José Serra, Brazil’s presidential opposition candidate, promises substantial changes to the country’s foreign policy if elected next Sunday. He specifically mentions Brazil’s lobbying for a seat at the UN Security Council, the functioning of Mercosur and relations with Cuba and Iran.
“Mercosur impedes Brazil from advancing in free trade agreements with third parties because any unilateral negotiation is conditioned to the other members,” said Serra who also was ironic about the recent agreement reached with Israel.
“If we are elected, we are going to implement a trade policy which Brazil lacks. There have been too many trips overseas. The world reached many trade agreements in the last eight years, and Brazil only managed a very small one with Israel,” added the opposition candidate who is several points behind the ruling coalition candidate Dilma Rousseff in public opinion polls.
“This government only managed a limited agreement with Israel that is not even worth the Israeli oranges since they come from settlements that are considered disputed Palestinian territory. What a success,” said Serra ironically.
Regarding relations with Cuba and Iran, the national broadcaster Globo quoted Serra saying that “I survived thanks to groups who fought for human rights when I was arrested in Chile following the military coup of Pinochet in 1973. I personally value and have great respect for human rights and those who are committed to them. As a country you can have relations with a nation ruled by a dictator, but you can be sure I will not express admiration or cultivate friendship with a dictator.”
Brazilian president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva has been severely criticized for his close relations sometimes described in the local press as “cozy” with Cuba’s Fidel Castro and Iran’s Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
Finally Serra criticized the current Lula administration approach and strategy to have the UN reviewed and a permanent seat for Brazil in the Security Council.
“If we make it to the Security Council, great. But this government opened embassies even in countries with a population of 15.000. That’s senseless. Wasting money in such a way is not coherent particularly when it is done with the purpose of having an alleged majority support in something which even Argentina is against.”
Serra faces Ms Rousseff in the run-off next Sunday, October 31, but is trailing in opinion polls after president Lula virtually took command of the ruling party’s campaign.