O que é este blog?

Este blog trata basicamente de ideias, se possível inteligentes, para pessoas inteligentes. Ele também se ocupa de ideias aplicadas à política, em especial à política econômica. Ele constitui uma tentativa de manter um pensamento crítico e independente sobre livros, sobre questões culturais em geral, focando numa discussão bem informada sobre temas de relações internacionais e de política externa do Brasil. Para meus livros e ensaios ver o website: www.pralmeida.org.

sexta-feira, 11 de janeiro de 2019

Política externa brasileira: artigos da imprensa internacional

Graças ao excelente trabalho matinal (e suspeito que também noturno) de meu amigo Pedro Luiz Rodrigues, continuo a receber, todos os dias, na primeira hora, o melhor e o que de mais importante, que no dia anterior ou no próprio dia, é publicado na imprensa internacional sobre os grandes temas de interesse geral, para um público seleto e cultivado.
Paulo Roberto de Almeida

The Economist, Londres- 11.1. 2019
The contradictions of Brazil’s foreign policy
The new foreign minister is putting the country’s soft power at risk

“In Brazil past glory is more frequently associated with diplomacy than with military feats,” notes Rubens Ricupero, a former minister, in his monumental history of his country’s dealings with the world. This legacy is above all the achievement of the Baron of Rio Branco, the foreign minister from 1902 to 1912, who through peaceful negotiation settled the country’s borders with all ten of its neighbours (in some cases expanding its territory).
The values Rio Branco espoused—peace, moderation, trust in international law, non-intervention and what would now be called the pursuit of soft power—became integral to Brazil’s idea of itself, Mr Ricupero argues.And Itamaraty, as the foreign ministry is known (from the palace in Rio de Janeiro it formerly occupied), came to be seen as the Rolls-Royce of Brazilian government, its prestige based on meritocracy and knowledge.
So the appointment of Ernesto Araújo as foreign minister in the new government of Jair Bolsonaro has come as a shock to the Brazilian intelligentsia. Mr Araújo is a career diplomat, but a fairly junior one. Aged 51, he only recently achieved ambassadorial rank. His mission, he said, is “to liberate Brazilian foreign policy” and Itamaraty “through truth”. But this truth “cannot be taught by analytical deduction”, he added. Rather, it is religious in nature. “God is back and the nation is back,” he has written.
Mr Araújo’s foreign policy will confront what he denounces as “globalism”, a sneering term for openness to the world. Diplomats should read the New York Times less and Brazilian authors more, he said.
Mr Bolsonaro wants to pull Brazil out of the Paris climate accord. His government has aligned itself with populist-nationalists in other countries—above all Donald Trump, but also the leaders of Italy, Hungary and Poland. Mr Bolsonaro has seemed to entertain the idea of inviting the United States to set up a military base. Like Mr Trump, he has declared himself a foe of China. He visited Taiwan during last year’s election campaign.
Certainly, Itamaraty has sometimes combined sophistication with do-nothing complacency. And in their critique of foreign policy under governments led by the Workers’ Party (pt) from 2003 to 2016, Mr Bolsonaro’s people have a point. The pt abandoned some of Rio Branco’s values. Its priority of “south-south” links was often a veil for anti-Americanism. It failed to stand up for democracy in Latin America, preferring to ally itself with left-wing dictatorships in Venezuela and Cuba.
But Mr Araújo risks making the same mistake—of basing policy on ephemeral ideological affinity, rather than on underlying national interest. His assault on “globalism” also exposes a contradiction at the heart of Mr Bolsonaro’s project. The new president’s powerful economy minister, Paulo Guedes, promises liberal reforms, including privatisation and opening Brazil to trade and competition. The best way to do that is not to ally itself slavishly with the protectionist-in-chief in the White House. Mr Bolsonaro’s stance on climate change has already dented the chances of the European Union concluding a long-delayed trade agreement with Mercosur (to which Brazil belongs).
Mr Bolsonaro heads a ramshackle alliance of populist-nationalists (notably two of his sons), religious zealots, business lobbies and the security forces. Mr Araújo owes his job to the first two groups. The armed forces—represented by seven retired generals in the cabinet—espouse a different kind of nationalism, grounded in hard-headed geopolitics. They are interested in co-operation with the United States against organised crime, but will resist automatic alignment with Mr Trump. Then there is Mr Guedes, who has seized control of trade policy from Itamaraty. The economic team has no interest in quarrelling either with China, a big investor with which Brazil has a trade surplus, or with Arab countries (by moving Brazil’s embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, as Mr Bolsonaro has promised).
Faced with these more organised rivals, some think Mr Araújo may not last long. Yet even if he does not, he has made his mark. For the first time since the early 1970s during the cold war, Brazilians have been offered an extreme right-wing foreign policy, notes Matias Spektor, an international-relations specialist at Fundação Getulio Vargas, a university. Even if modulated, bits of it are likely to be applied by Mr Bolsonaro. It is a long way from Rio Branco, and is unlikely to do much for Brazil’s soft power.

