German Foreign Minister Baerbock’s first Latin American trip without success. No progress in quest for influence. Brazil deals Baerbock an open diplomatic rebuff.
BERLIN/BRASÍLIA/BOGOTÁ/CIUDAD DE PANAMÁ (Own report) – German Foreign Minister Baerbock’s first Latin American trip ended last week in Brazil with a hefty rebuff and with no apparent success in Colombia or Panama. Talks on climate and energy policy had officially been the focus of her trip. Brazil should be motivated to protect its Amazon Forest. Colombia is earmarked as Germany’s future green hydrogen supplier, and Panama with its Canal as the hub for South American hydrogen exports. It is unknown, whether the foreign minister’s trip yielded concrete results. And it is also not clear what Baerbock had achieved in her quest to strengthen the West’s position in the USA’s fierce power struggle, ongoing since some time, against China’s growing influence in Panama. Her attempt to pressure Brazil’s President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva and his government to choose sides against Russia in the Ukraine war, has utterly failed. Lula and his foreign minister granted Baerbock neither a meeting, nor a joint press conference with another member of the government. Read more
In enforcing the EU coal embargo against Russia, Germany has ramped up coal imports from Colombia – triggering protests from indigenous communities.
BERLIN/BOGOTÁ (Own report) – Germany's move to expand coal imports from Colombia to compensate for the loss of Russian coal under EU sanctions has sparked fresh protests around a notorious Colombian mine. The El Cerrejón mine and its operator Glencore have been sharply criticized for many years for human rights violations and severe environmental damage caused by mining practices in the region. German energy utilities are among the companies sourcing coal from El Cerrejón. Glencore was in fact considering closing the mine last year, but this is now off the table. The EU's embargo on Russian coal has driven up prices, which is why El Cerrejón is once again generating higher profits. Germany has also ramped up coal imports from Colombia. While the German government claims Glencore is now complying with human rights and environmental standards, local actors disagree. New protests, mainly by indigenous communities, against coal mining began in the region at the beginning of September. According to a representative of the indigenous Wayúu community, coal exploitation has only led to “contamination, environmental degradation and health problems”. Read more
BERLIN/BRASÍLIA/BOGOTÁ (Own report) - Under pretext of rallying "allies for human rights," Germany's Foreign Minister, Heiko Maas (SPD) will meet the two most right-wing presidents of South America. His interlocutor on Tuesday, Jair Messias Bolsonaro, is an avowed supporter of Brazil's military dictatorship. Already within the first month of his incumbency, police murders have drastically increased in his country. Columbia's President Iván Duque, whom Maas will meet thereafter, opposes the peace treaty with the FARC insurgents. Over the past two and a half years, more than 300 government opponents have been assassinated in that country - in most cases with impunity. While the foreign ministry is speaking of having a "foundation of shared values" with Bolsonaro and Duque, Berlin is actually seeking to rally allies in its struggle against China and Russia and to strengthen its position in Latin America vis-à-vis Washington. It is also striving to obtain access to sanctions-proof markets for Germany's export industry. Read more