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tv   HAR Dtalk  BBC News  December 16, 2021 12:30am-1:01am GMT

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this is bbc news. we'll have the headlines and all the main news stories for you at the top of the hour as newsday continues straight after hardtalk. welcome to hardtalk, i'm stephen sackur. the covid pandemic has cost millions of lives and put governments around the world under intense scrutiny from their own citizens. nowhere more so than brazil, where the death toll has topped 600,000 and the president still refuses to be vaccinated. well, my guest, ernesto araujo,
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was president bolsonaro's foreign minister until earlier this year. he stands accused of complicity in the government's failure to procure sufficient vaccines and of putting ideology before public health. is that fair? ernesto araujo, in connecticut, welcome to hardtalk. thank you very much, stephen. great to be here. it's a pleasure to have you on the show. it's about, well, roughly nine months since you resigned as foreign minister of brazil. that's given you a little
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bit of time to reflect, and with that reflection, do you now acknowledge that covid—19 and the handling of the pandemic has been a disaster for the bolsonaro government? no, not at all. what happened has been the weaponisation of covid and everything that came with it by all the forces that are against president bolsonaro's regional project of basically ending the kleptocracy, the system that has run brazil for a long time. so, those people want to keep the system, want to keep stealing, want to keep their network of bribes and corruption, and they used covid all along in order to weaken president bolsonaro's government and, to a large extent, they managed. today, the corrupt system is much stronger than it was at
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the beginning of the pandemic, and it has to do with the change in foreign policy that president bolsonaro undertook after i left under the pressure of that corrupt system. it's a strange way of looking at what has happened in brazil as a result of the pandemic, to accuse the opponents of mr bolsonaro of weaponising the pandemic. i mean, the pandemic, for brazilians, is a real fact. it has killed more than 600,000 people. millions and millions have been infected — and, famously, yourformer boss, mr bolsonaro, dismissed it as nothing more than the sniffles. and to this very day, he refuses to get a vaccination. it suggests to many brazilians that, from start to finish, he has completely failed to prioritise protecting his own people. that's not true. there are many questions there. first, most of the...
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almost all the authority in practice for dealing with the pandemic was transferred from the federal government to the state governments by decisions of the supreme court in brazil, which today acts as a de facto head of state in brazil. everything goes to the supreme court, and they decide everything. and what the federal government did was to put together a huge system or huge mechanisms of helping the states, transferring money to the states, in order for them to open up more places in hospitals and things like that. and also, we had probably one of the largest, if not the largest mechanisms put in place in the world for helping the people whose livelihood was totally affected by the pandemic. but if i may interject... yeah. ..just with a few facts.. yeah. again, mr bolsonaro is the president. he is the leader
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of your country. he has, from the beginning of this, he's pushed fake science, he's put his faith in drugs that clearly do not work. even to this very day, he is peddling misinformation. the supreme court now wants to investigate his recent claim that covid vaccines can increase the risk of contracting aids and make people more vulnerable to hiv aids. again, i put it to you that the president, from the beginning, has denied the science, he has failed, utterly failed to protect the people of your country. it's not true. that's not true. there are many premises that are wrong there. one of them is that there is no treatment for covid and that the science says so... no, well, clearly there is a treatment, there is one way of ensuring or at least doing your very best to ensure you do not get seriously ill with covid, and that's to take the various covid vaccines.