This article appeared in the The Americas section of the print edition under the headline"Open or closed?"

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Slate, Nova Iorque – 11.10.2019
Brazil’s New Foreign Minister Almost Makes Trumpism Sound Like a Real Ideology
Joshua Keating

So this was odd: The foreign minister for Brazil’s controversial new president, Jair Bolsonaro, just laid out his foreign policy vision to Americans in an op-ed that was largely a critique of … Ludwig Wittgenstein.
Ernesto Araújo’s piece, when it wasn’t a close reading of the early-20th-century Austro-English philosopher’s views on subjectivity, suggested that the Bolsonaro administration would transform Brazilian foreign policy primarily by “talking about freedom and democracy, and by taking those concepts seriously,” and by taking actions to “promote freedom of thought and freedom of expression around the world.” The op-ed was published via Bloomberg shortly after U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo met with Araújo in Brasilia. Pompeo then told reporters that the two countries “have an opportunity to work alongside each other against authoritarian regimes,” singling out Venezuela, Cuba, and Nicaragua.
Talk of freedom and democracy has always sounded odd from Trump administration officials, given the president’s fondness for authoritarian rulers. It may be even stranger from a Bolsonaro government official, not only because of the new president’s attacks on the mediaand minority groups, but also because of his praise for his own country’s authoritarian past. Bolsonaro has described the military dictatorship that ruled Brazil from the mid-1960s to the mid-1980s as a “very good” period that “stopped Brazil [from] falling under the sway of the Soviet Union.” He told supporters during his campaign, “We want a Brazil that is similar to the one we had 40, 50 years ago” and has praised one of the old regime’s main torture chiefs.
In previous writings on his blog, Araújo has stated that his goal is to “help Brazil and the world liberate themselves from globalist ideology.” This ideology, as he sees it, manifests itself in everything from feminism to gay rights and from vegetarianism to climate science, which he has denounced as a plot by “cultural Marxists” to weaken the West and help China. This is the supposedly Wittgensteinian “globalist totalitarian ideology” he vowed to take on in his Bloomberg essay. His targets are not only authoritarian leftist governments but also societies in the West “where thought is indirectly and insidiously controlled by the media and academia.”
Araújo is, unsurprisingly, a big fan of Trump. In a widely publicized article last year, which likely led Bolsonaro to promote him from a midlevel diplomat, he praised the U.S. president for, as Reuters summarized, “saving western Christian civilization from radical Islam and ‘globalist cultural Marxism’ by standing up for national identity, family values and the Christian faith.”
Likewise, Trump officials are probably big fans of Araújo and his boss. While Trump’s foreign policy is often thought of as amoral and purely transactional, it’s far more ideological when it comes to Latin America. Trump was fairly ambivalent about the region during his campaign—and even mildly supported Barack Obama’s opening to Cuba—but his administration has taken a hard line on Cuba and Venezuela and let ideologues like Sen. Marco Rubio take the lead on setting policy. (Trump’s main guidance to his national security council regarding Latin America was, reportedly, “make Rubio happy.”) The Trump administration has been mostly unengaged on Latin America, and his anti-immigrant rhetoric and threats to invade Venezuela have alienated regional governments even further. But in Bolsonaro and Araújo, the administration and congressional cold warriors will have enthusiastic allies in an ideological struggle against the region’s leftist governments.
The Trump administration has, at times, been willing to employ the language of democracy promotion elsewhere, as well. Pompeo, for instance, has justified U.S. sanctions against Iran in the name of freeing Iranians from the “hard grip of repression.”
Araújo cheers on Trump loyalists’ attacks on “globalism” as a Cold War–like struggle necessitating sacrifice and compromise—including, at times, partnering with very undemocratic but pro-American governments. (I say Trump loyalists because it’s unclear how much the president himself actually cares about any of this stuff.)
While you won’t hear a Trump administration official refer to “avant-la-lettre postmodern deconstruction of the human subject,” Araújo’s rhetoric could provide an ideological framework for a U.S. foreign policy vision that otherwise seems purely transactional

