Reflections on Brazil’s Global Rise

Celso Amorim – America’s Quarterly, Spring Issue

Photo: LatinContent/Getty Images.

This is the first article I have written since leaving the foreign ministry of Brazil. As someone who was very active in formulating foreign policy during what might be called “the Lula era” (and still without the benefit of much hindsight), it is an opportunity to begin taking stock of what has been achieved so far. The most remarkable fact about Brazilian foreign policy in recent years has been Brazil’s new and more prominent stance in the international arena. To be sure, this qualitative change, which resulted in The Economist describing Brazil as “a diplomatic giant,” is not solely—or even principally—due to foreign policy.

In recent years, Brazil has grown economically while keeping inflation under control, improved income distribution and, above all, strengthened its democracy. Who could have predicted after years of military dictatorship, immediately followed by the impeachment of the country’s first popularly-elected president, that Brazil’s next three heads of state would be an intellectual who fought against the dictatorship, a labor leader routinely labeled as a dangerous revolutionary, and now a woman who once was a political prisoner?

These changes have had a major impact on Brazil’s stance toward other countries and also on how other countries view Brazil. As I said in a recent interview, Brazilian foreign policy may not have created the wave, but it learned how to ride it. It should come as no surprise that international interest in Brazilian foreign policy has increased notably in recent years, culminating with the 2010 elections.

*Celso Amorim was Brazil’s Foreign Minister from 1993-1995 and again from 2003-2011.

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