Nasr Escobar, Would Joaquim Barbosa Presidency be an achievement for black Brazilians?


Joaquim Barbosa

Former Supreme Court Justice Joaquim Barbosa hasn’t made an official statement on the possibility of throwing his name in the hat of presidential candidates. But even so, his registering with a political party only one day before the deadline of possible candidates to do so is reason to believe that will soon make an announcement.

The press clearly has reason for all of the clamor since Barbosa joined the PSB (Brazilian Socialist Party) earlier this month. Of course, he was the first black president of the Supreme Court, no small accomplishment. And having chosen the PSB, Barbosa has chosen to sidestep allegiance to the two political powerhouses that have dominated Brazilian politics since the mid 90s, the PSDB and the PT. Barbosa was one Time magazine’s 100 most influential people in the world in 2013, and one of ten Brazilians who were international news items, also in 2013, according to the BBC. Barbosa also became a hero for millions of Brazilians who are fed up with political corruption during his performance in the so-called mensalão trials that saw numerous poltical figures sent to prison.

But one of the questions on the minds of many is what a Barbosa presidency would mean for black Brazilians. I’ve got my own thoughts on the topic, but for now, I’ll let facts rain on individual thought.


Would Joaquim Barbosa in the Presidency be an achievement for the blacks?

Would Joaquim Barbosa’s election be a victory for blacks in Brazil? The likely entry of the former STF (Supreme Court) minister into the presidential race throws doubt on whether his coming to power would imply effective measures for racial equality

By Nasr Escobar


Joaquim Barbosa’s likely entry into the presidential race raises doubts whether his victory would imply effective measures for racial equality.

Apart from the symbolic factor of a black man occupying for the first time the presidency of the Republic after the re-democratization since Nilo Peçanha, president of 1909 to 1910, became the only black to command the country -, there is no evidence that Joaquim Barbosa would create a government committed to reducing the social chasms provoked by the racist structure that formed Brazil.

Appointed minister of the Federal Supreme Court (STF) in 2003, by then President Lula da Silva, JB carries some credentials that enable him to fill hopeful voters with hope. From a poor family, he made his career in the Public Ministry and in the academic area before becoming the first black president of the Supreme Court.

He is the author of the book Ação afirmativa & princípio constitucional da igualdade (Affirmative Action & Constitutional Principle of Equality) in which he analyzes legal and philosophical aspects of affirmative action in the United States. In 2012, in the STF, he voted in favor of the constitutionality of racial quotas in an action of the Democratas party against the mechanism of insertion of blacks in university education.

During an interview with the laughing Roberto D’Avila, he admitted that as a child he cried due to suffering racism and refuted the interviewer’s insinuation that in Brazil social discrimination prevails over race.

A closer look at these issues reveals that JB is far from being an uncompromising advocate of the black cause. In the vote on the legality of quotas, his vote was the same as that of his STF comrades, all white.

Although he spoke to Roberto D’Avila about the existence of structural racism, he shied away from the idea that his appointment at the STF was a way of fighting against racism.

“I don’t think I came here to fight racism. I always thought that my presence here would contribute to de-racializing Brazil, to de-racialize the relations, I hope the day I leave here, the presidents know how to choose the people here and choose black people naturally,” said JB in the interview from 2014, assuming a discourse that would not sound strange in Ferdinand Holiday’s mouth, if the anti-quota councilman was more elegant with words.

A frequenter of Twitter, JB has been making some sarcastic remarks about President Michel Temer and opinions on international politics, but he has not used characters to speak of the extermination of young blacks.

Recent episodes such as the death of councilwoman Marielle Franco and the murders of five young women in Maricá (RJ) have gone blank.

The last thing the black cause needs is silence on these cases. Silencing yourself with a platform to express yourself, as JB has, is to take a stand in the political debate. In this case, the position doesn’t give rise to movements in order to contain the exclusion caused by color.