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World Politics Review, Cambridge, Mass. – 10.1.2019
Bolsonaro Could Realize His Critics’ Worst Fears—and His Supporters’ High Hopes
Frida Ghitis

The new year marked the beginning of a new era for Latin America’s largest country. Jair Bolsonaro, the far-right winner of Brazil’s presidential election, assumed office amid a remarkable swirl of contrasting expectations. While the former army captain’s incendiary declarations during the election campaign last fall sparked fears among millions of Brazilians and others abroad, a less noticed phenomenon took shape in the weeks leading up to his inauguration on Jan. 1: Brazilians, by large majorities, are optimistic about his tenure.
In two surveys last month, Brazilian pollsters found that a stunning 75 percent of respondents approved of Bolsonaro, and two-thirds expected the new administration to bring about a turnaround in Brazil’s economic fortunes. That is notable, and a bit of a head-scratcher, considering that for years the most popular politician in the country has been former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, a leftist leader who made his name as a union organizer and a campaigner for social justice, essentially embracing policies that Bolsonaro diametrically opposes.
The optimism of the majority, however, does not conceal the alarm around Bolsonaro’s rise. During the campaign, he railed against minorities and women and spoke approvingly of Brazil’s past military dictatorship, and dismissively of environmental concerns. At his inauguration, he vowed to “restore and rebuild our homeland, liberating it from corruption, economic irresponsibility and ideological traps,” a sign of the new administration’s ideological goals.
One week into the Bolsonaro era, the evidence is already mounting that at least some of the fears were well founded. Within hours of taking office, Bolsonaro issued a presidential decree granting the Agriculture Ministry responsibility for determining which parts of the Amazon should be protected for indigenous groups. The ministry is heavily influenced by big agribusiness, whose financial interests clash with indigenous groups hoping to hold on to their territories in the Amazon. Indigenous leaders said the new order would lead to more deforestation and violence against their people, a longstanding problem. The move was just as alarming to environmental leaders, who now foresee a potential disaster for the Amazon basin, where the rainforests produce more than 20 percent of the world’s oxygen and rivers contain a similar proportion of the planet’s fresh water. 
The new foreign minister, Ernesto Araujo, has already described climate change as a conspiracy by “cultural Marxism.” Environmental activists were horrified by Bolsonaro’s initial steps, which they said could prove catastrophic for the environment. It is clear that in the contest between environmental protections and business interests, the new administration is already tilting drastically in favor of business.
For LGBT leaders, who cringed at Bolsonaro’s assertions that he’d prefer to see one of his children die in a car crash than tell him he’s gay, more bad news was also immediately forthcoming. Bolsonaro, who says he opposes “gender ideology” and accuses his predecessors of promoting homosexuality, has built his core support among Brazil’s growing evangelical Christians, who generally oppose any acceptance of LGBT rights and equality.
In a first-day gesture to his base, the new president renamed what used to be Brazil’s Human Rights Ministry, branding it the Ministry of Women, Family and Human Rights and removing any mention of gay protections in its mandate. The ministry also removed indigenous peoples as a protected category. To lead the ministry, Bolsonaro named Damares Alves, an evangelical pastor.
Perhaps the most resonant message came in Bolsonaro’s decision to eliminate Brazil’s Ministry of Labor, a key institution during the 14 years of Workers’ Party rule. The ministry’s duties are being distributed among other entities. 
If Brazilians are open to reversing so many of the policies that they embraced in previous administrations, it is because conditions have deteriorated so sharply.
For liberal activists, the bad news keeps coming. Bolsonaro signed an executive order that could create enormous problems for nongovernmental organizations, giving the executive branch much tighter control over NGOs operating in Brazil. In addition, Bolsonaro has vowed to relax restrictions on gun ownership, shut down the agency responsible for diversity in the Education Ministry, and loosen all manner of labor regulations. 
On foreign policy, Bolsonaro sent shockwaves through the region when he suggested he might allow the U.S. to build a permanent base in Brazil in order to counterbalance growing Russian influence in Venezuela. The idea, confirmed by the foreign minister, was said to be very poorly received by Brazil’s military leaders.
Still, Brazilians so far are enthusiastic about their new leader. If they are open to reversing so many of the policies that they embraced in previous administrations, it is because conditions have deteriorated so sharply. Brazil has been in the throes of one of the worst corruption scandals anywhere, while it is still barely recovering from a devastating economic depression and street violence has spiraled out of control. 
Brazilians simply want life to get better. The question is whether Bolsonaro’s policies will achieve that. From the moment he won the election, euphoric markets have bet that he will succeed in restoring economic growth, or at least corporate profits. Brazil’s main stock index, Bovespa, was one of the world’s top performers in recent months, solely on optimism about Bolsonaro’s presidency. The index has reached record highs.
Confidence in the future is bolstered by the president’s choice to lead his economic team, Paulo Guedes, a free market champion who studied at the University of Chicago. And optimism about the prospects for rolling back crime and corruption is bolstered by Bolsonaro’s choice of justice minister, Sergio Moro, the now iconic judge who led the massive corruption cases known as Operation Car Wash.
But the Cabinet also includes many military officers, a troubling shift in a country where many still remember the worst years of military dictatorship. His vice president is a retired general. For now, it seems clear that the new administration will move quickly to satisfy the demands of social conservatives. On the economy, the direction is definitely rightward, with environmental concerns set aside in favor of business and development.
There is little doubt that the incoming team will engage in the privatization of state assets and loosening of regulations. But a more elaborate economic policy remains a work in progress, subject to approval by a Congress whose consent is far from assured.
For Brazilians who once seemed to embrace a leftist worldview, the bottom line will be how Bolsonaro’s policies impact their standard of living. The new president could, in fact, realize both the worst fears of his critics and the high hopes of his supporters.

