Brazil-France relations have a long history, but it has not always been “smooth”. In almost half a century, several episodes had tensions rising, the most troublesome being the last diplomatic incident – known as the Lobster War (1963).
In this past month, French President Emmanuel Macron has once again “jabbed” Brazil, and in a very unfortunate way. Because of the Amazon fires, whose statistics are not yet “pacified” and properly adjusted to what really matters, Macron suggested, with his phrase “our house is burning…”, raising the issue at the G7 meeting. Mincing with words aside, a blatant intrusion into our sovereignty – an ages-old idea of defining an international status for the Amazon. The effect could not have been more immediate: President Bolsonaro, in his best non-diplomatic style, responded right away.
The episode is likely to quickly dissipate, but Bolsonaro insists on a recant by the French president. Obviously this a flashing subject for the international press, and may have some economic impact for Brazil. However, given the global economic predicament, it is unlikely that this agenda will gain relevance as compared to other problems around the world. In any case, apart from the back and forth, in the face of an unwarranted provocation, Bolsonaro is quite correct in demanding retraction.
The long history between the countries does not allow for rising tensions, not even our companies and huge chain of trade would yield to such shameless and misleading a statement (possibly for political ends). It will only be a matter of time before the real diplomats know how to bring order to this mess.
Indeed, this “crisis” has gained ground for a number of reasons, including the environmental “fever” (with no disparage) that strikes the world, Macron’s internal political situation with sectors that could take advantage of any consequences of this “crisis” and, not least, the “new normal” that is spreading around the world, in which the current Brazilian government is inserted. Thus, although the quote in the epigraph is attributed to Gal. de Gaulle, it seems unlikely that he actually mentioned it, because albeit a difficult person (strong background and temperament), he was very polite. Admittedly, Macron, also polite and intelligent, will recant from his statement, otherwise the subject of the above sentence will be reversed.