In the speech marking the opening of the 71st United Nations (UN) General Assembly, delivered Tuesday (September 20), Brazilian President Michel Temer reiterated Brazil’s “non-negotiable” commitment with democracy.
He mentioned the case which led to the impeachment of President Dilma Rousseff – conducted, he said, “in total compliance with constitutional proceedings.”
“Brazil has just been through a long and complex process, ruled and conducted by the National Congress and the Brazilian Supreme Court, which culminated in an impeachment. All transpired in total compliance with constitutional proceedings.”
Temer seized the moment to invite foreign investors to make business with Brazil. “Our development project comes chiefly with partnerships for investment, trade, science, and technology. Our ties with countries of all continents will be decisive here,” he declared.
The president stressed that Brazil has an autonomous judiciary branch, an active body of prosecutors, and agencies in the executive and legislative which fulfill their duties.
“Isolated interests do not prevail, but rather the force of institutions, under the watchful eyes of a plural society and an entirely free press,” Temer said, shortly before describing as the country’s present goal the recovery of economic growth, aimed at bringing back employment to Brazilian workers.
Also mentioned were international conflicts, such as the one between Israel and Palestine and the Syrian war. According to the president, in a world “still so deeply marked by hate and sectarianism, the Olympic and Paralympic Games in Rio showed that nations can come together under an atmosphere of peace and harmony.”
The president went on to praise the reestablishment of diplomatic relations between Cuba and the US, and condemned the protectionism adopted by a number of countries in agriculture.
In line with addresses previously held by other Brazilian presidents, Temer restated Brazil’s stance in defense of a reform in the UN Security Council by noting that the sowers of discord have reinvented themselves, but multilateral institutions have not.
He further stated that “Brazil has been warning for decades that global governance structures – many of which antiquated and not in connection with reality – should be made more representative. The UN Security Council must be reformed. We’ll keep collaborating towards overcoming the impasse surrounding this topic.”
The delegations of Ecuador, Costa Rica, Bolivia, Venezuela, Cuba and Nicaragua walked out of the auditorium as Temer stepped to the dais to speak. In his address, Temer said that Brazil lives in a “full democracy” and insisted that the impeachment process against Rousseff followed a “constitutional order.”
He concluded by saying “We have given an example to the world.”
Traditionally, Brazil has been the first country to address the General Assembly dating back to its 10th session in 1955, when other countries were reluctant to kick off the event, including the United Nation’s host country, the United States. Brazil volunteered to speak first, and the tradition has endured for more than 60 years.
In his address, Temer also referred to the migrant crisis and the rise of extremism as global “deficits” and said his government is committed to addressing these issues.
Brazil, Temer said, is following the “right path.” He also stated that “development is more than an objective, it is an imperative … development is tantamount to dignity.”
The new government sees Temer’s UN speech as a way to move forward from political uncertainty. However, protesters gathered outside the hotel in which the Brazilian delegation is housed, and like in São Paulo have been chanting “Fora Temer”, or “Out with Temer”, whom they accuse of staging a new parliamentary coup d’état.
Temer on Monday took part in the United Nations General Assembly’s High-Level Meeting on Addressing Large Movements of Refugees and Migrants. Later he held bilateral meetings with the presidents of Portugal, Marcelo Rebelo de Souza, and Uruguay, Tabaré Vázquez.
The latter was an opportunity to help mend differences between the two countries. During the Dilma Rousseff impeachment crisis, the Uruguayan government repeatedly criticized the process and labeled it as “unfair.”
The highlight of Temer’s New York trip will be a Wednesday meeting with international businessmen and investors. Accompanied by his Secretary for Investments, Wellington Moreira Franco, the Brazilian President will try to attract companies willing to invest in Brazil.
During his speech about the refugee crisis, Temer declared that Brazil has hosted more than 95,000 refugees from 79 nationalities. Official numbers from the country’s Ministry of Justice, however, show that the real number is ten times smaller: 8,800 people entered Brazil under as refugees.
Temer’s Minister of Justice, Alexandre de Moraes, justified the discrepancy, stating that the UN doesn’t recognize as refugees migrants who have escaped natural disasters – which exclude the thousands of Haitians who have come to Brazil recently.