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Americas Quarterly, Washington DC – 10.1.2019
Jair Bolsonaro’s Guru
Olavo de Carvalho might be the most important voice in the new Brazilian administration. And he doesn’t even live there
Brian Winter

The intellectual guru to Brazil’s next president lives at the end of a country road in Virginia, in a modest house with duct tape covering a crack in the front window, an American flag on the porch and a huge English mastiff named “Big Mac” standing guard.
And that’s not even the most surprising part of Olavo de Carvalho’s story.
Despite not having lived in Brazil since 2005, and liberally sprinkling his columns and speeches with references to little-known 19th century philosophers, the pipe-smoking 71-year-old has built a fervent social media following of more than 500,000 people - among them President-elect Jair Bolsonaro, who prominently displayed Carvalho’s book The Minimum You Need to Know to Not Be an Idiot on his desk during his election night victory speech in October.
Carvalho’s championing of individual liberties and Christianity, and his combative, obscenity-laced vilification of globalism, Islam, communists and the left in general, recalls a Brazilian Sean Hannity or Steve Bannon, with a bit of the Marlboro Man mixed in. Such ideas were completely out of the mainstream in Brazil just six months ago - but novelty is precisely the core of his (and Bolsonaro’s) appeal in a country still reeling from its worst recession in a century and a series of scandals that left the previous political establishment in ruins.    
The day I visited him in November, Carvalho was riding high. Bolsonaro had just named as his foreign minister Ernesto Araújo, a career diplomat whom Carvalho by all accounts single-handedly plucked from relative obscurity and recommended for the job. Araújo had on his personal blog called climate change a Marxist conspiracy and complained about the supposed “criminalization” of heterosexual intercourse, oil and red meat. “I started reading (the blog) and I said - ‘This guy is a genius! He has to be foreign minister!'” Carvalho enthused. “He understands the risk from globalism is real … he’s a Christian, and he’ll do the best he can.”
He wasn’t shy about his influence on Bolsonaro, despite the fact the two have never met in person. “Look, I think the person he listens to most is me,” he said. That struck me as an exaggeration, but a few days later, Bolsonaro would name another Carvalho pick as education minister - leaving two portfolios critical to Brazil’s future in the hands of his disciples.
During an interview that lasted almost three hours, Carvalho was charming and solicitous, despite a reputation for lashing out at journalists who challenge him, as I repeatedly did. He invited me to join him in a glass of Grand Muriel orange liqueur (I accepted, even though it was 1:30 p.m. on a Monday). He proudly showed me his collection of rifles and detailed his love for the United States, especially “rednecks,” whom he called “the best people in the world.”
In our conversation, Carvalho also justified state-sponsored mass murder in Brazil during the last dictatorship, though he later said he meant this "ironically." He explained why he believes George Soros, Facebook and China are all part of a globalist conspiracy, compared Bolsonaro to George Washington (“They didn’t know something was impossible, so they just went and did it”) and marveled at his own fame. “This has never happened in the history of the world - a writer who had this kind of influence on the people,” he chuckled. “It could only happen in Brazil.”

