Foreign Minister Ernesto Araújo: Brazil has ‘sovereignty over its own territory’

Foreign Minister Ernesto Araújo: Brazil has ‘sovereignty over its own territory’

Brazil’s foreign minister, Ernesto Araújo, speaking to White House reporters, (Photo ©2019 Doug Christian)
Brazil’s foreign minister, Ernesto Araújo speaki to White House reporters on Friday after meeting with President Donald Trump, (Photo ©2019 Doug Christian/TMN)

THE WHITE HOUSE – Brazil’s foreign minister, Ernesto Araújo, and Eduardo Bolsonaro, a son of Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro, met with President Donald Trump on Friday at the White House to discuss potential U.S. help combating about 88,000 Amazon rain forest fires devastating the region.

President Bolsonaro said a few days ago that he had asked Trump about aid and Trump replied that when it comes to determining any U.S. aid, “he couldn’t make a decision without hearing from Brazil.”

Araújo told reporters outside the West Wing that the meeting went very well and that he had thanked Trump for asserting that Brazil should have autonomous control over the rain forest. The foreign minister also said there is a “special relationship’ between Brazil and the United States.

Araújo said that much of the conversation in the Oval Office was about the Amazon but he asserted that the emissions from the fires were not only Brazil’s responsibility.

TMN then asked if protection of the Amazon is the world’s responsibility. Araújo replied: “Yeah, we don’t agree with that. We think that … we think that’s for other countries actually to share the Amazon, not only Brazil, to … like other countries that share important ecosystems, in other countries, in other continents … to rationally develop their resources in a way that is sustainable.”

He continued, “According to all the international commitments that they have, all the international instruments that exist on the environment, and not to invent new instruments just because there were fires that are on average, compared to previous years.”

Araújo told reporters that about 30% of the conversation was about the Amazon and that Brazil is “welcoming specific cooperation to fight the fires.” He asserted that the European Union reported that the present Amazon fires are no more than in previous years.

TMN asked Araújo about the relationship between President Jair Bolsonaro and French President Emmanuel Macron, after President Bolsonaro complained that he was insulted by Macron’s assertion that Brazil does not have sovereignty over the Amazon.

Araújo replied: “The president felt very offended, among other reasons, because President Macron called him a liar without any base. I think the only example President Macron gave of how he thought President Bolsonaro had lied was that because the head of the space agency was fired, but he was fired because he presented incorrect data without authorization to do so. So that’s not an issue, I think.”

Araújo continued, “So, [the] president was very offended by that stance, especially I think, and all the Brazilian people, or most of the Brazilian people I can say.. so I think, we’re offended by the way President Macron was so dismissive about Brazilian sovereignty over its own territory.”

In the wake of the fires, Brazil’s far-right President Bolsonaro faces an uphill battle in overcoming both the blazes and his country’s financial standing with other countries. Pressure is growing on Brazil. Pension funds, asset managers and companies worldwide are issuing warnings, halting pending deals and stopping purchases of Brazilian government bonds.

VF Corp., which owns The North Face and Timberland, has suspended all purchases of Brazilian leather.

Additionally, Norway’s Nordea Asset Management has quarantined Brazilian government bonds. The firm declared it will no longer buy the bonds, and only sell them. Nordea said: “President Jair Bolsonaro is expected to weaken environmental protections to accommodate extractive activities, agribusiness expansion and development of large-scale infrastructure projects. We have come to conclude that these risks have materialized.”

Doug Christian, The White House

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