Bolsonaro’s statements reflect party polarization in Latin America

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BRASILIA – According to experts, diplomatic problems between Brazil and Argentina reflect a moment of polarization in Latin America as a whole.

The speeches of President Jair Bolsonaro and his son Eduardo against the family of the elected president of Argentina and in favor of the opposition candidate for the presidency of Uruguay led the foreign ministries of the two neighboring countries to speak out.

Even Lacalle Pou, who received the “Bolsonaro cheer”, made clear his discomfort. How does the president’s statements about domestic affairs of neighboring countries affect relations with those countries? Could the tone used in the Bolsonaro election campaign and replicated in foreign relations have consequences for Brazilian diplomacy?

Unsustainable

Creomar de Souza, Professor of International Relations and Political Consultant, highlighted Bolsonaro’s internal political support component to explain the position of the Brazilian representative.

“For President Bolsonaro and his political core, it is important to maintain a constant electoral campaign climate. To keep the militancy attentive and warm in terms of ideological debate,” he explained.

As the elections in Brazil are far away, it would be natural to revert this energy to the neighbors. On the other hand, the expert adds that the Brazilian government ends up offering weapons to the Argentine president-elect, who will use Bolsonaro’s speech to heat the bonfire of his own militancy.

“This climate of animosity, if prolonged, can have serious consequences. There are cases when siblings fight at home, but eventually they can break up relationships.” So in the long run, if animosity warms up the situation can become unsustainable.

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Strategic Partnership

According to Maurício Santoro, political scientist, professor of international relations at the State University of Rio de Janeiro (UERJ), Bolsonaro’s statements were very serious and even hurt the Constitution, which “prohibits Brazil’s intervention in the internal affairs of other countries.”

In other words, presidents should not interfere in elections, especially in such important neighboring countries.

“Argentina is the country’s third largest trading partner, behind only China and the United States, and Brazil’s main destination for industrial exports. Any kind of political and economic conflict with Argentina has very negative consequences for the Brazilian economy,” he warned.

Thus Bolsonaro’s criticism of Peronism, and the response of Argentine politicians, is very worrying. For the professor of UERJ, this kind of attitude is not common in the bilateral relationship between nations, which always considered their partnership as strategic.

The professor pointed out that the president, however, has been trying to adopt more pragmatic positions.

“This has happened in recent months both with regard to China, where he has just returned from a successful trip there, and with the Arab countries, which the president has sought to approach, understanding the importance of this market for Brazilian agribusiness.”

Thus the position of the Brazilian head of state reflects a situation that has been expanding in the region.

“Latin America is experiencing a moment of partisan polarization, which has severely hampered regional integration. It is retreating in virtually all areas and has made it impossible to reach consensus to deal with serious situations facing the region, such as Venezuela and the difficulty of resume economic growth,” he concluded.

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