01Young diplomats in the communications and documentation department
02A bridge connecting the palace and main annex
03Security guard outside Celso Amorim’s office
04Adriana Telles Ribeiro who works in the undersecretariat for Brazilian communities abroad
05Room used for press conferences, with headphone sockets for simultaneous translation
06Main façade. The marble sculpture, ‘Meteoro’ (1966-67), is by Bruno Giorgi
07Antonio Augusto Martins Cesar who works on the Africa desk
08Spanish class at the Rio Branco Institute
09Library at the ministry
10Communications department director Hélio Vitor Ramos Filho. He has spent 30 years in the service with postings to Rome, Lima, Washington and Lisbon
11Roberto Moreira: the ministry’s in-house barber for that diplomat’s look
12In the main annex each floor has wall panels in a different colour. The security guard does not always match the decor
13Aletha Pennati Migita who works in protocol and has to explain to visiting dignitaries about the help-yourself state lunches
14Rio de Janeiro room for formal events. Chairs by Bernardo Figueiredo were inspired by the palace’s architecture
15Garden by Burle Marx with bronze sculpture ‘Three Ladies’ (1939) by Lasar Segall
17Canteen. Staff get a two-hour lunch break so many head to nearby malls for food
18Entrance to the grand reception hall
19Gilberto Fonseca-Guimarães de Moura who works with the BRIC nations. Former postings include: East Berlin, Ottawa, La Paz, Paris, Warsaw and Berlin (post-unification)
Look who’s here
As part of Brazil’s expanding diplomatic reach, in 2005 North Korea opened its embassy in Brasília.
It’s hard to know how the Brazilian diplomat who got the call in 2009 to go to Pyongyang felt but his North Korean counterpart must surely have done a jig on the spot. The embassy in Brasília is a glowing white house that could have been designed for a Malibu beach. Tucked away in a quiet residential street, it has a double garage and a garden planted with palm trees. And neighbours can stop by and inspect a glass cabinet displaying pictures of the North Korean leader Kim Jong-il carrying out in-depth factory inspections.
But it’s not just the North Koreans who have come to town under Lula. Also new on the Brasília diplomatic block are Mauritania, Qatar, Tanzania, Albania, Burkina Faso, Nepal, East Timor and Slovenia. In total, almost 40 embassies have opened in the Brazilian capital under Lula’s period of diplomatic wooing.
How to be a Brazilian diplomat
Brasília’s Rio Branco Institute is run by the Itamaraty Palace and trains all of Brazil’s diplomats. There are currently 1,400 around the world, up from 1,000 when Lula came to power in 2002. And instead of turning out 25 diplomats a year as it did back then, the institute now produces over 100. Founded in 1945, the institute is named after the Baron of Rio Branco, recognised as the founder of Brazilian diplomacy. Georges Lamazière, the director general and a former ambassador to Denmark, says that the growth of the school is a reflection of “the intensification of our international role and more active foreign policy and our expansion in Africa where we are more present than before”.
Niemeyer’s Itamaraty Palace
The ministry is in fact three buildings, linked by walkways.
The internal and surrounding gardens were designed by Burle Marx, the same man who landscaped much of Rio de Janeiro.
The palace is home to one of the largest art collections in Brazil. The most famous sculpture is ‘Meteoro’, carved from a block of Carrera marble, and represents the interlocking continents.
The ministry has its own barbers as well as a small news kiosk and canteens. Itamaraty is still largely decorated as it was when it first opened. Equally old-school is the modest level of security.
Lula a go-go
The president has become used to buckling up for some shuttle diplomacy. Here’s where he’s been since January 2009.
Arroyo Concepción, Bolivia
Viña del Mar, Chile
Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago
San José, Costa Rica
Tripoli and Sirte
Rome and L’Aquila, Italy
Chimoré and Cochabamba, Bolivia
Isla Margarita, Venezuela
Lisbon and Estoril