Anti-Americanism Is Hurting Brazil, Says Former Brazilian Ambassador to the US

The man who represented Brazil in Washington for the last three years is very critical of the way that country is conducting its foreign policy. In an interview to Veja magazine, published this past weekend, former ambassador Roberto Abdenur, 64, says that a short-sighted group filled with anti-Americanism is controlling foreign policy in Brazil.

He also charges them with using ideological indoctrination in a way that not even the military dictatorship in the 1960s and 1970s has done. 

Abdenur was forced to leave his post in Washington despite his decades-long friendship with Brazilian Foreign Minister Celso Amorim. Upon his return to Brazil he opted to go into retirement as a way of protest.

According to reports in the Brazilian press, the ex-ambassador has been snubbed since openly criticizing Brazil's decision to recognize China as a market economy. Amorim gave him a chance to recant but Abdenur preferred to maintain his principles. The old friendship is gone now.

"There is a very strong ideological element present in  Brazil's foreign policy," Abdenur told Veja. "The South-South idea as the dominant axis shows a backward anti-Americanism. This has been showing inside the Itamaraty (the Foreign Ministry) in several ways. There has been an indoctrination.

"Veteran diplomats, not only the young ones, have been forced to read some texts when they arrive or leave Brasí­lia. Books with this ideological posture's bias. This is something irksome. You don't need a dean of discipline at the Itamaraty."

According to the retired ambassador his ex colleagues in the Foreign Ministry  feel that Brazilian diplomats nowadays only get promoted when they are attuned with certain political and ideological line and not due to their capacity or skills. He also charges that there is no respect for plurality of opinions. 

He recalled that the military during their reign, adopted a simplistic foreign policy based in a blind anti-communism, which was imposed by force. In contrast to what is happening now, however, diplomats during the dictatorship were never indoctrinated and were not forced to adhere to that ideology. Since president General Geisel, he says, until the end of the Fernando Henrique Cardoso's administration the ideological pressure had disappeared.

Abdenur, however, praised Brazil for starting a partnership with India, Japan and Germany eyeing a permanent seat at the UN's Security Council. He also applauded the country's leadership role in the G20 and the Doha Round negotiations as well as the Brazilian effort to open new trade fronts with Africa, Southeast Asia and the Arab countries.   

For the ex-ambassador, Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez is a threat to democracy in Venezuela. "There is a basic difference between Evo Morales and Hugo Chávez," he comments. "Morales comes from a humble background, he is a peasant leader who  became President. Hardly comparing, a similar trajectory of president Lula. Chávez, on the other hand, parachuted into office, tried a coup and then got to power by the democratic way. Unfortunately, he is destroying democracy in Venezuela."

As for the Brasí­lia-Washington relations, Abdenur reserves praise for President Lula:  "It can seem paradoxical, but  the relationship between Brazil and the United States prospered significantly in the last few years. Thanks to a person who has a lot of authority in the Brazilian government, a person with extreme pragmatism and lucidity, who is the president Lula.

"He doesn't hide his displeasure with some things that the Bush administration has been doing, particularly in Iraq. But Lula knows that a better relation with the United States is of interest to Brazil. When I took over the embassy, he told me: "Roberto, I want to leave as a legacy for the future even sounder and wider foundations in the relation between both countries."

Abdenur would like to see Brazil getting closer to the US: "Brazil is, at best, failing to get all the money it could get. The American market is approaching the 2-trillion-dollars mark. It would be vital for Brazil to have preferential advantages of partnership with the United States. I'm not saying we should have signed the FTAA at any rate, but we should have kept on negotiating. 

"We have been stalled for 10 years with 1.4% of the American market. Twenty years ago, our participation was 2.2%. I regret that the only facet of the Brazil-United States relation in which there was no progress was trade. The resources allocated for trade promotion in the United States by the Brazilian government were negligible."

As for China, he would like Brazil to see that country more as a competitor than as a partner: "We cannot have a romantic vision of that China of the past, poor, backward, full of peasants, isolated from the world. China gave an extraordinary jump and today is a power. It has a 1.8-trillion-dollars foreign trade, eight times that of Brazil.

"We have to update the vision of China… When we create myths and want to give the impression that China is our allied, that we lead the country, this is pure nonsense. China today seeks capitalism, globalization, the market."


