the left, when you accept that sort of reductio ad climaticum, there come together gender ideology and oikophobia, the other instruments of globalism. So everything that you can use basically to divide the people and to subjugate the people isgood.
It is curious because, for some time, at least in theory, the left wanted to unify the people, or so they said. But now they realized to people are against them. And so they try to fragment the people, to destroy the unit of nation, to destroy the family and to destroy the unity of human thinking itself.
In the past, there used to be social problems. There stillare social problems. But history showed that they could be addressed without resort to Stalinist dictatorship, as has been the case to a large extent, especially in developed countries, but also developing countries. What was the social question? It was not the real drive for people who wanted do establish socialism or communism. The social question, social problems, social injustice was only a pretext for dictatorship. Now they are doing the same with climate, or trying to. You don’t have to disrupt your whole economy to reduce emissions, even assuming that emissions control the temperature. Actually the United States is the only developing country reducing emissions, although it is not trying to, justbecause of technological advance. For some reason, or for reasons that we think we understand, the most drastical solutions are sold, as ifthey were the only ones thatcan face the challenge.
So what happens is that Brazil is being “otherized”, to use the term dear to some thinking of the left. We are becoming, together with President Trump, President Bolsonaro is becoming this big other, the one that it is lawful to hate. Another mark of this sort of leftist ideology, they always need this sort of big enemy. We are being otherized, because, as I said, we are trying to stray away from the globalist pack. For us who care about those issues, we can say that the main thing at stake now is the dignity of the human being, and not anything else. Today, because of the way they use climatism as their main fighting instrument, the Amazon is ground zero of the fight against globalism and for the recovery of the human being in itsfullness.
Thank you very much.
Moderator: Thank you very much forthose introspective and deeply philosophical remarks. I wish I had a pen and paper with me to take notes but I will make sure to rewatch this event again. We have about fifteen minutes for question and answer. We have some microphones going around. So, if one… please wait until I call on you, and if you could please identify yourself with your name, the organization you are affiliated with. And please keep your question in question form. The only person to make remarks here is the Foreign Minister. Thank you. Let me see if you could please raise your hand if you have a question. We have a gentleman here... Member of the media, I think we’ll have about a few minutes at the end of the event. But, you know, I called on you first, I will give youan opportunity. Can you wait for themicrophone? We have a microphone coming up right here. Thank you so much.
Luiz Fernando da Silva Pinto: Minister, you said two things that are very rare to hear in presentations like this. One is the symbolic dimension. The other one is the dictatorship of the climate, or climatism. Would you...would you explain why you decided to have those topics in this presentation and would you explain a little bit more about them? Thankyou.
Minister: Sure. Thank you, Luiz Fernando. Well, I always think it’s important to try to go beyond the surface and try to explore the intellectual and spiritual, so to say, infrastructure that is beneath the economic and political events and developments. So I try to make a suggestion of a way of research; I don’t think I have the truth about anything. It’s just a suggestion of trying to look at some sort of deeper dimension. I do think that the human being is governed by its thought, call it interior, call it soul, or spirit, or whatever, or reasoning, and that’s where things actually happen, right? So theeconomic, political phenomena are consequences of what people think. I think that’s basically it. So, if people like, I think it’s the case today, have so much difficulty (I guess it’s not the case of people here, I know... but, in the culture as a whole), people have somuch difficulty in thinking beyond the immediate reality, have so much difficulty in analyzing things, in a non-emotive way, and they react immediately without reasoning, without looking for information about impulses that they receive, I think that we have a problem and we should analyze that, and I try to formulate that as the loss of the symbolic faculty.
And regarding climate, what’s the expression? “Climate dictatorship”, did I use that expression?Basically, as I said, I try to put it, I want to distinguish what is the phenomenon of climate change, and the way we should study it, which I think is scientifically, looking at the value of the theorythat it’s basically controlled by CO2 emissions, which, from what I have studied, not being a scientist, I think there is some lack of evidence for. But people think there are a lot evidence. I think it’s a question of scientific debate, but my problem is not with that; it’s with the political use of climate change and the climate alarmism. And what we see today in the political debate around the world, for me it seems a question of ideology, it’s a question of using the impression of a phenomenon in order to attain some political goals, without going back to the real, serene, calm scientific study of the phenomenon. And I think, in the past that has been the mark of, yes, maybe dictatorships, where you don’t realize reality because you don’t have the symbolic dimension, but you just react to impulses, and are led sometimes to wrong decisions, because you don’t analyze things. So that’s basicallyit.
Moderator: Right, let’s go to this side of the room… the gentleman in the front…if you could just wait for the microphone…thank you.
Alfonso Aguilar: Thank you, Mr. Minister, for your presentation. [I’m] Alfonso Aguilar, International Human Rights Group. One of the frustrating things about the criticism of new populist leaders like President Bolsonaro, President Trump, by the Left, is this immediate attack that they’re autocratic; sometimes they even go and say, and use the word even fascist. As you said in your presentation, President Bolsonaro, just like PresidentTrump,
have embraced liberal economic policieswhich call for less government intervention. Ironically they propose policies that would call for more government intervention in the lives of people. So, in a sense, what they’re proposing is more autocratic than what the new populist leaders are proposing. Could you comment on that a little bit?
