Ernesto Araújo's days as Foreign Minister of Brazil seemed to be counted Thursday as he made what was perceived to be the last effort to stay on the job, while advisers to President Jair Bolsonaro already deem his departure inevitable.
Rumour at the Planalto has it Bolsonaro is aware of what needs to be done but will not make the move until he finds a suitable replacement. Araújo is regarded to be responsible for mishandling Brazil's quest to secure an adequate supply of anti-Covid-19 vaccines.
By Thursday evening, the strongest candidate to head Brazil's diplomatic corps was Nestor Forster, who is currently serving as ambassador to the United States. But Forster reportedly shares Araújo's philosophy which is that of writer Olavo de Carvalho and in that regard his appointment would be perceived as a sign of continuity, while a change, of course, seems more appropriate under the present conditions.
Nonetheless, an appointment of someone who does not entirely follow the President's views would be interpreted as a sign of weakness within Bolsonarianism.
Another likely candidate is Admiral Flávio Rocha, already in charge of the Secretariat for Strategic Affairs and the Government Secretariat for Social Communication.
Brazil's ambassador in Paris, Luís Fernando Serra, who plays an important role in refuting the criticism of the French press against the Bolsonaro government, is another likely contestant for the job, while former Presidents Fernando Collor and Michel Temer also appear to have a chance.
Araújo has been under heavy criticism lately from a broad coalition formed by the National Congress, the military, agribusiness leaders, other parliamentarians and top national businessmen.
The FM took part in a Senate session Wednesday, during which his resignation was requested. It seems unlikely that the support he has from Deputy Eduardo Bolsonaro, the president's son, will be enough to get him through this ordeal.
Araújo is criticised for his actions -or inactions rather- with regards to the Covid-19 pandemic. He claims he has remained anything but silent. Nevertheless, lawmakers and other influential circles demand an improvement in diplomacy with more dialogue with the United States and China and before the World Health Organization (WHO) to complain about the monopoly of laboratories in the production of vaccines.