From communist to conservative

Throughout his career, Carvalho has been a professional astrologer, a newspaper columnist, a teacher of philosophy and… a communist militant in the 1960s.
By the late 1990s, he had embraced a mix of economic liberalism and conservative social mores familiar to anyone who has ever watched Fox News. But such ideas were utterly foreign in Brazil, which had been governed mostly by the left and center-left since the last military dictatorship ended in 1985.  
“There was no conservative opposition to speak of at the time. Carvalho invented it,” said Gerald Brant, a Brazilian hedge fund executive who is close to the Bolsonaro family. In terms of influence, he compared Carvalho to William F. Buckley Jr., the premier U.S. conservative intellectual of the late 20th century.
I began my interview with Carvalho by asking him to explain his intellectual evolution, half-expecting to hear names like Buckley or Ronald Reagan. But instead, he embarked on a long monologue about the “death of high culture” in Brazil beginning in the 1960s, which he blamed mostly on the left and particularly the Workers’ Party of Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, who was president from 2003 to 2010.   
Indeed, Carvalho’s popularity may be derived less from what he supports, and more from what he opposes.Even at the peak of the left’s power in the late 2000s, when Brazil’s economy was booming and Lula enjoyed approval ratings near 90 percent, Carvalho never stopped his attacks on “cultural Marxism” and Brazil’s ever-expanding state, which he saw as a threat to individual freedoms. “I was criticizing people who had never been criticized - untouchables, gods. Lula was a god. And he was the most ridiculous of all,” he said.
He also criticized feminism, called Barack Obama’s birth certificate a fake, and lashed out at what he deemed the Workers’ Party’s excessive coddling of the LGBT community. “I don’t believe it would have been better if my father, instead of depositing his sperm in my mother’s womb, had injected it into the rectal passage of his neighbor, from where the liquid in question would have gone into the toilet at the first opportunity,” he wrote in a 2007 newspaper column included in one of his “best of” books.
Such messages were restricted to a fervent circle of believers - until the economy began its spectacular collapse. When anti-government protests broke out in several cities in 2013, many people carried posters saying “Olavo was right.” As the country imploded further, with the eruption of the “Car Wash” scandal, the impeachment of Dilma Rousseff and, finally, Lula’s imprisonment on corruption charges in April, Carvalho began to be treated as a kind of oracle - the only person who saw the apocalypse coming.
The book Bolsonaro featured on election night has sold more than 350,000 copies - a truly gargantuan sum in Brazil. But Carvalho’s fame also stems from his YouTube channel, where he sits at his desk, smokes his pipe and simply talks. I watched several hours, and was struck by the inclusive, often soothing tone: Carvalho makes his listeners feel like they’re sharing an intimate secret as he ruminates on philosophers from Plato to Eric Voegelin to Antonio Gramsci.
His wife Roxane, who came in and out during our interview, was one of his students in the 1980s. “I started listening, and I thought - ‘Wow, this exists! I’m able to understand!'” she recalled. Carvalho nodded in satisfaction, adding: “People don’t know they’re intelligent, that they can understand the reality, until you show this to them. It’s like starting a fire.”