As serious as the silence over the Marielle case was the ex-minister’s statement regarding the establishment of quotas in the Judiciary.

“I don’t know and I’m leaving. Es ist mir ganz egal (in German, ‘for me it makes no difference’),” he told reporters at the time of the STF, who questioned him after the Census of the Judiciary revealed that only 1.4% of the country’s judges declare themselves black.

JB can even use the political marketing ploy to minimize this claim and earn an activist veneer that he never had if he fights for the presidency. But what he said or did not say is there, registered for anyone who wants to see.



By Nasr Escobar ,Ambassador to The African Union and a Adjunct senior fellow for African peace and security issues at the Council of African Affairs,U.S. Representative to the Afro-Brazilian Chamber of Commerce 

Nasr Escobar, Ambassador to The African Union



Are we witnessing a ‘new power scramble for Africa’? Nasr Escobar

Superpowers are once again competing for influence in Africa. It’s time for the continent to reclaim its sovereignty.



african union


The world’s most powerful nations are once again competing for the control of the abundant natural resources of the African continent. Some analysts describe this phenomenon as a “new scramble for Africa” in reference to the first “scramble for Africa”, which took place between 1881 and 1914 and resulted in powerful European nations dividing, occupying and colonizing the continent.

Superpowers like the US, China and Russia, as well as some key European countries, and less powerful nations like Japan, India and Brazil are currently active in Africa. Some energy-rich Gulf countries are also racing to consolidate their investments on the continent, as they seek to expand their economies beyond oil and gas sectors.

Foreign military presence is also growing on the continent under the guise of counter terrorism efforts. Djibouti has agreed to host American naval and drone bases that conduct operations in the Horn of Africa and beyond. Many other nations have also established military bases in the country, including France – the former colonial power – Italy and Japan. The French military base in Djibouti is hosting troops from Germany and Spain. On the other hand, some of the parties to the GCC crisis, such as Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, have established military bases in Eritrea and Somaliland, while Somalia is hosting Turkish troops. Furthermore, the US has been increasingly involved in the fight against “terror” groups in the Sahel, providing arms and military training to the governments of the region.

At the moment, Africa does not have a serious, unified strategy or the institutional capacity to effectively respond to this so-called “new scramble for Africa”. It is true that, in 2016, the African Union (AU) introduced an ambitious strategic framework called Agenda 2063 under the leadership of Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, the former Chairperson of the AU Commission. But this agenda does not include a clear and coherent strategy on increasing foreign presence and competition in Africa. Furthermore, African leaders seem to lack the necessary political will to counter these efforts and protect the continent’s vital interests. But all is not lost – Africa can still turn this situation around, reclaim its sovereign rights and take its rightful place on the world stage.

Trump’s lack of interest in Africa

The United States is losing some ground against China in Africa, but it is still an influential foreign power on the continent.

For decades, it has invested billions of dollars in aid, health, development projects, and cultural and educational programmes. Furthermore, it supported peacekeeping, peace building and humanitarian intervention operations. In return, it used Africa’s immense natural resources to meet the needs of its industries.

However, since the 9/11 attacks, US activities in Africa have been shaped by the so-called “war on terror”. Even US humanitarian aid to Africa has been linked to this agenda. Since 2007, AFRICOM, the US Africa Command, has been playing a major role in the fight against “terror groups” across the continent. Nevertheless, African countries have been reluctant to host AFRICOM as they are deeply suspicious of its agenda and feel it could undermine their sovereignty. For this reason, AFRICOM is based in Germany and not on the continent.

Moreover, Washington’s policies on Africa are more enigmatic today than ever before.

Africa was not a foreign policy priority for the Obama administration, which focused its efforts in the Middle East, and it is also not a priority for the current administration. Some key vacancies in the Department of State’s Africa Bureau have not even been filled yet. Just like his predecessor, Trump’s focus is currently on the Middle East. It is obvious that the new US president is not looking to form a meaningful, mutually beneficial partnership with Africa – he only wants to pursue narrow national interests, namely counter terrorism efforts and extraction of natural resources.