  • Show Comments (31)

  • gone in 60 seconds

    In The End
    u.s.a, you will never convince a Brazilian who is Anti-American that thier opinion of the US is flawed. Its a broader problem that requires re-education. There is 2 sides to the story. PPGY is right and he is wrong but he is mostly angry at what he sees as American arrogance, like most of the world that is angry with the USA right now. But he is oblivous to reality because what he hears all around him is Anti Americanism, especially from his government, but doesn’t know much about America, its people or how it operates. PPGY is correct in the fact that the USA has a bad problem with foregin policy, but, the US not losing in Iraq, They aren’t doing anything, which is much like losing because the leadership is broken on all levels. Bottom line, the USA shouldn’t even be in Iraq. It was an arrogant, self serving bullying move aimed at installing Democracy in a key region in the Middle East that could do nothing but backfire. And it was based on lies. That dumb ass president is so arrogant and proud, that he would rather send more troops into harms way to save his own legacy, limiting what they can accomplish, than to admit a terrible misjudgement and try to find a solution. America’s problem is Bush, Rice, Cheney etc. plain and simple. Most Americans know this. At least the smart ones do.
    Brazil has problems with social inequality, corruption, violence, drugs etc. You can’t even compare the problems of the 2 countries because they are so different.
    So everyone is right and everyone is wrong. Stop the childish ranting about who is better than who and what country is screwed up because guess what? We all are. And in the end, its gong to be global warming, a solar storm, a meteor, or a million other dooms day scenarios. The earth is going to shake all of us off like a bad case of the fleas. And we deserve it.

  • pwnzer

    Most people in Brazil sees Chavez in the best perspective as a clown, worst as a Castro wanna-be.

    Yes … of course there are exceptions, but the feelings towards Chavez and Morales around here are not good (actually, the media is bombarding Morales since the day in which he started with Petrobras).

    About anti-americanism … well, I agree with Mr. Roberto about the trends on the government.

    It’s dumb to consider China an ally since all they’ve been doing is to crush Brazil in most market levels …

    I think that Brazil has more to do with US or India than it does with Russia or China, but Mr. Bush is really putting a bad name on you guys …

  • Ric

    You can take a bus from Caracas to Boa Vista, Roraima. Why would Chavez attack Boa Vista, or Manaus? What would be the point? Could his planes make it to Brasilia and bomb it? What would he do next, try to occupy it?

    Or maybe he would like some more jungle. Actually the jungle runs out as one flies from Manaus north to Boa vista, itÀ‚´s a savanna. Or maybe he comes across the border with infantry.

    I know some of these Brazilian jungle ops guys. Their training is tough, dirty, muddy, barfy, disgusting. Segundo Bis and others. I doubt that the neighbors to the north come close. Then a US fleet shows up on VenezuelaÀ‚´s border. And itÀ‚´s goodby Chavez.

    Not going to happen. Nothing to gain and everything to lose.

  • PPGY

    The truth about America’s weakness and their third straight war loss seems to really irriate these rednecks…it makes me laugh so fucking hard to see and hear these impotent imperialists changing their diapers everytime someone sneezes now…I love it!

  • u.s.a.

    Lets see: they worship a dead marxist! (che guevarra), they idolize a marked man( Osama B Laden)!!, they follow a communist wannabee with no military (chavez)…And they wagered their casa that Brazil would win the world cup…. They re-elect a corrupt socialist…And they offer themselves up as usefull idiots for the cause…. ….As the first world shrugs them off to “ignore status”…300 years of disfunction is your legacy!!….

  • u.s.a.

    american nationalism seems to really irritate these america haters….it is so hilarious to hear these frothing little impotent losers PPeeing their pants ….

  • BThomas

    If this is true, it is sad
    It is clearly disadvantageous for Brazilian government officials to take such a hard line against a super power, but one can understand why they do sometimes. It is just unfortunate if they are not looking at thing with broader perspective, because true vision in government is what Brazil need right now.

  • PPGY

    Is that all you got? Long live Osama!

  • u.s.a.

    oh those tails between our legs?… Well you can ask your girlfriend what that is ….

  • GTY

    Cold Front & Bo
    PP is right on the money. Both about the poor performance of the US military in Iraq and else where. Are your arguments being those of teenagers.

  • cold front

    PP , don,t be so jealous!!!… your stunted growth is hereditary!! ….

  • PPGY

    Hey…you guys lost 4 choppers in 5 days to those “inferior Russian made weapons” . Your getting your ass kicked in Iraq and the enemy is not flying MIGS, just blowing you all up with anything available. Funny, weapons don’t have to be “formidable” to send you all home packing with your tails beween your legs.

  • cold front

    If in fact middle class venezuelans wish to flee their country for the u.s.a., for political asylum,… then tell them to get LULU in brazil to “take back “his brazilian nationals( illegal aliens) presently in the u.s.a. …

  • cold front

    lets see,… 24 outdated inferior jets… 53 helicopters… and 100,000 rifles… Wow!!!… sounds like a formidable military…. The only threat chavez poses to any one in the world is to his own people… the bluffing blowhard barking midget with the imaginary army…..”

  • Ric

    Well, youÀ‚´re the expert, Bob, but a lot of guys might disagree that Bo lives in this site. He probably has a house somewhere.

  • A brazilian

    This site is full of Brazil-hating rednecks, but I agree with you, by the way “coldfront” writes and his delirous interpretation of his own reality he is more likely to be a teenager.

    Bo is just an idiot that lives in this site copying and pasting bad news in every single article.