A clear influence on policy

Within Brazilian conservative circles, there is debate over how much pull Carvalho really has - or should have - within the next government. Even some admirers distance themselves from what they call Carvalho’s "excesses," and say his ideas are tempered by more pragmatic figures, especially the retired generals Bolsonaro has appointed to his cabinet.
But the influence is undeniable. As a relatively recent convert to ideas like small government, Bolsonaro seems to depend heavily on Carvalho’s ideas for guidance, as well as a degree of legitimacy with his base. His son Eduardo, a congressman, is the closest member of the family to Carvalho - the two communicate often - and has echoed many of the guru’s messages almost word for word.
For his part, Carvalho expressed a nuanced view of the president-elect. Like many Brazilians, the first thing he liked was his reputation for not being corrupt. “Even if he has a shit government, he won’t steal. That struck me as a sufficient virtue,” Carvalho said. He acknowledged Bolsonaro “doesn’t speak well” and “doesn’t have a single economic idea in his head,” but said he appreciated his tough stance on crime. Only a “true war” on drug gangs, he said, could fix a country with more than 63,000 homicides a year.
When I pointed out that shoot-first security policies have rarely produced lasting positive results in Latin America, Carvalho cited several false or highly dubious claims. He said “thousands and thousands of Islamic agents are coming in through the Amazon,” and blamed the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) for being a main source of illegal arms in Brazil (the FARC signed a peace deal in 2016). He also said many Cuban doctors working under a special program in Brazil were secret agents conspiring with local drug gangs and the landless workers’ movement.
“They’re all forming an army,” Carvalho said. “Do you think these people can be conquered through social policies?”
For foreign investment, Carvalho said Brazil should favor the United States, “because it’s a Christian people, a benevolent people.” “They could potentially steal, but they won’t steal much, eh?” he said. By contrast, he said the Chinese “always have a strategic agenda,” and that with Beijing’s aid, “communists are penetrating Latin America today with incredible force.” He also warned of an “Islamic plan for world domination,” adding “they’ve been globalists for 14 centuries.”
All of these ideas clash with long-held principles of Brazilian foreign policy, which is traditionally skeptical of Washington and cultivates ties with the developing world. But in the weeks after my visit, there were signs Carvalho’s agenda was gaining traction. Bolsonaro took steps to force the Cuban doctors to leave Brazil, and move Brazil’s Israeli embassy to Jerusalem. A policy paper leaked in which Araújo, the new foreign minister, proposed an “alliance of the three biggest Christian nations: Brazil, the U.S. and Russia.” And during a visit to Washington on behalf of his father, Eduardo Bolsonaro donned a “Trump 2020” hat and pledged to “support policies to stop Iran.”