Also, during his election campaign and after assuming office, Trump made several controversial remarks about Africa that were described by Africans and many others as insulting and racist. In January this year, it was claimed that Trump had referred to African nations as “sh****** countries”. The president immediately denied using such vocabulary, but this remark has since turned into a symbol of his insulting attitude towards the African continent and its people. Even if Trump decides to make Africa a priority later in his tenure, he would be facing the grueling challenge of gaining the trust and respect of African peoples.

Africa as a market opportunity for Russia

Russia is another key player in Africa. Earlier this month, Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov went on an extensive Africa tour during which he visited Ethiopia,Zimbabwe, Angola, Namibia and Mozambique. In Ethiopia, he attended the joint ministerial committee that was established to advance bilateral relations between the two countries. Lavrov also met the chairperson of the AU in Addis Ababa.

It is quite revealing that Lavrov chose to visit only one East African country – Ethiopia – during his Africa tour. All the other countries he visited were Southern African countries that have huge natural resources like oil, uranium, copper, gold and cobalt. This shows that Russia’s main priority in Africa is not reviving its Soviet-era prestige and influence, but extraction of natural resources.

But Russia is also investing in security and military projects in Africa. As the second-largest arms exporter in the world after the US, it sells billions of dollars in weapons annually across the continent. During his latest visit, Lavrov signed a defence cooperation agreement with Mozambique.

As a result of the sanctions that have been imposed on it by the US and Europe, Russia is now looking for new markets and seeking to make Africa one of its main export centers. All in all, Russia views Africa as a major trade opportunity and hopes to extend its influence in the continent rapidly.

China: the new dominant foreign power in Africa

As the world’s second-largest economy, China has become Africa’s most important and influential development and trade partner over the past two decades. China has no colonial past in Africa, in fact, like Russia, it supported Africa’s liberation struggle in the mid-20th century. China’s “clean” history in Africa makes it easier for the country to extend its influence in the region.

China’s influence on the continent started to increase rapidly in 2000, after the establishment of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC). Since then, cooperation forums have been held every three years, and the next forum is scheduled to convene in Beijing later this year.

In 2000, the China-Africa trade volume was just $10bn. By 2014, the value of contracts that were undertaken by Chinese companies in Africa reached $75bn. In 2015, China pledged to invest a further $60bn in Africa to cover major collaborative projects on industrialization, agricultural modernization, infrastructure, finance, green development, trade and investment, poverty reduction, public welfare, public health, and peace and security.

Nevertheless, China’s activities in Africa are under harsh criticism. For instance, the head of the US’ National Trade Council, Peter Navarro, had accused China of “locking down strategic natural resources, locking up emerging markets and locking out the United States”. Others criticized China for pursuing a “new form of colonialism” and “massive resource grab” in Africa. Furthermore, Chinese programs have an adverse impact on the environment.

How to respond to the ‘new scramble for Africa’

Today, these three superpowers may be competing for influence in Africa, but the level of exploitation and cruelty caused by this rivalry does not amount to the atrocities committed during the original “scramble for Africa”.

Africans still have a chance to successfully navigate the situation.

The AU should develop a coherent, unified and comprehensive strategy to deal with the three superpowers’ competition over its natural resources and engage all three superpowers to cooperate with Africa instead of exploiting it. It should swiftly implement robust institutional reforms and start acting as the decisive power on the continent. Also, in order to resist any detrimental foreign interference and preserve their independence, dignity, and sovereignty, African states should work towards ending their financial dependency on the West and other international players. The continent’s independent military capabilities should also be increased in order to have the ability to maintain peace and security without needing any help from foreign powers that undoubtedly have ulterior motives and conflicting interests.