Minister: Yeah, sure. Thank you, Alfonso. One way of approaching that is this traditional, in this case not Stalinist, but Leninist dogma or advice to his followers that you should criticize your enemies on what you do and call your enemies what you are. So the autocratic slander is basically that, I think. And I think you’re totally right: how can you be autocratic when you are for more opening? How can you be autocratic (like people who know Brazil here know) when there has never been the amount of independence among the three branches of power – and the Executive is just one of them? And we try to navigate 100% inside the Constitution to try to do the things that the President has been elected to do, and his team is trying to help him. It’s very hard to argue with that. But then we come to the question of words without reality behind. We just say the word “autocratic” and people react to that, “Yeah! It’s autocratic”. Ok, but prove me, or at least give me a hint of why is it autocratic, right? Sometimes it’s a vague thing, but there never appear really the base for people who call us autocratic. So I think we come back to the question of the misuse of words, the use of words as tools for that sort of collective hypnosis, and not tools for examining and studyingreality.
Moderator: Right, we have a question over here on the left side of the room, thank you!
Isabela Patriota: Hi, thank you, Minister! My name is Isabela Patriota, I’m aPhD student at the University of São Paulo. I’d like to know if treating the climate change as ideology, or in some part denying it,cannot turn the international trade of Brazilian meat harder in this situation.
Minister: So, everything I said, or most of, or a good part of what I said, was trying to explain why I consider the phenomenon of climate change has been captured for political purposes. And I think that question points exactly in that sense. I think in order to impose all kinds of control that people sometimes advocate because of a perceived climate crisis, you need to have some sort of strong evidence for that, right? If you say, “Oh, our country is at war and we need to break the rule of law, we need to imprison potential spies”, okay, that’s tenable, but then at least you have to see the war somewhere! But now we just… okay, it’s like you’d say, “Oh, there’s a war and, okay, let’s imprison everyone who’s a threat”, but where’s the war? No one saw the fires being shot! (So just to exaggerate a little bit!). And unfortunately trade can be a victim of that sort of ideology. But, forexample, countries like Germany are very sensible and there was lots of good sense in the dialogue we have had with them since this episode started, they want to do trade with us, we want to do trade with them. I believe they committed the European Commission to make a study about the real impact, or real dimension of fires in the Amazon, and it showed that it’s basically on average: some fire a little bit more than last year and a lot less than a few years back. So I think it’s a good example of non-ideology, of looking at the problem and situation and trying to examine it according to the data of reality and notjust jumping to conclusions and say, “OhBrazil’s destroying the forests, so let’s harm Brazil!” I think it’s a real question of reality versus ideology here. Thank you.
Moderator: Time for one more brief question. The woman right here with the black jacket, thankyou!
Claudia Trevisan: Hi, Minister, how are you? Claudia Trevisan, I’m a non-resident fellow at the Foreign Policy Institute at SAIS. I’d like to talk about a subject that’s discussed a lot on this city, which is China. In your view of this fight for the West civilization, where do you see China? And a more concrete question is what can you expect from President Bolsonaro’s visit to Beijing later this year? Thankyou.
Minister: Thank you, Claudia, nice to see you again. I think China is a country that navigated very well the globalization, that’s totally their merit – I think they’re probably the country that got the most out of globalization and became a much more prosperous nation thanks to all those economic changes, and that’s part of reality now. Of course thiscreated some imbalances – if that’s the case, I don’t want to comment on the US trade policy, but that seems the case from a US point of view – and it’s not, I think, China’s fault, but it’s a problem for some people, in this case, in the US. So, I basically see it in a very practical way, for Brazil it’s being different, Brazil has benefited a lot from trade with China; there is some downside in terms of some sectorsthat we lost to Chinese competitiveness, but then again nothing against China, that is just a recognition of their success and some of our failures. And we’re also trying to address those imbalances from our point of view. And our coming visit to China is part of the effort to address that, to have more access to the Chinese market in sectors that we were not present, and to negotiate in the same way, with the interest China has in Brazil. What we want is to perform a normal set of negotiations where each one has his cards and we try to arrive at a common beneficial result. We do have the feeling that in the past Brazil didn’t negotiate well with China, we didn’t use well our cards – and I mean, again, no fault of China, fault of our negotiators, and now we’re trying to build that to keep what we have, to build from that. So I don’t see at all this sort of adversarial relationship with China, I think it’s also a cooperative relationship that can come in mutual benefit. By the way, China, through, for example, their Chargé d’affaires in Brasilia, during all this turmoil about the Amazon, expressed very clearly their support for Brazil’s sovereignty. That’s been extremely important to us, and we do recognize that. So that’s basically how we approach it. Thank you.
Moderator: Perfect, and with that, Foreign Minister, thank you! It’s been an honor and a privilege to hear from you today. Thank you!
* Source: Ministry of Foreign Affairs