Turning back the clock

As our interview drew to a close, I shared my biggest concern about Bolsonaro: that his government could trample democratic institutions and cause the deaths of numerous innocent people. I cited Bolsonaro’s frequent lament that the “biggest error” of Brazil’s 1964-85 dictatorship had been “to torture (people) instead of killing them.”  
Carvalho chuckled. “You know, sometimes I think that way.”
“Oh, Olavo, please,” I said.
He took a puff from his pipe. “We see all the misery those guys created. Look - how many communists were there in Brazil back then? 20,000? You kill 20,000 people back then, and you’d have saved 70,000 Brazilians a year.”
The implication was that, by eliminating leftists in the 1960s, Brazil might have been governed by more virtuous people who would have never allowed murder rates to reach their current level. (After this story was published, Carvalho said on his Facebook page this was intended as an "ironic declaration," and that he was not "an apologist for state genocide.") We argued about this for a few minutes until I said that as an American who loves Brazil, I didn’t want to see its government engaged in mass murder.
“The Americans are idealistic people with good hearts,” he replied. “They believe other peoples are the same. Well, let me tell you something: Outside of (this country), there are just filhos de puta.”
I must have looked upset, because Carvalho shifted his focus and said Bolsonaro would only depart from a democratic path “if he’s very poorly advised.” Instead, he said he would encourage Bolsonaro to “take one problem at a time,” focus on combating crime during his first year, delegate in areas like the economy that he doesn’t really understand, and tell people: “It’s been 70 years of mistakes, and I can’t fix everything in one day.”
“I think Bolsonaro has enough humility to be a great statesman,” he concluded. And then, with a courteous smile, he showed me out the door, and back into the Virginia woods.
This story has been updated to include Carvalho's statement, made after this story was published, that his comment about state-sponsored murder was meant "ironically."

Brian Winter is editor-in-chief of Americas Quarterly magazine and the vice president for policy at Americas Society/Council of the Americas. A best-selling author and columnist, Brian is a leading expert on Latin America and a frequent speaker for international media and events.

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Les Echos, Paris – 11.1.2019
Le Brésil à l'heure de la Bolso-démocratie
Thiery Ogier

Le leader de l'extrême droite brésilienne vient de s'installer au palais du Planalto. Il promet un mélange de libéralisme économique et de retour aux valeurs morales conservatrices. Ses réflexes autoritaires risquent de nuire à la réussite de son projet.
Le Brésil a trouvé son nouveau messie. Ceux qui en doutaient encore en ont eu le coeur net quand ils ont vu se presser des hordes de  partisans de Jair Messias Bolsonaro sur l'Esplanade des ministères lors de son investiture comme président à Brasilia, le 1er janvier dernier. Les plus exaltés s'époumonaient pour mieux saluer le « mito » (mythe) à gorge déployée, pendant que leur leader leur promettait que « notre drapeau ne sera jamais rouge ». « S'il le faut, garantit le capitaine de réserve, nous verserons notre sang pour qu'il reste vert et jaune ! »
Humiliés par une avalanche de scandales de corruption et encore mal remis d'une profonde récession, une majorité de Brésiliens ont adhéré au projet de Bolsonaro, parfois séduits par sa rhétorique enflammée, lorsqu'il prétend que « le peuple s'est libéré du socialisme et du gigantisme étatique » ou lorsqu'il dénonce « les ordures marxistes » qui pollueraient, selon lui, le secteur de l'éducation du pays. Solution : promouvoir une discipline militaire dans l'enseignement, soutient-il.

Garde à vous !

Le Bolsonarisme , c'est avant tout l'aspiration à une remise en ordre, voire une remise au pas. Une volonté de retrouver la fierté d'être brésilien (un sentiment battu en brèche par les méga-scandales de corruption... et les défaites successives en Coupe du monde de football). Un Brésil, « géant par nature » comme le clame l'hymne national. Un Brésil qui renoue également avec des valeurs morales traditionnelles, celles de la famille, des « bonnes moeurs », pour « remettre le Brésil sur le bon chemin », affirmait une Carioca venue assister à l'investiture.
Cette nouvelle « majorité morale » à la brésilienne se réjouit des premières déclarations d'intention du président, qui a exalté « la tradition judéo-chrétienne » et le respect à la propriété privée. Elle accorde aussi sa confiance à l'ancien capitaine pour faire régner la loi et l'ordre, dans un pays qui a enregistré 63.000 homicides l'an dernier. Jair Bolsonaro est partisan de la manière forte : il estime que les forces de l'ordre doivent avoir le droit de tirer les premiers dans le feu de l'action, prône ouvertement la légitime défense et s'engage à flexibiliser le port d'armes. La mesure sera prise par décret, assure-t-il, ce qui lui permettra de faire l'économie de longs débats au Congrès sur cette question polémique.