Most importantly, African masses, civil society, youth and women groups should play a leading role in Africa’s relations with the world – the era of gatekeepers must end. It is natural and vital that Africans engage with the world directly. There may be a “new scramble for Africa” under way, but this time, Africans can and should be the ones benefiting from the superpowers interest in their countries. The US, Russia and China – and any other foreign power – should only be allowed to operate in Africa as long as their actions are also beneficial for the continent.


By Nasr Escobar, Presently the Ambassador to The African Union and a Adjunct senior fellow for African peace and security issues at the Council of African Affairs , Nasr also sits on the Africa-Middle East Trade and Securities Counsel.


The US has another bullish trade spat with Africa – and it’s over old clothes

The US has another bullish trade spat with Africa – and it’s over old clothes

  • The U.S.’ notice period for the east African country of Rwanda to reduce its tariff on imported used clothing — or face the consequences — expired on Monday.
  • Rwanda risks losing the economic benefits of its membership of the U.S.’ African Growth and Opportunity Act, which permits duty-free U.S. imports on 6,500 goods.
  • In July 2016 Rwanda, along with Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda, hiked tariffs on imported second-hand garments, fearing that cheap clothes from abroad were threatening domestic manufacturing.
  • Rwanada,Foreign trade,Africa,Policy,AOGA,Trump administration



Nyamirambo Market in the Rwandan


While the U.S.’ tempestuous trade relationship with China has dominated the news, the world’s largest economy is also harboring a disagreement with the landlocked African country of Rwanda over an unusual commodity — second-hand clothes.

The U.S.’ 60-day notice period for Rwanda to reduce its tariff on imported used clothing — or face the consequences — expired on Monday. Details on what will happen next to an industry which creates tens of thousands of jobs in both countries are hazy.

In July 2016, the east African countries of Rwanda, Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda hiked tariffs on imported second-hand garments, citing fears that cheap clothes from abroad were threatening their domestic manufacturing industries. Rwanda reportedly increased duties by 20 cents to $2.50 per kilogram.

Discussion among the east African countries of banning imports completely by 2019 has been on the cards as far back as 2015.

But in March last year, the matter was alerted to the Office of the United States Trade Representative by the Secondary Materials and Recycled Textiles Association, a U.S.-based group representing companies that gather and sell on the U.S.’ old clothes. It maintained that 40,000 U.S. jobs would be negatively impacted, as well as tens of thousands of jobs in the east African countries themselves, should an embargo be put in place.

Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda have since backed away from the tax hikes following a U.S. threat to limit the benefits from their membership of the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) — the U.S.’ main trade legislation for Africa which permits duty-free U.S. imports on 6,500 goods.

“Rwanda is not making sufficient progress toward the elimination of barriers to U.S. trade and investment, and therefore is out of compliance with eligibility requirements” of the act, said a statement on the U.S. Trade Representative website.

The U.S. used clothing business is worth nearly $1 billion, according to Reuters. AGOA means that goods from international brands that are manufactured in Africa can be exported to the U.S. duty free. Since the law was implemented in 2000, African exports to the U.S. almost quadrupled to over $1 billion, Reuters reported.

But Rwanda has refused to back down from the fight. Despite membership of the U.S. act, we “have to do other things, we have to grow and establish our industries,” Rwandan President Paul Kagame is reported to have said in June 2017.

Rwanada,Foreign trade,Africa,Policy,AOGA,Trump administration

Ordinary Rwandans have voiced concerns about expensive clothing hurting the poor as a consequence of increased import duties.

In 2017, Rwanda’s trade deficit with the U.S. was $22.4 million, according to, an online information resource about the act.

Both the U.S. Trade Representative and Rwandan government bodies were not immediately available for comment when contacted by CNBC.

The African Union securities and trade divisions Ambassador Nasr Escobar has spoken to the government of Rwanda and the U.S. to extend the deadline to negotiate a compromise on tariffs

Rwanda’s economy is expected to grow 7.2 percent this year, well above the emerging market average of 4.9 percent, according to the International Monetary Fund. The country is ranked as the second easiest place to do business in Africa by the World Bank. It hopes that its clothing industry can create 25,000 jobs by 2020, Reuters reported.

