Fernando de Mello Barreto ’74 LL.M.
When Saõ Paulo native Fernando de Mello Barreto ’74 LL.M. accepted an offer to head the Brazilian Ministry of External Relations office in his hometown this past year, it seemed like an ideal opportunity to serve his country while setting up shop in a city filled with family and friends. Little did the longtime diplomat know that the new position would send him on a detour to Moscow instead.
Barreto doubled as Brazil’s interim ambassador to Russia for more than four months while the Brazilian Senate worked to approve a permanent replacement. All the while, his family remained in Boston—where he recently held the position of that city’s consul general of Brazil—so that his children could finish school there. (His son was recently accepted to Columbia University as an undergraduate.)
Barreto, who also served as Brazil’s ambassador to Australia from 2006 to 2010, explains that his legal training has proven consistently useful in his various postings around the world. “Whether you’re talking about trade, environmental issues, or human rights, having the vocabulary and the mindset of a lawyer helps,” he says.
While reflecting on the changes he has seen over the course of his career, Barreto points to Brazil’s transition from a military regime to a democratic government in the early 1980s, and the stabilization of its economy, as important developments that have helped the country become more influential in the international political arena.
Now in Saõ Paulo, Barreto is enjoying the chance to serve as a diplomat in his native country, but he does not see his role at the Ministry of External Relations as the final stop of his peripatetic career. “Diplomatic retirement age in Brazil is 70,” he says, “so I still have time for one more posting abroad.”