Tensions Arise as Brazil Rehearses Rapprochement with Venezuela

Relations between the governments of Brazil and Venezuela are practically null. President Jair Bolsonaro, in fact, repeatedly uses the neighboring country as a scarecrow to warn of the “danger” posed by the left in the event that it comes to power, but something appears to be changing in recent times.

Brazilian Foreign Minister, Carlos Franca, hinted at this a few days ago during a hearing at the Senate: “At a time when the US is analyzing an exception to the embargo [blockade] on Venezuelan oil exports [as a result of the conflict in Ukraine ] It really seems to me that we can think about reevaluating this issue of the diplomatic relationship,” he said.

Franca, however, assured that it would be “very important” for the government of Nicolás Maduro to show signs in favor of freedom of the press, the release of political prisoners and free elections, thus repeating the same old script designed by Washington in its failed coup attempt against President Maduro.

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“If at some point that is possible, we can start by reestablishing consular relations, but I have doubts that this is possible,” he added with an air of mistrust. However, the simple fact of publicly proposing a hypothetical change of position towards Venezuela already supposes a notable turn in Brazil’s foreign policy.

The pressure rises
Diplomatic relations between Caracas and Brasilia were broken as soon as Bolsonaro came to power, in January 2019, and at that time Brazil, a close ally of then President Donald Trump, led the regional offensive to overthrow Maduro and recognize Juan Guaidó as Venezuelan president.

The pressure on the government to change its position comes above all from its allies in the so-called “centrao,” made up of parties leaning more towards the center-right and normally with a more pragmatic and less ideological vision of politics.

The Brazilian foreign minister acknowledged that requests for bilateral relations to be restored are multiplying, both in the allied base and in the opposition. “It is an issue that concerns us and that is the subject of daily reflection,” he said to the Senate.

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In statements made to the newspaper O Globo, Senator Chico Rodrigues, from the border state of Roraima (northern Brazil), stated that the Brazilian government is already considering the possibility of at least reopening a consulate, to serve the almost 25,000 Brazilians who live in Venezuela: “The rupture of relations makes trade difficult, personal issues, it makes a lot of things difficult,” he said.

The risk of Venezuela in the campaign
Despite the timid gestures behind the scenes, the climate is one of extreme caution, because Venezuela is a “hot potato” that nobody wants to hold in their hands; neither Bolsonaro and his allies nor former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, who for now is the favorite for the presidential elections in October.

For Bolsonaro, it would be very difficult to explain to his constituents the need to open a bridge of dialogue with Maduro after spending years attacking him and using Venezuela as an example of all the evils that the left can cause in a country. This despite the recent evidence showing that the smear campaign against Venezuela, carried by the extreme right, to attack leftist presidential candidates in the region is not bearing fruits.

For Lula, the fact that Venezuela might enter the public debate of the electoral campaign could also be dangerous, because he would again be questioned about his party’s “permissiveness” with respect to the alleged human rights violations in leftist Latin America. Everything indicates that, for now, the threads will be moving discreetly, as we wait for the October elections.

 

Featured image: Venezuelan and Brazilian flags at a border point between Venezuela and Brazil in La Linea, near Santa Elena de Uairen, Bolivar state. Photo: AP/Eraldo Peres.

(Mundo Sputnik)  with Orinoco Tribune content

Translation: Orinoco Tribune

OT/JRE/KW

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