After the fall of Ernesto Araújo, who left the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Monday (29), the name of Luís Fernando Serra, Brazilian ambassador to France, began to circulate as one of Jair Bolsonaro’s options to assume the responsible portfolio. the country’s foreign policy.
Supported by the president’s sons, Serra is already singled out by Brazilian parliamentarians as a possible “equal or worse” substitute than Ernesto. Among the criticisms of his position is the fact that he, like the former chancellor, could also end up revealing himself to be a member of the ideological wing of the Bolsonaro government.
In nearly 50 years of career, Serra, 71, has worked in diplomatic posts in countries such as Chile, Tunisia, Russia and Germany. He has also served as Ambassador to Ghana, Singapore and South Korea.
It was in Seoul, in February 2018, in fact, that Serra would have been grateful to the Bolsonaro family when he received the then pre-candidate for the presidency of Brazil during a series of country visits. Asian.
According to four Brazilian diplomats interviewed by Folha on condition of anonymity, Eduardo, Bolsonaro’s 03-son, who accompanied his father on the pre-election tour, came to regard Serra as a reliable name.
A little over a year later, after Bolsonaro’s election, Serra was appointed by the president to take over the Brazilian embassy in Paris. At the time, he was already cited to command the Itamaraty, but the post was given to Ernesto. Sabatinado by the Senate External Relations Committee, Serra was approved by the House plenary with 62 votes in favor, 1 against and 2 abstentions.
Once in Paris, Serra was at odds with other ambassadors in Europe and his own earlier career, more prone to trade diplomacy, publicly defending the Bolsonaro government and attacking the political enemies of Bolonarianism – particularly the former president Lula and the PT.
The attitude, described by a colleague as an act of “washing dirty clothes outside the house”, is unusual among experienced diplomats. According to reports, the posture can be read as the ideological stance of an ambassador, but “if he replaces Ernesto it won’t just be trading six for half a dozen.”
Diplomats also say that at the helm of Itamaraty, Serra should not be expected to be an obstacle to containing the foreign policy of the president and his son. 03 The bottom line, however, is that, at least for the moment, he prefers not to the post in Paris and would be looking for alternatives in Europe for the end of his stint at the diplomatic post in the French capital.
In August 2019, shortly after taking the embassy in Paris, Serra found himself in the midst of an escalation of rhetoric that evolved into a diplomatic crisis between Bolsonaro and French President Emmanuel Macron.
Criticizing the Brazilian leader’s environmental management due to the large number of fires in the Amazon that year, the French official accused the Brazilian of lying by making commitments on environmental policy at the G20 summit which took place two months earlier.
Bolsonaro responded by accusing Macron of trying to escalate hatred against Brazil and endorsed the offensive comments against French First Lady Brigitte Macron, hinting that criticism of the French president is said to be motivated by envy of Michele Bolsonaro.
In an interview with Folha, Serra said “there were excesses on both sides” and argued that the two countries should turn the page and maintain their strategic partnership. The ambassador, however, echoed Bolsonaro’s speech that European countries, particularly France, have vested interests in the Amazon, and not a legitimate environmental concern. “You may suspect that there is a hidden agenda when you see 300 NGOs in the Amazon and zero in the Northeast. Either one: either there is a hidden agenda or a prejudice against the Northeast. Choose one. -in one, ”Serra said.
The figures cited by the ambassador, however, were incorrect. At the time, the Ipea survey counted more than 205,000 NGOs in the Northeast, while the states that make up the Brazilian Amazon totaled around 106,000 NGOs. Like the president, Serra also repeated accusations that the press was more focused on creating room for criticism than it had been in previous governments.
“I have to say something very important: in 2005, the same thing happened, in fact, worse. You can go to the archives to see, but the president was Lula, a darling of the press, so no one came out to spread what was going on in the forest. Nobody said it was Lula’s fault, ”the ambassador said in an interview with France 24 television channel in 2019.
Serra has also been embroiled in controversies over Marielle Franco, a murdered counselor in Rio de Janeiro, whose death reverberated around the world. In February last year, French Senator Laurence Cohen of the Communist Party and Congressman Christine Pirès of the Socialist Party sent a letter to the Brazilian Embassy in Paris asking for clarification on the murder of the advisor, who remains unresolved for over 1,100 days later. .
In response, the ambassador expressed “deep indignation at similar treatment in different cases” in Brazil, in particular the murder of Celso Daniel, then mayor of Santo André, in 2002, and the stabbing that Bolsonaro received. targeted in 2018. “I remind you that those responsible for the attempted assassination of Jair Bolsonaro, during his electoral campaign, have also not been identified, even though the perpetrator was arrested and placed in a psychiatric facility. This act is, in my opinion, as serious as the other political crimes mentioned here, “Serra wrote.
The same year, the ambassador canceled his participation in an event in Paris after being informed that Mayor Anne Hidalgo would pay tribute to Marielle Franco.
In another notorious case, Serra sent a letter to French newspaper Le Monde to respond to an editorial that accused Bolsonaro of ignoring the severity of the coronavirus pandemic. “There is no doubt that there is something rotten in the Kingdom of Brazil, where President Jair Bolsonaro can safely say that the coronavirus is a ‘gripezinha’ or a ‘hysteria’ born out of ‘the imagination “of the press,” the publication said.
In defending the president, the ambassador said the content of the editorial was “deeply offensive” and that Bolsonaro’s actions showed that, since the onset of the health crisis, his intention was “to prevent hysteria and the panic to dominate the population ”. A few days later, the building of the Brazilian Embassy in Paris was the target of an artistic intervention with black flags, crosses and the phrase “so what?” dictated by Bolsonaro when asked about the growing number of deaths from Covid-19 in Brazil.
Besides Serra, two other names are cited as favorites to replace Ernesto: the Brazilian Consul General in New York, Maria Farani Azevêdo, and the Secretary of Strategic Affairs, Admiral Flavio Rocha. The army, although not a career servant of Itamaraty, speaks five languages and is known for its moderate profile. Farani, on the other hand, has the support of members of Congress aligned with Bolsonaro, but faces resistance in the ideological core for having served as chief of staff to former minister Celso Amorim in the PT government.
In the past few hours, palace advisers have sent messages with images of Farani alongside left-wing politicians and remember that before taking office as president, Bolsonaro even said in an interview that he didn’t had no intention of naming her.