Despite being one of the world’s largest economies, Brazil never had much of a role at the global diplomatic top table. Though not for lack of trying. For decades, Brazil has lobbied for a permanent seat on the United Nations’ Security Council, as has tried to act as a mediator in Middle-Eastern affairs—to uneven rates of success. In 2014, for instance, Brazil criticized Israel’s “disproportionate use of force in Gaza” and was called a “diplomatic dwarf” in return.
In South America, however, Brazil’s sheer size and importance always guaranteed the country an important stake in regional affairs. And, at least in theory, Brazil had everything to maximize its protagonism in 2019. Argentina is facing yet another financial crisis and a polarized election; in Colombia, the Farc has taken up arms again; Peru’s political system is in disarray; the Paraguayan president faces mounting opposition, and Venezuela has collapsed into the worst humanitarian crisis in the Western world.