March 28, 2014
Brian Winter – Reuters, 3/28/2014
Brazil, Latin America’s biggest economy and diplomatic power, has toned down its support for Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro because of disappointment over how he is handling mounting economic problems and opposition-led street protests.
The shift, while subtle, has deprived Maduro of some of the regional backing he wants at a time of food shortages, high inflation and political uncertainty in the OPEC nation.
Broadly speaking, Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff remains an ally of Maduro. While Rousseff is more moderate, both are part of a generation of leftist Latin American presidents who grew up opposing pro-Washington governments and believe they are united by a mission to help the poor.
March 21, 2014
The Economist, 3/22/2014
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.
Brazil’s wrong-headed calculation is that the protests will fizzle out. Mr Maduro took a UNASUR statement on March 12th as a green light to launch another crackdown. Faced with a deteriorating economy and mounting unpopularity, Mr Maduro’s rule is likely to remain repressive. Given that Brazil’s ruling Workers’ Party (PT) claims to stand for democracy and human rights, he is a strange ally.
March 6, 2014
Paul Guzzo – The Tampa Tribune, 3/4/2014
From Tampa to the Senate floor in Washington, and throughout the United States, Cuban Americans who defend continued isolation of the Communist island nation are throwing their support behind Venezuelan Americans in their efforts to bring order to the South American country.
With 55 years of experience battling a socialist government, these Cuban Americans believe they have the knowhow Venezuelan Americans need to back an opposition party that has made waves in Venezuela since the launch of student protests blaming the government for poverty and corruption.
Foreign policy analysts, on the other hand, question whether any moves from U.S. soil can help. Instead, these voices say, the U.S. should step aside and urge mediation by an interested party closer to the turmoil — Brazil.
September 30, 2013
Carlos Alberto Montaner -The Miami Herald
President Dilma Rousseff of Brazil canceled her visit to President Obama. She was offended because the United States was peeking into her electronic mail. You don’t do that to a friendly country. The information, probably reliable, was provided by Edward Snowden from his refuge in Moscow.
Intrigued, I asked a former U.S. ambassador, “Why did they do it?” His explanation was starkly frank:
“From Washington’s perspective, the Brazilian government is not exactly friendly. By definition and history, Brazil is a friendly country that sided with us during World War II and Korea, but its present government is not.”
April 16, 2013
Global Post/Agence France-Presse, 04/15/2013
Brazil on Monday congratulated Venezuela’s acting leader Nicolas Maduro on his narrow win in weekend presidential elections to elect a successor to Hugo Chavez.
“I congratulate President Maduro on his victory and we reaffirm our willingness to continue working very closely with the Venezuelan government,” Brazilian Foreign Minister Antonio Patriota told reporters.
Maduro, Chavez’s handpicked political heir, on Sunday won 50.7 percent of the vote, to 49.1 percent for opposition leader Henrique Capriles, according to Venezuelan electoral authorities.
April 16, 2013
Brazil’s Foreign minister Antonio Patriota congratulated Nicolas Maduro for his election as president of Venezuela and reaffirmed Brazil’s decision to continue working closely with Caracas.
Patriota also gave full support to the statements from the Unasur follow-up mission which was present at the election and insisted that the results given by Venezuela’s electoral authorities ‘must be respected’.
“Sunday’s election was a victory for democracy. In our region we consider the full exercise of democracy as an essential ingredient of regional integration and for closer and deeper relations at all levels between Brail and Venezuela”, said Patriota.
March 21, 2013
Esteban Israel – Chicago Tribune/Reuters, 03/21/2013
If Brazil’s business leaders could vote in Venezuela’s election next month, they would cast their ballots for Hugo Chavez’s political heir, acting president Nicolas Maduro.
They never supported the anti-capitalist bluster of Chavez, who died of cancer last month, but they hope to hold on to lucrative contracts for food exports and construction projects that he signed with Brazil’s former leftist leader Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva and his successor, Dilma Rousseff.
“In the near term, a Maduro win would be best,” said Jose Augusto de Castro, head of Brazil’s Foreign Trade Association.
March 11, 2013
Paulo Sotero – Financial Times, 03/11/2013
Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff declared three days of official mourning in honour of her late Venezuelan colleague Hugo Chávez Frias, who died on Tuesday in Caracas after a two-year public battle with cancer. “We recognize a great leader, an irreparable loss and above all a friend of Brazil, a friend of the Brazilian people,” she said before leading a minute of silence at a meeting with rural leaders in Brasília carried live on national television.
There was, however, an uncharacteristic twist in Rousseff’s expression of condolences. “On many occasions,” she noted, “the Brazilian government did not agree” with the policies of the Bolivarian leader. Insiders say this was not an extemporaneous remark, but a pre-planned statement calibrated for domestic and international consumption.
Rousseff also put some distance between her government and Venezuelan Bolivarians and their allies by returning to Brasília before the official funeral ceremony on Friday, attended by three dozen leaders, including Iran’s president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and Cuba’s Raul Castro.
March 7, 2013
The New York Times – Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, 03/06/2013
HISTORY will affirm, justifiably, the role Hugo Chávez played in the integration of Latin America, and the significance of his 14-year presidency to the poor people of Venezuela, where he died on Tuesday after a long struggle with cancer.
However, before history is allowed to dictate our interpretation of the past, we must first have a clear understanding of Mr. Chávez’s significance, in both the domestic and international political contexts. Only then can the leaders and peoples of South America, arguably the world’s most dynamic continent today, clearly define the tasks ahead of us so that we might consolidate the advances toward international unity achieved in the past decade. Those tasks have gained new importance now that we are without the help of Mr. Chávez’s boundless energy; his deep belief in the potential for the integration of the nations of Latin America; and his commitment to the social transformations needed to ameliorate the misery of his people.
Mr. Chávez’s social campaigns, especially in the areas of public health, housing and education, succeeded in improving the standard of living of tens of millions of Venezuelans.
January 15, 2013
Brian Winter, Ana Flor – Reuters, 01/14/2013
Brazil is urging Venezuela’s government to hold elections as quickly as possible if President Hugo Chavez dies, senior officials told Reuters on Monday, a major intervention by Latin America’s regional powerhouse that could help ensure a smoother leadership transition in Caracas.
Brazilian officials have expressed their wishes directly to Venezuelan Vice President Nicolas Maduro, the officials said on condition of anonymity. Chavez has designated Maduro as his preferred successor if he loses his battle with cancer.
“We are explicitly saying that if Chavez dies, we would like to see elections as soon as possible,” one official said. “We think that’s the best way to ensure a peaceful democratic transition, which is Brazil’s main desire.”