Maputo — The Mozambican Foreign Ministry has categorically denied appointing a suspected Brazilian drug trafficker as a "consular attache" in the Brazilian city of Belo Horizonte.
The story appeared in the independent newssheet "Carta de Mocambique" on Tuesday. The paper identified the Brazilian as Marcos Roberto de Almeida, known as "Tuta", who is wanted by the Brazilian Federal Police.
He was a partner of the notorious drug trafficker Gilberto Aparecido dos Santos ("Fuminho") who was arrested in Mozambique in April in a joint operation between the Mozambican and Brazilian police, and the United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), and promptly deported to Brazil.
Tuta is a fugitive, and a target of "Operation Sharks", launched by the attorneys of the Sao Paulo Public Prosecutor's Office.
It was these Brazilian prosecutors who believed that Tuta was an attaché at the Mozambican honorary consulate, and "Carta de Mocambique" ran with the story.
The story named the honorary consul as Brazilian citizen Deusdete Januario Goncalves, and said the Brazilian Foreign Ministry had refused to renew his licence or his diplomatic passport.
The story cannot possibly be true, however, because there is no such thing as an honorary consulate, but only honorary consuls.
A Thursday statement from the Mozambican Foreign Ministry said that Deusdete Goncalves was indeed the honorary consul of Mozambique in Minas Gerais (the Brazilian state of which Belo Horizonte is the capital) , appointed in 2007. But he was removed from that post by a dispatch from Mozambican Foreign Minister Veronica Macamo in July of this year. The statement did not mention any reason for Macamo's decision.
A search through the Internet reveals that Goncalves used to call himself Mozambican "consul", although this was a position he never held.
The only tie the Mozambican government had was with Goncalves as Honorary Consul. The post of consular attaché exists, but only in full diplomatic missions such as embassies, and can only be held by citizens who are officials of the Mozambican state.
The claim that Tuta holds a Mozambican diplomatic passport is untrue, the Ministry statement added, since he never worked, directly or indirectly, for the Mozambican state.
Honorary consuls do not form part of the diplomatic service. Across the world they tend to be business people who have cultivated a relationship with the government they wish to represent. Any staff they employ are exclusively their responsibility.
Thus if Tuta was, at any stage, employed by Goncalves, it was Goncalves who paid his wages, not the Mozambican state.
Currently the only honorary consuls in Brazil listed on the Mozambican Foreign Ministry website are in Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo and Espirito Santo, not in Belo Horizonte.