THE HEMISPHERE RISES
the creation of the 12-member Union of South American Nations (UNASUR), which includes the whole continent from Colombia to Argentina.
contributed to the European Union’s decision to make
Brazil a strategic partner and to the establishment of a
dialogue with the U. S. to work together on global issues.
The basis of UNASUR is a series of economic and trade
agreements, but it also has a strong political component.
That political role proved to be of central importance
during recent crises, both internal (Bolivia, Ecuador) and
between countries (Colombia-Venezuela). But our “
diplomatic activism”—in the best sense of the word—was
not restricted to South America. At the Sauipe Summit
in Bahia, all the Latin American and Caribbean nations
convened to discuss cooperation plans aiming at greater
development and political understanding across the region.
Analysts and government officials from several countries, including the U. S., have noted Brazil’s arrival as a
global player—though only time and other factors, including subjective ones, will confirm the permanence of
our newfound status. Most of the comments have been
positive. But one notices a natural ambivalence from
some, especially in the United States. If Brazil continues on its current path, it will be the first time that another country in the Americas becomes a global player.
In broader terms, in the first
years of the administration, we
strengthened—and in some
partnerships with China, India, Russia, and South Africa. As
a result, we created new channels of cooperation among developing nations, such as the
IBSA Dialogue Forum—a mechanism for cooperation and political consultation involving
India, Brazil and South Africa.
Another channel was the establishment of a summit process involving Arab countries
and South America and, separately, African countries and
To be sure, in terms of “hard
power” Brazil cannot compete
with the United States. This
is obviously true in military
terms, where the supremacy of
the U. S. is undeniable. Furthermore, in economic terms, the
differences between the GDPs
of the U.S. and Brazil remain
large. In other spheres, too, the
gap is considerable.
South America. On the economic front, our designation as
a member of the BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India,
and China) has become an essential reference point for
us, while it has given our four nations a new economic
and political status. Another group of emerging nations,
BASIC (Brazil, South Africa, India, and China), has also
played a leading role in the international negotiations
on climate, with our support and encouragement. Relations with other nations with growing influence in
their regions, including Turkey, have brought new and
somewhat unexpected opportunities for political action.
Nevertheless, Brazil’s presence has been felt on a number of issues and in various
regions. In May 2010, working
with Turkey, we drafted the
Tehran Declaration, in which
the Iranian government committed to abide by the objectives originally proposed by the
U. S. and its allies and accepted
by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). This was no small achievement and
was applauded by, among others, Mohammed El-Bara-dei, the former IAEA chief. The commitment by Iran
to remove 1,200 kg of low-enriched uranium to a third
country ( Turkey) within one month (before Iran would
receive the corresponding amount of fuel), even if it was
considered insufficient by some, demonstrated our potential influence in promoting a peaceful and negotiated approach to the international deadlock.
Our work with countries across the global South has
helped to strengthen the perception of Brazil as a nation whose interests and influence go beyond its own
region. This, in addition to our growing strength in the
areas of trade, economics and the environment, has
The sanctions against Iran agreed to one month later
in the UN Security Council effectively quashed the possible benefits of the agreement in the short run. But it
is my firm belief that our approach remains valid, as
implicitly recognized in some of the statements of the
so-called P5+1 (the five permanent members of the Se-
Americas Quarterly SPRING 2011