Brazil’s Marina Silva wants better US ties

September 18, 2014

Associated Press – The Independent, 09/17/2014

Marina Silva, a front-running presidential candidate who grew up in the Amazon jungle and could become the first black to lead Brazil’s government, said Wednesday that if elected she’ll improve ties with the U.S. and strongly push for human rights in nations like Cuba.

She spoke exclusively to The Associated Press in her first interview with a foreign media outlet since being thrust into Brazil’s presidential campaign after her Socialist Party’s original candidate died in an Aug. 13 plane crash.

Silva, a former Amazon activist, senator and environment minister who pushed policies that helped Brazil slash the rate at which it was destroying the jungle, has found herself at the center of a suddenly hot presidential race pitting her against President Dilma Rousseff, with whom she’s running in a dead heat in the latest polls. The incumbent represents the Workers Party, which Silva helped found three decades ago.

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The story behind Cuba’s deal to send doctors to Brazil

July 17, 2014

Daniel A. Medina – Quartz, 7/16/2014

Last summer, long before before Brazil was demolished 7-1 by Germany in the World Cup, the country faced a crisis of another sort. Millions of citizens marched in cities across the country to demand wholesale reforms to the country’s crippled public health care system, which faced huge shortages of doctors and a failing infrastructure.

That’s when the tiny island nation of Cuba stepped in to this neglected area of the world’s seventh-largest economy.

Under Brazil’s Mais Médicos (“More Doctors”) program, which pays foreign physicians to work in underserved areas of the country, Cuba sent 4,500 doctors to rural areas in the Amazon and to the underserved slums known as favelas in its booming cities. The move angered Brazil’s doctors’ unions, who protested outside hospitals, and the Brazilian Medical Association filed a lawsuit in the country’s Supreme Court questioning its existence. Protestors denounced the program as only a temporary solution to a systemic problem, saying the changes should come internally, not by importing doctors.

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Cuban dissident blogger inflames splits in Brazil’s Congress

February 21, 2013

Anthony Boadle – Reuters, 02/20/2013

Cold War politics appeared to take over Brazil’s Congress on Wednesday during a visit by Cuban blogger Yoani Sanchez, with leftists heckling her as a pawn of U.S. imperialism and others praising her for standing up to Cuba’s communist government.

Sanchez, Cuba’s best-known dissident, has been followed by boisterous sympathizers of the Cuban government since she arrived in Brazil on Monday on her first trip abroad since receiving a passport to leave the Caribbean island.

After the screening of a documentary about Cuba that she was due to attend in northeastern Brazil was disrupted by demonstrators, Brazilian opposition politicians invited Sanchez to the capital Brasilia for a showing of the documentary in Congress.

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Brazil’s Cuban connection

January 23, 2013

Eduardo J. Gomez – America’s Quarterly, 01/18/2013

Brazil is once again seeking to enhance its international profile. But this time, rather than engaging in close partnerships with its fellow BRICS club members—Russia, India, China, and South Africa—Brazil is collaborating with a smaller nation: Cuba.

Since assuming office in 2011, Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff has worked closely with Cuban President Raúl Castro to strengthen their partnership in the hopes of further bolstering Brazil’s economic advantages and regional influence. She is achieving this by providing financial and technical assistance to help restructure Cuba’s economy while at the same time advancing Brazil’s economic interests through strategic investments in port infrastructure. Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez’ quickly deteriorating health has created incentives for Dilma to fortify her ties with Castro, gradually replacing Venezuela—Cuba’s biggest benefactor—as Cuba’s most important ally in the region.

But instead of bullying Cuba into following Brazil’s lead, Dilma is also gaining something in return for her citizens: technical assistance from Cuba to address educational illiteracy, a long-time developmental challenge for Brazil. In so doing, Cuba benefits by displaying its impressive success in education reform, while highlighting its potential to be an amicable partner in hemispheric affairs.

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Brazil official: Chave’s health stable, improving

December 18, 2012

AP/The Miami Herald, 12/18/2012

Brazil’s foreign minister says Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez seems to be improving after cancer surgery.

Brazil’s state-run news agency Agencia Brasil cites Foreign Minister Antonio Patriota as saying that Brazilian officials are monitoring daily the health of Chavez.

Patriota says that the latest news on Chavez indicates “stabilization and even positive developments.”

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Last Americas Summit without Cuba, agree Argentina and Brazil

March 14, 2012

Mercopress, 03/14/2012

Timerman and Patriota expressed concern about the “possible presence of nuclear weapons in the South Atlantic area”. (Mercopress)

Argentina and Brazil Foreign Affairs ministers said in Sao Paulo both countries are committed that the next Summit of the Americas to be held in April in Colombia is the last without the participation of Cuba.

“This has to be the last summit in which Cuba does not participate”, said Argentine minister Hector Timerman, standing next to Brazil’s Antonio Patriota. The presence of Cuba is necessary so that “finally we have a Summit of the Americas”

Patriota recalled that at the previous summit then President Lula da Silva had openly expressed the support and need for Cuba to attend the meeting.

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Chavez chooses Cuba over Brazil for chemotherapy treatment

July 18, 2011

Charlie Devereux – Bloomberg, 07/16/2011

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said he’ll return to Cuba today to receive chemotherapy, ending rumors he was considering Brazil as an alternative venue for cancer treatment.

“I’m going to begin the second stage of this slow and complex process of recuperation,” Chavez, 56, said yesterday on state television. “The second stage will start with chemotherapy that has already been planned in scientific detail.”

Chavez, who has led South America’s largest oil producer since 1999, was operated on June 20 in Cuba for an undisclosed form of cancer after an initial operation to remove a pelvic abscess on June 11. The self-declared socialist said July 13 that doctors removed a baseball-sized tumor from his pelvic area. Chavez said modern technology will allow him to continue to lead his government from Cuba.

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