« Intégrer les Indiens »

Jair Bolsonaro montre ainsi sa prédilection pour les méthodes expéditives. Le président vient aussi de renforcer les pouvoirs du ministère de l'Agriculture sur la gestion des forêts en lui attribuant le pouvoir de délimiter le territoire réservé aux Indiens, notamment en Amazonie (une fonction jusqu'ici rattachée au ministère des Droits de l'homme).
Car, pour Jair Bolsonaro, un « bon » Indien est un Indien avec un smartphone 4G. Il l'a clamé sur Twitter en début d'année : « Plus de 15 % du territoire national sont actuellement réservés aux Indiens ou aux descendants d'esclaves. Moins d'un demi-million de personnes vivent dans ces régions isolées du Brésil réel, exploitées et manipulées par des ONG. Ensemble, promet le président, nous allons intégrer ces citoyens et valoriser tous ces Brésiliens ». En autorisant au passage les activités minières dans ces réserves, qui, selon lui, regorgent de métaux rares.

Schémas idéologiques

En matière de politique étrangère, Jair Bolsonaro a vite choisi son camp. Celui de Trump et de Netanyahu. Avec l'éventuelle installation d'une base américaine en territoire brésilien, et la reconnaissance officielle de Jérusalem comme capitale d'Israël. La Chine ? Il l'a d'abord soupçonnée de « vouloir acheter le Brésil », avant que son propre vice-président, le général Mourão, lui rappelle que la deuxième économie mondiale est déjà son premier partenaire commercial, et donc, incontournable.
C'est là toute la question : au-delà des coups de gueule de Jair Bolsonaro et de ses sbires contre l'Accord de Paris sur le réchauffement climatique et contre le Pacte des migrations - qui vient officiellement d'être dénoncé -,  la Bolso-diplomatie va-t-elle s'enfermer dans des schémas idéologiques ou épouser un certain pragmatisme ? A cet égard, la question israélienne aura valeur de test. Jair Bolsonaro est favorable au transfert de l'ambassade du Brésil de Tel-Aviv à Jérusalem, comme le lui demande Israël avec insistance, mais l'entourage du président redoute d'éventuelles représailles du monde arabe, grand consommateur de viande brésilienne.
Last but not least, Jair Bolsonaro s'est engagé à mettre un terme à « l'irresponsabilité économique » qui a creusé les déficits au cours des dernières années. Pour cela, il a confié à un ex-« Chicago boy », Paulo Guedes, le soin d'administrer au pays une potion ultralibérale. Le nouveau ministre de l'Economie promet un retour durable à la croissance grâce à des réformes structurelles et une réduction drastique de la taille de l'Etat. La réforme des retraites, encore elle, constituera un premier test.

L'antithèse du bolivarisme

L'Amérique latine a récemment connu le bolivarisme, avec le Vénézuélien Hugo Chávez. Le Brésil entre désormais dans l'ère du Bolsonarisme, un ancien capitaine ayant conquis dans les urnes son titre de président de la République et de commandant en chef des armées. 
La tentative de créer « un socialisme du XXIe siècle » dans le pays voisin a tourné au cauchemar et a provoqué l'exode de plusieurs millions de réfugiés vénézuéliens. L'arrivée de Bolsonaro au pouvoir soulève beaucoup d'espoirs chez le géant latino-américain, y compris au sein des milieux d'affaires. Mais pour « protéger et insuffler une nouvelle vigueur à la démocratie brésilienne [...] en respectant l'Etat de droit », comme il l'a promis, le capitaine de réserve devra modérer ses instincts impulsifs. Selon une thèse très en vogue à Brasilia, la demi-douzaine de hauts gradés qu'il a nommés au gouvernement (dont trois généraux et un amiral) pourraient y contribuer.

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