Senate President seeks to calm ambassadors ahead of UN General Assembly

senate Rodrigo Pacheco speaking before the Foreign Affairs Committee. Photo: Edilson Rodrigues/SF/CC-BY 4.0
Rodrigo Pacheco speaking before the Foreign Affairs Committee. Photo: Edilson Rodrigues/SF/CC-BY 4.0

During an unusual appearance at the Senate’s Foreign Affairs Committee, Senate President Rodrigo Pacheco reiterated Congress’s commitment to democracy and environmental protection. The committee debated the role of the New Development Bank — commonly known as the BRICS Bank — in fostering investments in Brazil.

To an audience of ambassadors, state governors, government officials, and business leaders, Mr. Pacheco ensured that the “2022 elections will take place.” One week earlier, President Jair Bolsonaro threatened to ignore Supreme Court rulings and questioned the legitimacy of Brazil’s voting system (statements from which he has backpedaled). Mr. Bolsonaro will give the opening address at the UN General Assembly next week.

“Our democracy is very young, there is no doubt about that. And like all youths, it makes mistakes. But democracy in Brazil is non-negotiable and will not end,” Mr. Pacheco said. According to the Senate president, the harmony between the branches of government enjoyed a “better week” after President Bolsonaro toned down his anti-democratic antics.

However, Congress and the Foreign Affairs Ministry know that international observers are not ready to blindly trust that the president has had a change of heart.

Catering his words to his audience, Mr. Pacheco added that Congress “has an absolute commitment with preserving the environment, combating deforestation, complying with [environmental] law, and reducing emissions.”

President Jair Bolsonaro’s lackadaisical approach to environmental regulations — and his willingness to push back against criticism — has transformed Brazil into a sort of international bogeyman and has been an obstacle to trade deals, such as the one between Mercosur and the European Union.

Signed two years ago, the agreement has yet to be ratified. European nations with strong agricultural lobbies have used Mr. Bolsonaro’s environmental debacle as a legitimate reason to freeze the deal, an argument handed on a silver platter by the Brazilian government.