Brazil foreign minister resigns amid vaccine shortage row: source

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Brazilian Foreign Minister Ernesto Araujo (right) has been a key member of the so-called "ideological wing" of far-right President Jair Bolsonaro's administration

Brazilian Foreign Minister Ernesto Araujo offered his resignation Monday to President Jair Bolsonaro, a government source told AFP, amid a row over the top diplomat's spats with China and problems securing more Covid-19 vaccines.

Araujo, a key member of the so-called "ideological wing" of the far-right president's administration, "decided to present his resignation," said the source, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Bolsonaro must now decide whether to accept it.

Araujo, 53, aligned himself closely with former US president Donald Trump's administration, and shared its hardline ideologues' disgust with "globalism."

He raised eyebrows with his attacks on "climate-change ideology," "gender ideology" and, since last year, "Covid-ism."

"Globalists," he said last October, "are taking a disease caused by a virus, Covid, and trying to turn it into a huge prescriptive apparatus to reformat and control the entire planet's social and economic relations."

His mistrust of expert advice on containing Covid-19 -- like Bolsonaro's -- has increasingly become a political liability as Brazil has struggled to secure enough vaccines for its 212 million people.

Vaccine shortages have put the government far off pace to meet the health ministry's target of immunizing the full adult population by the end of the year.

Brazil is meanwhile struggling to deal with an exploding number of severe Covid-19 cases and deaths that have pushed its hospitals to the breaking point, at a time when vaccines are finally helping some other countries bring the pandemic under control.

Araujo, a career diplomat, came in for criticism for the government's struggles to secure more vaccines.

With pressure mounting, the administration has faced criticism for its rejection of an offer last August to buy 70 million doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine -- which Bolsonaro joked could "turn you into an alligator" -- and its tense relations with Brazil's top trade partner, China.

Chinese-developed CoronaVac is currently the most-administered Covid-19 vaccine in Brazil, but only because the government of Sao Paulo state defied resistance from the Bolsonaro administration to acquire it.

Araujo, who took up the foreign minister post vowing to "resist Maoist China" and its plan "to dominate the world," had repeatedly provoked squabbles with Beijing.

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