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mr bolsonaro, again from the very beginning, has denied the efficacy of those vaccines and, as the leader of your country, has signally, consistently refused to take the vaccine. the vaccines have been developed very quickly, as you know, without the opportunity for the tracking of long—term effects. so, it's natural that people have the right to take or not to take the vaccines. by the way, the figures that science shows us from many places in the world don't seem to necessarily confirm that vaccine is the way to do it. if you compare brazil to south africa, for example. south africa has a very low vaccination rate, and the behaviour of the curve of covid infection and death is similar to brazil. brazil, i mean... one thing is the word you can call denialists or anything, but the question, the reality is that most of brazilians have been vaccinated. almost everyone who wants
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to be vaccinated has been vaccinated in brazil. the question is, should people be forced to undergo, which is in fact an experimental vaccination because those vaccines have not been tested for the long run? i believe this is an issue for many countries in the world nowadays. so, the treatment with ivermectin, for example, has been demonised by the press, the press who replaces the scientists today. it's the press or the media that say, "well, you're a scientist if you say that ivermectin does not work, and you're not a scientist if you say that ivermectin works." there are lots of scientists that say that it does work. so, why is that their denial of science around the world? many of the contentions you've just made are absolutely not the scientific consensus, indeed quite the reverse. but i'm just wondering whether the reason you are denying the culpability of mr bolsonaro is because it also gets to the culpability of yourself. you will know that the
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parliamentary committee investigating the government's response has recommended charges, very serious charges, against mr bolsonaro, but has also recommended charges against you. they want you indicted, and i'm looking here formally at the wording, they want you indicted for your "strategic errors in conducting diplomacy, which hindered relations with china and had a material impact on the import of necessary supplies". they also cited your part in an institutional disinformation campaign which worsened the pandemic. are you ready to face those charges? because they're absolutely not true. this parliamentary commission was a sham. this is also a political instrument that wanted just to weaken president bolsonaro. they didn't find any material evidence for anything that they say
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because that's not true. it's basically a rhetorical device. well, forgive me, but they claim that there is clear evidence that the stance you took toward china, in particular labelling the coronavirus the "communavirus" with a particular emphasis on your notion that it was part of some sort of communist conspiracy to ensure that big global governance was imposed on brazil, that, they say, led to china going slow on supplying vaccinations and ingredients for vaccination to brazil. it's not true. that's not true. when i left office, we had already a vaccination available, basically at the same rate as european countries that had started vaccination earlier and who did not depend on china, chinese supplies. back in late march, if i'm not mistaken, brazil was around 9% of population already vaccinated.
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european countries had basically 10 or i2%. so... and we had much higher vaccination rates than most developing countries. so, it's not true... but hang on, i want you to deal with the specifics, cos the specifics are important. i mean, did you think it was clever or wise to label it the communavirus? yeah. why did i label it the communavirus? i bet you didn't read the article that i titled that way. i showed the book that was published by a communist marxist author, slavoj zizek, saying that covid was great for communism because together with the virus, the coronavirus, an ideological virus would take place and which would transform societies in the way that communists want, and he says, "oh, you want to look at communism in the present and in the future?" right.
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"look at the who decisions, for example," so he clearly associates the globalist takeover that comes with the coronavirus. ah. so, just to be clear, then... i didn't talk about any plan. i thought perhaps it was an unfair portrayal to see you as somebody who saw the who as part of a sort of globalist communist enterprise, but maybe you do. is that what you really think? it's what marxists and communists tend to think. i do think that... excuse me, if i'm not wrong, karl marx was not involved in the creation of the who. no. i'm really struggling to understand what you're even talking about. i'm talking about it because marxist authors today, very influential marxist authors, talk about who and other multilateral institutions as an instrument to create what they consider to be the communism of the 21st century. the fact is, mr araujo, as we know, in the outside world, brazilians have suffered terribly at the hands of covid.
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i've talked about the official figure of 617,000 dead, but the economist magazine has looked at mortality figures in brazil and reckons the real figure is probably over 700,000. i have seen the video reports from particularly some of the indigenous communities in the amazon region of brazil, where people have felt utterly abandoned in the face ofa raging pandemic and have felt the government simply gave up on them, did not care about their fate. do you feel any sense of shame that you were part of that government for more than two years? not at all. the government did a good job in facing the covid. as i told you, the big problem that came with covid was the destruction of livelihoods, the destruction of the economies, which was not something that the government undertook on the country or undertook to face that. we provided vaccination for people. we, i mean, tried to go towards treatment that
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seemed to be available, but back then, for some reason, again, treatment for covid, cheap and available treatment for covid was demonised in brazil and elsewhere, which is a denial of science, manipulation of science. so, no, i'm very proud of having taken part in the government. right. we tried to do... in two years, we tried to change a corrupt system in brazil, and that system raised against the government and used covid as a means to stay in power, and they're, unfortunately, they are succeeding it. and they are succeeding it, in part, because of media narrative as the one you are reproducing now. hmm. well, it's not a question of my opinion or my thought, i'mjust, i'm looking at the impact your running of the foreign ministry and mr bolsonaro's running of the presidency has had on brazilians. i'm looking, for example, that the response of 300 of your own colleagues.
