Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff on Thursday accepted the resignation of Defense Minister Nelson Jobim, following a series of derogatory statements made to the press in recent weeks. Shortly thereafter Former Minister of Foreign Relations (1993–1995, 2003–2011) and Americas Quarterly contributor Celso Amorim was selected as Jobim’s replacement and he officially took office yesterday. In the Spring 2011 issue of AQ, Minister Amorim reflects on Brazil’s global rise in the first article written after leaving his post as foreign minister.
The controversy surrounding Jobim had been growing for several weeks. He was widely reported to have recently referred to his colleagues in the Rousseff administration as “idiots” and news surfaced in July that Jobim had claimed publicly that he voted for President Rousseff’s rival, José Serra, in the October 2010 elections. In his most recent comments Jobim was quoted as saying that Minister of Institutional Relations Ideli Salvatti “lacked power,” and that cabinet chief Gleisi Hoffmann "doesn't even know" Brasilia. Jobim issued a statement yesterday denying the quotes.
Jobim is the third minister to resign since Rousseff took office in January. In June, cabinet chief Antonio Palocci resigned over corruption charges and Transportation Minister Alfredo Nascimento quit in July over alleged irregularities in the awarding of contracts within the ministry.
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In an exclusive feature in the Spring 2011 issue of Americas Quarterly, released today, former Brazilian Foreign Minister Celso Amorim vigorously upholds Brazil’s foreign policy during ex-President Lula’s administration. In his article, Amorim argues that Brazilian diplomacy during Lula’s presidency, from 2003-2011, was “working to promote South American solidarity and integration,” with an end goal of eventually transforming the continent into a true “Peace Zone.”
Amorim outlines that Brazil under Lula took steps to assert South America’s autonomy from its more developed northern neighbors. For example, Brazil opposed the Free Trade Area of the Americas as proposed by the United States at the 2003 Summit of the Americas in Miami since Brazil believed that this negotiating process was unbalanced in favor of the richer American nations. Amorim also says that during a World Trade Organization ministerial meeting in Cancún, also in 2003, Brazil spearheaded an effort with other developing countries to block what he argues was a “protectionist treaty.”
Nonetheless, with Brazil having emerged as one of the strongest diplomatic voices in recent years, Amorim contends that Brazil and the United States can enter this new global era together as partners. “Brazil and the U.S. will have more to gain from dialogue than confrontation,” Amorim says, adding that “Brazil’s increasing resourcefulness and independence will benefit the United States.”
In addition to Amorim’s exclusive, the Spring 2011 AQ—titled “The New Brazil and the Changing Hemisphere”—contains feature articles written by U.S. Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis, Banco Itaú President Roberto Setubal, and Indian Ambassador to Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay R. Viswanathan.
Brazilian Foreign Minister Celso Amorim on Saturday in Geneva announced that Argentina is on track in 2010 to become Brazil’s largest trade partner behind China, replacing the United States in second position. The announcement was shared at the eighth annual International Institute for Strategic Studies meeting.
Bilateral trade between the two Mercosur-member countries is projected to reach up to $34 billion by the end of this year. This comes despite trade relations between Argentina and Brazil being strained at times. Brazil has periodically been accused of using unfair non-tariff policies to favor its import-competing industries. Addressing the need for improved bilateral trade relations with Argentina, Amorim recently called for “a leap forward in [liberating] the services and investment sectors.”
Amorim will continue trade discussions during his European tour and will meet with Pascal Lamy, director general for the World Trade Organization.