Brazil’s Foreign Minister Ernesto Araujo resigned on Monday, two sources said, amid growing criticism of the combative China hawk’s failure to guarantee additional vaccine supplies from Beijing and Washington. A loyal ally of President Jair Bolsonaro, Araujo represents an ideological wing of the right-wing populist administration whose attacks against China, environmentalists and the left were increasingly seen as noisy distractions from tackling Brazil’s raging pandemic.
Brazil’s foreign ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The departure of a loyalist like Araujo is a blow to Bolsonaro, but part of a broader move by the embattled president to address the pandemic more seriously and slow a record-breaking second wave that is pushing hospitals to the brink.
In recent days, Araujo irked senior lawmakers who had become increasingly vocal in calling for him to be replaced. They were angered by his longstanding criticism of top trade partner China, a vaccine-producing superpower. The diplomat’s esteem for former U.S. President Donald Trump was also seen as an obstacle in persuading the Biden administration to free up supplies of U.S. vaccine for Brazil.
Luís Fernando Serra, Brazil’s ambassador to France, Senator Fernando Collor de Mello and Flávio Rocha, a retired admiral who advises Bolsonaro, are all in the running to replace Araujo, sources said. Araujo’s exit was first reported by Brazilian newspaper O Globo. The source who confirmed it requested anonymity as the information is not yet public.