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now, these aren't kleptocrats or corrupt brazilians who are worth millions of dollars, but these are 300 of your colleagues inside the foreign ministry who signed an open letter denouncing you, their boss, in march 2021, talking about the serious harm that you were doing to brazil's interests, demolishing brazil's international reputation, putting brazilian lives at risk, vandalising relations with china and the us during this terrible pandemic. that was the judgment of your own colleagues in your own ministry. yes. well, first of all, i don't know if there were three or 3000 because they're anonymous, and they say there are 300, but they were not brave enough to put their names under that sort of garbage. this is all nonsense that they were saying there. and, yes, unfortunately, a big part of the brazilian diplomatic institutions, i mean, the brazilian foreign ministry, very traditional institutions, along the decades has become very cosy
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with the kleptocracy. they have become a kind of an instrument of enforcing and strengthening the alliances, the international alliances of that kleptocracy, which one of which is... of them is china, another is the multilateralism ideology, multilateralist ideology that is around the world today. so, yes, it's natural that some people or many people there feel uneasy with a foreign policy that was based on the interests of the brazilian people. the interest is of transforming brazilfrom a kleptocracy into a democracy with the right international connections. they have not pointed any... what... ? ..any concrete example to substantiate what they say. well, i wonder if... it's just rhetoric, it's just rhetoric. let's move on from covid, cos,
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of course, we'lljust have to wait and see whether you personally everface charges in brazilfor what you did during the pandemic. that's yet to be seen, but let's move on to another aspect of your foreign policy strategy when you were foreign minister and let's judge again whether it was really in the interests of brazil. you were somebody who regarded climate change as part of a "plot by cultural marxists". you said that the dogma of acting on climate change has been used to justify increasing regulatory power of states over the economy and giving more power to international institutions. you clearly advised the president not to engage with, for example, international commitments to end deforestation. since you've left office, actually, at cop26, brazil did sign up to a commitment to end deforestation and begin reforestation. so, maybe your ideology has had its day. no, no, no.
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what you said is true, the climate change negotiations are used, are manipulated in order to create some sort of global control over the economy. now it's a pretext to control energy supply, to control food supply, all the inflation that we're seeing around the world, the energy crisis that is looming is because of totally irrational energy policies derived from climate alarmism. i don't deny that you have to study the question of climate change, but it's clear that lots of interests a re involved. so, ijust want to be clear, are you saying that when you were running the foreign ministry and, of course, involved in developing brazil's international strategy on climate change, you and mr bolsonaro, throughout your discussions with him, you were both of a mind that brazil should do nothing to engage with the international effort to decarbonise and to curb greenhouse gas emissions? no. last year, at the end of last year, together with the then
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environment minister, i devised the new brazilian national determined contribution, which foresaw decarbonisation by 2060, and maybe 2050 if we had some sort of financial counterpart to that. it was considered a very good contribution by the climate change institutions. so, so, hang on. so, if you and bolsonaro actually did feel that brazil should engage with this process, why is it that certainly for the two years you were foreign minister, all the statistics show that the rate of deforestation increased? they also show that impunity for illegal logging and mining actually prevailed right across those parts of brazil where mining and deforestation were at the most active. you did absolutely nothing in your years in government to stop any of that. that's not true again.
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i devised, for example, an instrument with the international development bank in order to carry more investment from the whole world into a clean and green projects in the amazon. because the great question, the great challenge in the amazon is to create green jobs for the people so that the people, 30 million brazilians that live in the amazon, don't have to resort to illegal activities. previous governments never did anything to care for those people, the real brazilians that live there in misery. 0k? so, one of the things that i tried to do was to create more awareness about that and to help create instruments to generate real clean green jobs for those people. so, no, i think you're reasoning from totally incorrect premises, as i said, they don't correspond to the facts. we never wanted to have the room free for more deforestation. that's absolutely not the case.
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we always wanted to curb deforestation, but how to do it, how to do it? it's not to give money to international ngos that you don't know, don't have any accountability. it's to create green or... some serious ngos, ok, but that's not the only thing to do, and that's not the main thing to do. the main thing to do is to create conditions for the people to have decent livelihoods in the amazon. one of the things would be legal mining. legal mining under all the sustainable conditions could be good for the amazon. the demonisation of mining only creates the stimulus for illegal mining, which is something that, yes, that can create a problem... i don't think you're arguing with me that the bolsonaro administration has utterly failed to stop the illegal mining or indeed the illegal logging, but before we finish and we don't have much time, let's just get on to your analysis of where brazil sits in the international community today. i just wonder whether you feel
