At the 1st EFMD Americas in Sao Paulo, Ambassador Marcos Azambuja gave an amusing and insightful talk about the current state of Brazil. He talked about the political and economic context of the country, its strengths and also its weaknesses and the challenges it faces.
“What exactly is Latin America? Who really considers themselves to be Latin American?” asked Ambassador Azambua.
He pointed out that the expression was invented by the French during their fight with Maxmillius. However, most natives of the continent do not consider themselves to be Latin America.
“I prefer to speak of South, Central and North American because these are more precise geographical regions.”
“I will talk about Latin America with the caveat that I don’t really know what I am talking about.” He joked.
He also pointed out the difficulty of trying to run a country like Brazil.
“We are so diverse that we fit almost everywhere.” He said. “Wherever I go, I always feel at home.”
He pointed out to the audience that they had come to Brazil at a delicate moment because it is an election year. All the forecasts say that the incumbent president will win but the country is declining rapidly and this is not a foregone conclusion.
The Ambassador spoke of his feeling of discomfort or malaise in the current climate. “There is too much corruption and too much debt.” This includes even the good things such as building new stadiums that have been surrounded by scandals. “People are unhappy with the grandiosity and the expense of the events.”
According to the Ambassador, Brazil suffers from what Alain Greenspan called “irrational exuberance.” Brazilians are addicted to hope.” He said. You can admire their optimism but there is often a large gap between intentions and actions.
However, it has reason to be happy about some things. Brazil has finally stabilized its democracy. This is a good sign. Human rights have improved in the country and this is also a good sign. The southern hemisphere is free of weapons of mass destruction. This has been a major achievement. Brazil has improved its relationship with the environment. Before there was the idea that it was others telling them what to do. Now they have accepted that it is their own problem.
The country has though missed some opportunities to do many good things during the good times. “This is a pity.” He said.
Like the French who proclaim their “exception française” Brazilians also have the idea that there are things that apply to the rest of the world, but not to them.
Corruption still needs to be improved and has to move further on education and training. “We are still not competitive enough in the area.” He said.
“Perhaps I am being overcritical” he summised. However, there is a need for this because Brazilians are so optimistic they need to hear the bad things.
“We have to be more critical of our heritage if we want to improve the country. “
Brazil is a joiner. It is a natural multinational player that has borders with 10 countries.
“Brazil is a minor global player with a finger in every pie.” He added.
We are now not yet a member of the inner circle of international power. For every viable candidate there are three or four countries that want to block applications for Permanent Membership of the Security Council. Brazil is naturally independent which makes it difficult to gets allies to support its application.
“Brazil is like Canada with a trumpeter. We are a noisy Canada.” He joked.
A country must do the politics of its geography, he added quoting Napoleon. Brazil needs to face this reality. There is no real leader for South America and this makes it difficult for the continent to have a strong voice.
Brazil seeks no territorial claims said the Ambassador. It is not an ideological country and has no ideas to sell. It is not a religious country. So, by and large, it likes to cooperate.
“We know we are not big enough to do it alone, but we also know we are too small to follow.” We try to curb our ambitions and it is currently where it should be in the international scene.
Having good friends and neighbours is a matter of survival. However, the country has been too friendly with certain dubious powers, he concluded.
Ambassador Marcos Azambuja
Marcos Azambuja ( Rio de Janeiro , February 9, 1935 ) is a Brazilian diplomat and theologian. He was Head of the Delegation of Brazil for Disarmament Affairs and Human Rights in Geneva (1989-1990) , Secretary – General of the Foreign Ministry (1990-1992) , Coordinator of the Rio 92 Conference , having served in the same year the embassy of Argentina (1992 -1997) and then France ( 1997-2003) .
Book author and active speaker on topics relating to international relations in the fields of disarmament , sustainable development , regional integration , human rights , political and Antarctic espacial.Vice president of the Brazilian Center for International Relations – Brazilian CEBRI , Member of Historical and Geographical Institute , the Board of Trustees of the Botanical Garden of Rio de Janeiro , IPHAN Member of Council , the Review Group International Context , University of São Paulo and several other academic and business entities .