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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 16 December 2018

Pro-Trump diplomat to become Brazil's foreign minister

Analysts say Ernesto Araujo positions resemble Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte

Brazilian President-elect Jair Bolsonaro and his newly appointed Foreign Minister, Brazilian diplomat Ernesto Araujo. AFP
Brazilian President-elect Jair Bolsonaro and his newly appointed Foreign Minister, Brazilian diplomat Ernesto Araujo. AFP

President-elect Jair Bolsonaro announced that he is naming an admirer of US President Donald Trump to be Brazil's foreign minister in the new administration.

Mr Bolsonaro, a far-right politician who takes office on January 1, went on Twitter on Wednesday to announce the choice of diplomat Ernesto Araujo.

Mr Araujo now heads the foreign ministry's department for United States, Canada and Inter-American affairs. He is anti-left and a self-proclaimed nationalist, and he campaigned for Mr Bolsonaro, who was elected October 28.

"The Brazilian foreign policy must be a part of the moment of recovery that Brazil lives today," the president-elect said about his appointee.

Mr Araujo has praised President Trump's approach to foreign relations, saying the US leader proposes a view of the West that is based on the recovery of its symbolic past. The Brazilian diplomat also believes globalism is an anti-Christian ideology.

Mr Bolsonaro, a former army captain and longtime congressman, has on several occasions compared himself to Mr Trump, although many analysts say his tough anti-crime and pro-gun positions resemble more those of Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte.

Some diplomats were surprised with Mr Araujo's appointment because he has never been in charge of an embassy during his 29-year diplomatic service.

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Mr Bolsonaro's aggressive rhetoric has already caused tensions with Egypt and Cuba, issues that Mr Araujo will deal with once in office.

The Arab nation cancelled a trip of Brazilian lawmakers this year after the president-elect promised to move the Brazilian Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Mr Bolsonaro later said the decision was not taken.

Cuba announced earlier on Wednesday that it was ending a programme that sent almost 9,000 medics to Brazil, acting after Mr Bolsonaro said the programme could continue only under new conditions. Among other things, he said the doctors must receive their salaries directly from Brazil and not through the Cuban government and be allowed to bring their families with them during their assignments.

Mr Bolsonaro will also be starting his administration with some friction with China, which has invested billions of dollars in energy, infrastructure and oil projects in Brazil. During the campaign, he complained: "The Chinese are not buying in Brazil. They are buying Brazil itself."

In a recent editorial in the China Daily newspaper, the Chinese government warned Mr Bolsonaro against aggressive statements aimed at China, saying they could cause troubles for Brazil. Soon afterward Mr Bolsonaro was visited by China's ambassador to Brasilia.