Brazil retreats from its South-South cooperation policy by closing five of its embassies in the Caribbean.
Brazil confirmed the closure Wednesday of five Caribbean embassies to include those in Dominica, Antigua and Barbuda, Grenada, St. Kitts and Nevis, and St. Vincent and the Grenadines. The Brazilian Foreign Ministry is also considering more embassy closures in two African countries.
Brazil’s Foreign Minister Ernesto Araujo made the official confirmation Wednesday through a press release to the media. His stated justification for the closures was based on “adjusting foreign policy needs to the realities of our resources, both human and financial.”
According to the Itamaraty, the name for the headquarters of the foreign ministry, the closures “will not diminish bilateral relations,” assuring that Brazil’s interests “will be covered by other diplomatic missions in the region that are already prepared or can be optimized to take over new duties.”
These closures represent a departure from the policies backed by former President Luis Inacio Lula da Silva and his Workers Party, which opened at least 67 embassies in countries throughout the Global South in a bid to enhance political and economic ties with Brazil and as part of a larger strategy of South-South cooperation.
Despite the insistence that the move is related to costs and available personnel, Brazil's former Foreign Minister, Celso Amorim, told a local media outlet that “the costs of those embassies is minimal. This just shows a lack of interest.”
Araujo was appointed as head of Brazil’s Foreign Ministry by President Jair Bolsonaro in November 2018. His appointment came as a surprise since the relatively young top diplomat was low on the foreign service hierarchy.
Some media reports have speculated that Araujo’s appointment was made in part thanks to a pro-Trump essay he wrote back in 2017 which praised U.S. President Donald Trump, lambasted the United Nations and globalism, and advocated for a Trump-Brazil alliance.
Two other embassies are being assessed for possible closure, both in Africa. Brazil’s Liberian embassy in the capital of Monrovia and Sierra Leone’s embassy in Freetown. Another embassy in Africa, that of Libya, is technically active, but has no staff appointed to it.