Venezuelans flood Brazil border in 36-hour grocery run

Brian Ellsworth – Reuters, 08/10/2016

Government employee Jose Lara this month used some vacation days to take a long scenic bus ride through the verdant plateaus and sweeping savannas of southern Venezuela, but the trip was anything but a holiday.

It was a 36-hour grocery run.

Lara took an overnight bus and then a pick-up truck to get across the border to neighboring Brazil to buy food staples that have gone scarce in Venezuela’s crisis-stricken economy.

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Exclusive: Brazil wants Venezuela election if Chavez dies – source

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.”

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The winner of Mercosur’s expansion: Brazil

Andres Oppenheimer – Miami Herald, 8/2/2012

Conventional wisdom is that Venezuela was the big winner at this week’s Mercosur summit when the country officially joined South America’s trade bloc. But for me, the big winner was Brazil.

Granted, Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez, alongside Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff, Argentine President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, and Uruguayan President José Mujica, was the center of attention in Brasilia as he signed Venezuela’s official incorporation into Mercosur on Tuesday.

It was Chávez’s first official trip abroad not related to his cancer treatment in Cuba in more than a year and a major propaganda victory in his campaign to win his country’s Oct. 7 election.

Chávez’s smiling picture alongside the presidents of South America’s biggest countries not only helped him disarm critics’ claims that he is not physically fit to run for president but also aided him in making the case at home that he is not an international pariah whose only foreign friends are the dictatorships of Cuba, Syria, Iran, and Belarus.

Brazil’s Lula is ignoring rebel threat in Venezuela, Colombia’s Uribe says

Charlie Devereux and Andre Soliani- Bloomberg, 07/29/2010

Colombian President Alvaro Uribe said that Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva is ignoring the security threat that the presence of Marxist rebels in Venezuelan territory represents for his country.

Uribe’s accusation came as foreign ministers were set to gather at an emergency meeting of the Union of South American Nations in Quito, Ecuador today to resolve a dispute between Venezuela and the U.S.-allied Colombia.

Uribe, in a statement sent by his office, said he regrets that Lula is also overlooking his government’s efforts to seek dialogue with its neighbor. He said Lula is treating Colombia’s claims that Venezuela is harboring members of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, and National Liberation Army, or ELN, as if the controversy were a clash of personalities.

“With all respect we repeat to President Lula and the government of Brazil that the only solution Colombia will accept is that the presence of FARC and ELN terrorists on Venezuelan territory should not be permitted,” said the statement.

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Iran Ahmadinejad boosts Latin America ties

Juan Forero – The Washington Post, 11/29/2009

BOGOTA, COLOMBIA — Ever isolated by the United States and its European allies, Iran’s president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, is increasingly forging ties in Latin America, and not just with fervently anti-American leaders such as Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez. On Monday, Ahmadinejad met with President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva of Brazil, a vibrant democracy of 190 million that has the world’s eighth-largest economy and warm ties with the United States. The meeting raised concerns in Washington, which has advocated sanctions to pressure Iran to give up its nuclear program.

“From Iran’s point of view, it’s wonderful,” said Rep. Eliot L. Engel (D-N.Y.), chairman of the House Foreign Affairs subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere. “They have a willing dupe in Lula, who is apparently willing to extend official courtesy to make the Iranian regime seem like a legitimate regime.” In Brazil, though, Lula has publicly said that the West should not isolate Tehran but engage in talks. He also said that Brazil would use its growing influence to work for peace in the Middle East.

Paulo Sotero, director of the Brazil Institute at the Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington, noted that Lula told President Obama in a letter Thursday that he had conveyed to Ahmadinejad that it was in Iran’s interest to cooperate with the West.
With Iran’s rejection of the U.N. watchdog’s resolution, though, Sotero said, Lula’s invitation to Ahmadinejad could “go down as a gratuitous gesture and a mistaken gesture.”

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Ayatollahs in the backyard

The Economist – 11/28/2009

President Ahmadinejad’s visit this week vindicates Iran’s strategy of cosying up with Latin America.

HOW should you deal with elected leaders who view their domestic opponents as agents of foreign powers and occasionally muse about invading their neighbours? Brazil has some experience of this question after ten years of the presidency of Hugo Chávez in Venezuela. Its answer has always been simple: hug them close. This week that approach was stretched a little further when Iran’s president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, was received in Brasília on a state visit.

Brazil’s president, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, offered support for Iran’s work on nuclear technology for (supposedly) peaceful use. He also talked about Israel’s right to stay just where it is on the map, coexisting with a Palestinian state. Outside, protesters waved banners reminding Mr Ahmadinejad that the Holocaust had indeed taken place, and a debate on Brazil’s foreign policy began to blaze. “It is one thing to have diplomatic relations with dictatorships,” wrote José Serra, the governor of São Paulo state and (undeclared) front-runner for next year’s presidential election, in the Folha newspaper. “It is quite another to welcome their leaders into your house.” For Brazil, the risks are rather greater.

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Brazil, US urge talks in Venezuela, Colombia spat

Fabiola Sanchez-Miami Herald, 11/10/09

Brazil and the U.S. urged Colombia and Venezuela on Tuesday to talk out their differences after Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez ordered his military to prepare for a possible war with his neighbor.

The push for diplomacy came as many in both Colombia and Venezuela dismissed Chavez’s words as an attempt to distract attention from domestic problems, including the struggling economy and water shortages and power blackouts.

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