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.

2009:
Arroyo Concepción, Bolivia
Maracaibo, Venezuela
Washington
New York
Viña del Mar, Chile
Doha
Paris
London
Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago
Buenos Aires
Riyadh
Beijing
Istanbul
Ankara
San Salvador
Guatemala City
San José, Costa Rica
Geneva
Yekaterinburg
Astana
Tripoli and Sirte
Paris
Rome and L’Aquila, Italy
Asunción
Quito
Chimoré and Cochabamba, Bolivia
Bariloche, Argentina
New York
Pittsburgh
Isla Margarita, Venezuela
Copenhagen
Brussels
Stockholm
Caracas
London
Paris
Rome
Lisbon and Estoril
Kiev
Berlin
Hamburg
Montevideo
Lima
Copenhagen

2010
Cancún
Havana
Port-au-Prince
San Salvador
Montevideo
Santiago
Jerusalem
Bethlehem
Ramallah
Amman

Monocle 24

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