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that your foreign policy strategy, which was very loud, vocal support for donald trump, very loud, vocal condemnation of china, whether you think that that has been strategically wise for brazil. yes, of course. well, for the first time in many, many decades, we had a strategic foreign policy. before i was there and after i left, now we're back to a mediocre foreign policy that only thinks about today's gain, and even that is not coming. for the time... you described, you described donald trump as the saviour of the west, even after the assault on the capitol onjanuary 6, 2021 after trump had lost the election. you defended the right of people to demonstrate, and you said it was wrong to characterise "good citizens as fascists". you' seems to me... don't you agree? ..a guy who was determined
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to go to the very end in your support of donald trump, and the fact is he's no longer in power, joe biden�*s in power. joe biden has refused to even make a phone call to president bolsonaro. you have soured and toxified relations between brasilia and washington. not true. no, that's not true. a very, totally wrong interpretation. why we were close with the united states under donald trump, because we share the same values. we want a world of sovereign nations and not a world dominated by transnational elites and by a communist dictatorship such as china, and we are working together with the west, and we were putting together very robust ideas about how to deal with that together with a great, great guy, mike pompeo, then secretary of state... but with respect, none of these people are in power any more, and isn't the truth that probably mr bolsonaro won't be in power after the election that comes next year? all the polls show that he is now lagging far behind former president lula, who seems determined to run
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in the next election. i put it to you one more time, as a result of the failures of your policymaking and your boss's, mr bolsonaro, your time, your time will soon be up. no. well, we're there for values. so, the time for sovereignty, the time forforeign policy that corresponds to the feelings of the brazilian people will not be up. yeah? unfortunately, and you don't want to see that, but if you go and study brazil, in reality, you'll see what i mean when i say that we are up against a very strong, corrupt system and foreign policy during my tenure was an instrument to fight against that system, and our alliance with the united states was one of the instruments for that. we had shared values with the trump administration. we still have shared values that the biden administration, and i dealt with them and i still, in my term, had very good conversations with tony blinken,
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with john kerry, for example. do you want to see the world dominated by a country whose system is social control, like china? no, i don't think brazil will ever want that. i don't know... i don't think the united states under biden wants that. i think trump was clearer and his administration and mike pompeo was clearer about what brazil can do together with the united states and other democracies, like india,japan... all right. order to defend freedom around the world, but the ideal of freedom will not... ..will not be... ..will not give up. ernesto araujo, i'm sorry to stop you there, but we're out of time. thank you very much forjoining me on hardtalk. thank you.
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hello there. temperatures were as high as 14 degrees on wednesday, and the rest of the week will stay mild. i suspect many of us, though, will continue to see cloudy skies like this. there was some sunshine, though, across a good part of yorkshire and lincolnshire on wednesday, but these areas with those clearer skies are starting a bit colder on thursday morning. mild elsewhere underneath that blanket of cloud. could be some mist and fog patches with those clearer skies across parts of northern england, even down into norfolk as well. we'll see those mist and fog patches lifting, and the best of the sunshine more likely to be to the east of the pennines in the north east of england. a lot of cloud around elsewhere. there's a bit of rain and drizzle across northern parts of scotland becoming more confined towards the northern isles. whether you've got the cloud or not, though, it's still a mild day for the time of year. temperatures widely in double figures once again. now, high pressure is
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building in across the uk. that's why it's so quiet, but that high pressure is bringing with it a good deal of cloud. now, the cloud could just be thick enough to give one or two spots of drizzle across more southern parts of the uk, whereas again a mild start on friday. a little bit chillier across some eastern parts of scotland, the north east of england, perhaps even into the north west of wales, where there could be a few breaks overnight. but as you can see, not a great deal of sunshine on offer on friday. the winds are light in most places, just picking up a touch there in the far south west of england. and again, it's mild. 8—9 degrees more typically across northern parts of england and scotland, this time temperatures are starting to ebb awayjust a little. this weekend, though, we're going to hang on the cloudy skies for most of the country. a lot of dry weather around as well, of course. limited amounts of sunshine means a limited amount of frost. it will be turning a bit colder as the weekend goes on. you can see we may have some sunshine across the north east of scotland, perhaps west wales, into the far south west of england, where there's a bit more breeze on saturday. but otherwise, it looks cloudy once again. and we may just sneak those
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temperatures across southern parts in particular into double figures. there's the area of high pressure. it's really taking a shine to the uk. it's not going to move very far at all during this weekend. so, again, the winds are likely to be light, but as you can see again it looks like it's going to be quite cloudy. that cloud could be quite low as well, so some mist and some fog potentially over some higher parts of the uk. and those temperatures beginning to drop away a little bit. it will feel a little bit chillier on sunday.
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he welcome to newsday. reporting live from singapore, i'm karishma vaswani. the headlines: the 0micron variant fuels a record high of daily covid cases in the uk, with a warning of staggering numbers to come. seeing the destruction for himself — president biden goes to kentucky and winesses the devastation caused by deadly tornadoes. when you look around here, it is just almost beyond belief. these tornadoes devoured everything in their path. a stunning rescue in hong kong — more than 100 people trapped on the roof of a burning building. sir lewis hamilton, for services to motorsport. and — arise sir lewis!
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he may have lost his world title


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