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Monday, February 07, 2011

Wikileaks: Brazil illustrates how to sacrifice principles for the Arabs

This 2009 Wikileaks cable discusses why Brazil, a country with a culture that is very much against restrictions on free speech, consistently abstains from any UN resolutions that are against "defamation of religion" - i.e., Islamic attempts to stifle free speech.

Embassy has raised the issue of Brazil's voting record on "defamation of religions" several times in the Department of Human Rights and Social Affairs (DDS), Ministry of External Relations (MRE). The last time was with DDS Chief (A/S level) Minister Glaucia Gauch. Brazil has not disagreed with a single argument in our previous demarches and non-papers. The response has been always the same: the concept of "defamation of religions" is repugnant to Brazilian values and principles, and it is inconsistent with Brazilian law and international law. For those reasons, Brazil cannot and will not support a resolution that purports to punish the "defamation of religions"; instead, Brazil consistently abstains.

When asked why Brazil does not vote against a resolution it finds totally objectionable, Gauch responded that it was enough to abstain. In the GOB's view, Brazil is taking a principled but practical position on the issue, not desiring to offend OIC countries, in particular powerful ones like Iran, Egypt, Turkey, and Saudi Arabia with which Brazil is attempting to deepen relations. Moreover, obtaining a permanent seat on the UNSC remains Brazil's overriding foreign policy goal. As a result, the GOB prefers to avoid antagonizing countries and groups of countries whose votes might be valuable in a future election.

In a similar vein, an earlier set of memos detail the Arab-South America Summit held in 2005 in Brazil, which turned into a farce as radical Arabs hijacked the session to put out outrageously anti-Israel and anti-American statements, leaving the major reasons for the summit (economic cooperation) in the dust.

By the time of Cast Lead, Brazil had already cast its lot with the radical Arabs.
The Brazilian government heavily criticized Israel's actions against HAMAS in Gaza, after originally suggesting it might take a more nuanced approached with its initial statements. President Lula, backed by most Brazilian media outlets, harshly criticized both Israel and the United States, and, while stressing that HAMAS bore some responsibility, minimized the group's actions. ...

According to Minister Rodrigo Amaral de Souza, chief of staff to Undersecretary for Political Affairs for Africa, Asia and the Middle East Ambassador Roberto Jaguaribe, Brazil's statements are motivated by three objectives: to reestablish the ceasefire, to allow for humanitarian assistance to go into Gaza, and get the parties back to the peace table following the process laid out at the Annapolis conference. Asked whether Brazil recognized the incongruence of asking Israel to halt its actions and return to the status quo ante knowing that HAMAS did not abide by the ceasefire in the first place, Amaral sheepishly recognized that Brazil understood Israel faced a difficult situation, but Brazil was primarily concerned that Israel's actions were threatening the progress of Annapolis and would create an irreversible momentum in a direction away from peace. Amaral also added that because Brazil has no relationship with HAMAS, it rarely addresses its actions officially.
Brazil's ambitions to become an important world player and to strengthen economic ties with Arab countries can be seen to clearly influence its actions - which it then justifies in terms of human rights.

Not that Brazil is alone in doing this, but the Wikileaks cables show its hypocrisy in stark terms.