President-elect Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva (PT) confirmed this Friday (9) the appointment of Mauro Vieira to the Itamaraty — sponsored by Celso Amorim, the PT’s main reference in foreign affairs, his name had been quoted for the vacancy in recent weeks . Thus, the diplomat resumes the position he held in 2015 and 2016, in the second term of Dilma Rousseff (PT).
If at that time the Ministry of Foreign Affairs was experiencing a critical moment, with budget problems and diplomats’ dissatisfaction, the context that Vieira faces today is even more challenging.
His mission will be to restore Brazil’s international image, relegated to the condition of a pariah during the Bolsonaro government due to setbacks in the environment, the ultraconservative turn promoted by former Chancellor Ernesto Araújo and the attitudes of Jair Bolsonaro (PL) —the support for Vladimir Putin on a visit to Russia days before the start of the Ukrainian War for insulting Brigitte Macron, First Lady of France.
This in the midst of an increasingly complex geopolitical scenario, in which a conflict unfolds in European territory and tensions between China and the United States intensify.
Vieira’s ability to cope with this situation divides opinions in the diplomatic circle. Roberto Abdenur, with a 45-year career in the area, claims that he is an “excellent solution for Itamaraty” and a “quality diplomat”. Citing the credentials of the new chancellor —Vieira has served in the three most important positions in his diplomatic career, the embassies in Washington and Buenos Aires and at the UN, in New York—, Abdenur says that he will be able to help rebuild Brazil’s reputation after what he describes as an almost destructive management of the folder in the last four years.
“There were two theories about how and when Brazil could regain its credibility. One of them said that this would take years. I think we can get back on top quickly. And that has already started,” said Abdenur, who is also a consultant at the Brazilian Center for International Relations (Cebri).
Other sectors of foreign relations say they are frustrated with Vieira’s nomination. For the ears by Sheet on condition of anonymity, the choice represents a return to the Itamaraty of the past, which may even have achieved a renowned position 15 years ago, but distanced itself from the increasingly dynamic agenda of international relations —in which representativeness, science and technology gain space .
According to this group, the ideal chancellor would be a woman. This would not only signal a search for renewal abroad, thus enhancing Brazilian “soft power”, but could also strengthen the ministry, which had been losing space in the formulation of foreign policy since before Bolsonaro’s administration.
There are still criticisms of Vieira’s profile. Considered a good backstage diplomat, he has political experience, a wide network of contacts and good transit in Congress —he worked in the ministries of Science and Technology and Social Security and in the General Secretariat of the Itamaraty, responsible for the portfolio’s relationship with the rest from the Esplanade. He is also seen as loyal by the PT, having maintained contact with Lula’s interlocutors during the period in which the now president-elect was imprisoned in Curitiba.
It does not, however, have commercial diplomacy as a strong point and tends to avoid confrontations. He is also not known for his political convictions – he is close to names considered problematic in the Itamaraty, such as Bolsonarist Luís Fernando Serra, a former ambassador to France who publicly criticized Lula three years ago, with whom he is a friend.
Vieira will not be alone. Amorim, to whom the diplomat was a longtime adviser, may occupy the Secretariat for Strategic Affairs (SAE). Thus, he would continue advising the government on diplomatic issues, but without the wear and tear of international travel and day-to-day negotiations of a chancellor.
Lula himself has committed to making a series of visits, exercising a presidential-level diplomacy that some specialists say is necessary for Brazil’s return to the international chessboard.
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