  • GTY

    “The latest deal will send 24 Russian-made Sukhoi Su-30 MK2 fighter jets and 53 military helicopters to Venezuela. Chavez also announced that Moscow has agreed to build a Kalashnikov rifle factory in Venezuela. Under a prior deal between the two countries, 100,000 Kalashnikov AK-103 rifles are supposed to arrive in Venezuela this year. (See ACT, May 2005.)”

    Yeah, styrofoam weapons indeed.

  • PPGY

    I know, the truth hurts. But these countries are now trading with the East… China, Russia, Iran and other Islamic countries. They get much better market access and better margins on their products. I am not saying things are perfect, after decades under the imperialistic US thumb, it will take a while. But things are moving in the right direction for them What direction are things moving for you in the US? Are you really another racist redneck like Bo. Or just stupid?

  • PPGY

    Cold Front
    You again prove you are a teenage moron. Chavez has purchased 100,000 AK47’s and 25 MIGs from Russia, who you should really be worried about, now he is now negotiating with Russia to purchase ground to air missles…

    Your getting your asses kicked in Iraq and Afganistan, I wouldn’t bet against Chavez if it was to ever happen.

  • bo

    [quote]Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador, Agrentina, Chile are all better of since their move left and out of the pockets of US businesses…[/quote]

    How old are you is the real question! Because that was on helluva naive statement.

  • PPGY

    Cold Front…er I mean Redneck
    Isn’t it about time you get ready to catch the school bus…with all the other white kids?

  • Ric

    Chavez is no threat to the USA. He is like a pismire ant on oneÀ‚´s ankle. HeÀ‚´ll do fine as long as the price of crude is high. Already the Venezuelan middle class is lining up to leave for Miami and elsewhere. The US should open its doors wide for these people.

    He is also no threat militarily to Brazil. ItÀ‚´s all yada yada yada now but one foot inside this country and he will get an education fast.

  • DavidB

    It is a shame
    I travel a great deal to Brazil and am always amazed at the people and their patience. It is unfortunate that just to their north lies a country who would gladly trade 10 times the current amount if possible. Not 1 TV ad to invite the American people to visit. There is no tourisum marketing at all. With 3000 miles of the most beutiful beaches in the world and only Europeons are asked to come. There is a great lie being told to the Brazilian people about the USA and it is truly a shame. The United States is the cause of all their problems, their poverty. I hope some day the truth will be told and some 500 year old problems for Brazil will be relieved.

  • cold front

    the little man syndrome seems to allways creep in with some, when confronted with sophisticated intelligent americans…Frustrations , nervousness, insecurities, un founded emotions,feelings of inferioty , jealousys,bad breath, and a host of other afflictions ,making it difficult to have a meaning full dialogue…But you know with a little hard work, determination, and ability ,it is possible to. realize your dreams…this is american…And the u.s. a. is the greatest most powerfull nation on the face of the earth………………………..

  • cold front

    to pp,…in my country pp means to have to piss… or in the case of a frustated person they may be “pissy”,either way its better to be pissed off then pissed on…in the case of your insecuritys and low self esteem and your anti american paranoia,regarding the u.s. …GO PISS OFF!!!!….

  • cold front

    venezuela tyranny against the u.s.?? And hows that…?With styrofoam rifles with a imaginary army perhaps…..comical south american midget blowhards are shrugged off as cartoon characters…in the u. s.No actually, only a handfull of blowhard bluffing midgets have tyranny against the u.s…..mere pests to the sole superpower!…..

  • PPGY

    “I think that man is nothing but trouble for S. America. Based on his actions and his tyrany against the United States. ”

    How dumb is that?? What does tyrany against the United States mean…because he called your President the devil, if that constitutes tyrany, then the entire world has “tyrany” against the US, you have no friends and we all wish for your demise. Why would Chavez attack Brazil? What a dumb ass statement, how old are you anyway? Don’t you really hate it that South American countries have found new and better friends and that they do not need crumbs from the US anymore? Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador, Agrentina, Chile are all better of since their move left and out of the pockets of US businesses…it must really piss you off, I go to sleep happy every night knowing that.

  • Rem Macson

    Very nice
    What if Chavez decides to attack Brazil someday? I think he’s very capable. Chavez is the worst thing to happen to Venezuela. He appeals to the poor to stay in power but his intentions are anything but worthy. I think that man is nothing but trouble for S. America. Based on his actions and his tyrany against the United States. 😉

  • cold front

    Good Luck, Dear Mr. Neves !
    Mr.Neves, I congratulate you on a well written informative article…. With venezuela under the grip of a pathetic blowhard communist wannabe…. It seems some south american leaders hold sway over legions of anti american che guevvara worshipping ignorants…. Americans do not take very seriously such impotent little midgets…Here,s to your countrys future !,.. if it can ever rid itself of its self induced coma…Its self destuctive low esteem,its pathetic reputation for doing business… its rampant corruption, its culture of crime, its trafficking of illegal aliens to the north, and europe…etc, etc….

  • GTY

    Finally, a Brazilian governement offical who is pragmatic and has a backbone. No wonder they made him retire.

  • usa

    A fantatstic well written piece!!!!!!

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