Nyamirambo Market
Nyamirambo Market



The African continent is on the cusp of something big

The African continent is on the cusp of something big


Fifty-five nations are negotiating a free trade deal that will cover more than 1.2 billion people across The African continent is on the cusp of something big,  from Morocco all the way to South Africa.


Their leaders are planning to give political backing to the deal in late March, and launch a free trade zone for goods and services before the end of 2018, according to a spokesperson for the African Union, an organization that represents all 55 countries.

The Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA) could eventually be extended to create common policies on investment, competition and intellectual property.

It covers economies with a combined GDP of around $3.4 trillion.

The deal is designed to replace a patchwork of smaller trade agreements and bring countries closer together, following the pattern set by the European Union.

Like the EU, African nations hope one day to allow the free movement of people across the continent.

Nasr Escobar,Ethopia African Union Office
Nasr Escobar,Ethopia African Union Office

Nasr Escobar the Ambassador to The African Union Securities Exchange Commision Division stated That a African central bank and single currency could follow within 10 years.

Analysts are still crunching the numbers for what the CFTA means for economic growth and prosperity. The United Nations estimated in 2012 that the CFTA could boost trade within Africa by about 50% over the course of a decade.

Growth is very uneven across the continent and has generally slowed over the past few years, down to 3.5% in 2017 from a recent peak of 7% in 2012, according to the International Monetary Fund. It is forecast to rise in the coming years, but not by much.


“The potential for the agreement to support the continent’s development is huge,” said Danae Kyriakopoulou, chief economist at the Official Monetary and Financial Institutions Forum (OMFIF), a financial think tank in London

Two of the biggest economies — Nigeria and South Africa — support the deal, according to the African Union, which works to promote economic and political integration. Nigeria is chairing the negotiations while South Africa has sent big delegations to each round of talks, it added.

The African continent
The African continent

African Union head of State Summit

In a recent article in the Financial Times, Niger’s President Mahamadou Issoufou listed several obstacles to boosting continental trade, including “border delays, burdensome customs and inspection procedures.”

But the potential rewards are simply too big to ignore, he added.

The African continent is on the cusp of something big

“With the continent’s economy expected to grow to $29 trillion by 2050, the CFTA may evolve to cover a market that is larger than NAFTA today,” he wrote, referring to the North American Free Trade Agreement between the U.S., Canada and Mexico.

HipHop Artist `Drake`sued over hit songs “Marvins Room” by ex -girlfriend

HipHop Artist `Drake`sued over hit songs “Marvins Room” by ex -girlfriend.

Drake has been sued by an ex-girlfriend who claims she co-wrote the hit song “Marvin’s Room” and HipHop Artist `Drake`sued over hit songs “Marvins Room” is entitled to part ownership in the copyright in the song; copyright in the sound recording; and payment of songwriter royalties.  


The first 30 seconds of the song is a recording of a phone conversation with the ex-girlfriend and plaintiff, Erika Lee. Lee asserts that she and Drake had every intention to write the song together. Her contributions were intended to be incorporated into the final song.

HipHop Artist `Drake`sued over hit songs “Marvins Room”

Lee contends the intro “phone message” is key to the underlying song.Lee’s complaint is somewhat confusing as issues of ownership of the sound recording are intermingled with claims asserting ownership in the underlying song.

The most interesting thing in the complaint to me is a cause of action for Breach of Fiduciary Duty. Really, songwriters have a fiduciary duty to one another? If a record label doesn’t have a fiduciary duty to an artist. Do we really think that one songwriter would owe the highest duty of utmost care to a co-writer?



By: Nasr Escobar


Nasr Escobar,United Nations Office

Ambassador to The African Union
240 Park Ave NY.NY 10001