Brazil and its backyard

October 24, 2014

The Economist (print edition),  10/25/2014

Like voters in most democracies, Brazilians pay little heed to foreign policy when choosing leaders. Yet the presidential election on October 26th matters not just to Brazil but to the region. Over the past two decades Latin America’s giant has overcome its introversion and wielded growing influence in its backyard. And on foreign policy, as on economics, there is a clear gap between President Dilma Rousseff of the centre-left Workers’ Party (PT), who wants a second term, and her rival, Aécio Neves, of the centre-right Party of Brazilian Social Democracy (PSDB).

Brazil’s greater assertiveness began under Fernando Henrique Cardoso of the PSDB in the 1990s and continued under the PT’s Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, the president in 2003-10. Both gave importance to the Mercosur trade block (founded by Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay), to South America and to ties with Africa and Asia. Both had reservations about a 34-country Free-Trade Area of the Americas, a plan that Lula helped to kill.

But there were differences, too, partly because of Brazil’s changing circumstances. Lula put far more stress on “south-south” ties and on the BRICs grouping (linking Brazil to Russia, India, China and later South Africa). In Latin America he emphasised “political co-operation”. Relations with the United States were cordial but distant, especially after Lula tried brokering a nuclear deal with Iran which the White House opposed.

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Neck & neck Brazil presidential race casts doubts on Mercosur, BRICS

October 21, 2014

Mauricio Saverese – RT, 10/21/2014

About a year ago everyone expected an easy ride for President Dilma Rousseff in her reelection campaign. Now, in the final week of Brazil’s election season, she is technically tied with opposition’s Aécio Neves.

About 20 percent of voters, who reject both candidates or seem too tired of politics to show up on October 26, are hearing desperate claims from the incumbent and her antagonist. It is likely Brazilians only know what will happen after the last vote is counted. That uncertainty makes the country’s future a big mystery. And that includes a big chunk of South America’s powerhouse foreign policy.

Neither Rousseff nor Neves want to give away much of what they intend to do if victorious. But the president’s closest allies have given hints. Rousseff’s foreign advisor Marco Aurélio Garcia says “South America is a big asset” and insists Mercosur – the region’s free trade zone – must be strong to keep Brazil’s position as a Latin American spokesman. Neves’ aide Rubens Barbosa, a former ambassador to Washington, says Brazil does better by imploding Mercosur (which includes Venezuela, Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay), so there is a deal with the European Union and diplomacy that is friendlier to the US.

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Andres Oppenheimer: Brazilian election could help end country’s ‘paralysis’

September 19, 2014

Andres Oppenheimer – Miami Herald, 9/17/2014

Former Brazilian President Fernando Henrique Cardoso confirmed this week something that many of us have suspected: If the opposition wins the Oct. 5 presidential election, there will be changes in Brazilian foreign policy that might affect all of Latin America.

Cardoso, who modernized Latin America’s biggest economy during his two terms from 1995 to 2003 and remains one of Brazil’s most respected politicians, told me in an interview that if opposition candidate Marina Silva wins, she would not give her unconditional support to Venezuela, Argentina and other leftist populist governments, as current President Dilma Rousseff has done.

According to the latest polls, no candidate is likely to win in the first round of voting. In a second round, scheduled for Oct. 26, Socialist Party candidate Silva would have 47 percent of the vote, while Rousseff, of the ruling Workers’ Party, would get 43 percent, according to an Ibope poll released Wednesday.

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Fiji and Brazil pursue close cooperation

July 18, 2014

Islands Business, 7/18/2014

Fiji’s Ambassador to Brazil Cama Tuiloma signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on Political Consultations with the Brazilian Minister for External Relations, Luiz Figueiredo in Brasilia this week.

The MOU is an instrument for developing a dialogue mechanism to enhance and expand bilateral relations and cooperation between Fiji and Brazil. Under the MOU, the two countries will maintain periodic consultations on bilateral issues and mechanisms to promote and diversify cooperation for their mutual benefits including regional and international matters of common interest.

The MOU is in line with Fiji’s Foreign Policy of enhancing engagement with the international community while complementing initiatives on South-South Cooperation.

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The goal of projecting the country overseas is still a distant one

June 23, 2014

Carlos Eduardo Lins da Silva – Folha de S. Paulo, 5/31/2014

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Ten years ago on August 18th, with then President Lula in the audience, the Brazilian national soccer team with Ronaldo and Ronaldinho Gaúcho, beat Haiti in Port au Prince 6-0 in what was called the “Match of Peace.”

The event symbolized the Brazilian presence as the head of the UN mission in Haiti since 2004.

President Lula’s decision to accept this mission had to do with his ambition to project the country in the international stage as a first class actor even in areas that do not align with the country’s innate geopolitical interests.

Among the objectives on this agenda was gaining a permanent seat on the UN Security Council.

Lula’s willingness to take the lead with MINUSTAH was very well received by the U.S. Administration under George W. Bush.

Haiti, an extremely unstable and poor country, has been an issue of concern for Washington due to its geographical location, ever since its independence in 1804. Read the rest of this entry »


FACT SHEET: The U.S.-Brazil Bilateral Relationship

June 18, 2014

The White House, 6/17/2014

Vice President Biden traveled to Brazil to attend the first United States World Cup game and to meet with President Dilma Rousseff and Vice-President Michel Temer to discuss our countries’ broad and multifaceted bilateral relationship.

Growing Economic Cooperation

The United States and Brazil engage regularly in a number of formal dialogues and working groups on economic issues.  These consultations are contributing to two-way goods and services trade that exceeded $100 billion in 2013.  The United States has foreign direct investment in Brazil totaling roughly $80 billion and Brazilian foreign direct investment in the United States is rising, reaching approximately $14 billion in 2012.

The U.S. Secretary of the Treasury recently visited Brazil for discussions on bilateral and global economic and financial issues, reflecting the two countries’ increasingly shared stake in promoting strong, sustainable, and balanced global economic growth and job creation.  In May, the U.S. Secretary of Transportation visited Brazil to meet with Brazilian counterparts on land, air, and waterway transportation cooperation that can facilitate trade and travel.  The continued exchange of high-level official delegations underscores the two countries’ commitment to building a mutually-beneficial economic partnership.

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Brazil urgently needs a new foreign policy

March 24, 2014

The Economist, 3/23/2014

Since it is the only big power in South America, Brazil inevitably catches the eye of outsiders looking for a country to take the lead in resolving the region’s conflicts—such as the one raging in the streets of Venezuela.

Yet leader is not a role that Dilma Rousseff, Brazil’s president, is keen to play. She has reasons for her reluctance—and they explain why Brazilian foreign policy has run into trouble.

Ms Rousseff has behaved as a loyal ally to the elected, but autocratic, government of Nicolás Maduro, which faces opposition protests almost daily. Brazil worked hard to thwart any role in Venezuela for the Organisation of American States, which includes the United States. Instead, the foreign ministers of the South American Union (UNASUR) have agreed to promote talks in Venezuela. It is an initiative without teeth: the ministers expressed their solidarity with Mr Maduro, disqualifying themselves as honest brokers in the opposition’s eyes.

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