Brazil’s presidential candidates differ on foreign policy

Bolsonaro aims for closer ties with the US, Haddad focuses on Mercosur

Published in 26/10/2018 - 15:20 By Ana Cristina Campos - Brasília

Presidential hopefuls Jair Bolsonaro (PSL) and Fernando Haddad (PT) have presented different approaches to Brazil’s foreign policy. The two candidates will face off in a second round of vote next Sunday (Oct. 28).

Bolsonaro has advocated closer ties with the US and praised the policies implemented by Donald Trump. Regionally, the candidate argues that Brazil should distance itself from countries like Venezuela and Cuba.

Candidatos à Presidência Jair Bolsonaro (PSL) e Fernando Haddad (PT).
Candidates Jair Bolsonaro (left) and Fernando Haddad – Tânia Regô / Marcelo Camargo / Agência Brasil

Haddad, in turn, recommends the strengthening of integration in Latin America through Mercosur, Unasur (Union of South American Nations), and Celac (the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States). His plans also include bolstering Brazil’s involvement in multilateral entities like Brics—formed by Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa.

Jair Bolsonaro

In the government plan submitted to electoral authorities, Bolsonaro mentions “a new Foreign Ministry,” saying the Itamaraty, as the ministry is known, must work to foster values that have always been associated with the Brazilian people. The other front, the document says, will focus on boosting trade with countries capable of contributing to Brazil’s economic and technological value.

“We will no longer praise murderous dictatorships and disdain or even attack important democracies, like the US, Israel, and Italy. We will not forge spurious commercial deals or hand over the property of Brazilian people to international dictators,” his manifesto reads.

Comparing himself to the US president in a press conference on October 20, Bolsonaro remarked: “It’s about aiming for a great Brazil like that—the way Trump wants America to be great.”

“[Trump] decreased the tax burden in the production sector—which has been criticized, but it generated employment and attracted companies from overseas. England did that 20 years ago. I admire [Trump] for that. Or am I expected to admire [Venezuelan President Nicolás] Maduro, or the government of Cuba?” Bolsonaro added.

At regional level, Bolsonaro’s proposal includes consolidating integration “with all Latin-American brothers who are free from a dictatorship.” “We need to bring a new direction to our partnership axes.”

Regarding Mercosur, the candidate said in the press conference that the agreement cannot be “thrown away.” “We can’t tolerate, however, the use of agreements like that to serve interests of ideological nature—the way the PT did,” he said.

Fernando Haddad

In his official government plan, Haddad mentions “the resumption of a pro-active international attitude” through the strengthening of initiatives like Brics and the India– Brazil–South Africa Dialog Forum (IBSA). “This is crucial to building a more balanced world, less dependent on a single pole of power, overcoming US hegemony,” Haddad’s manifesto says.

The presidential hopeful also espouses closer ties of “friendship and partnership” with African and Arabic countries, and said that his administration will work to promote the overhaul in the UN Security Council with a view of building a decentralized, more balanced world.

“The changes in the international landscape, especially in the US under Trump, point towards a departure from multilateral organisms, less weight for normative aspects, and a greater emphasis on old politics, with power through unilateral actions. Risks posed by this stance include the aggravation of conflicts and unilateral military actions, but it also makes more room for a decentralized world, less subject to the hegemonic influence of a single center of power,” PT’s plan of government reads.

In Haddad’s plan, Brazil must resume and consolidate the foreign policy for Latin American integration and South-South cooperation, in support of multilateralism and dialog, “repudiating interventions and forcible solutions.” “Brazil will also recover its active participation in the International Human Rights System,” the text says.

The strides made in regional integration must be restored, Haddad argues. His government, he vows, will promote regional production chains, expand infrastructure, and strengthen development funding tools—like the Mercosur Structural Convergence Fund (Focem).

Translation: Fabrício Ferreira -  Edition: Carolina Pimentel / Nira Foster

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