Brazil tries to rebuild relations with U.S. after NSA spying scandal

Jackie Northam – NPR, 6/30/2015

It’s rare that a world leader will cancel a planned state visit to the White House, but that’s what happened two years ago when Brazil’s President Dilma Rousseff found out that the U.S. had been spying on her and her top aides.

The Brazilian leader is now trying to let bygones be bygones, and is in Washington, D.C., to visit with President Obama.

Rousseff’s decision to cancel the state visit — with its formal dinners and high-profile meetings — threw a strong and robust bilateral relationship into disarray, says Eric Farnsworth of the Council of the Americas and Americas Society.

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A ‘New Chapter’ between Brasília and Washington

Paulo Sotero – O Estado de S.Paulo, 6/29/2015

The relations between Brazil and the United States have been stagnated since 2011, marked by Lula’s failed attempt to mediate a nuclear agreement between Iran and the international community. President Obama tried to reenact the bilateral dialogue weeks after, as soon as President Dilma Rousseff took office, but NSA’s espionage of Rousseff was not well taken by Brazil, and relations went back to where they had been. Both governments kept emphasizing the importance of a bilateral partnership but didn’t actually do anything to enforce it.
According to the White House’s security adviser, Ben Rhodes, a “new chapter” is about to start with Rousseff’s visit to the United States this week. Rousseff’s agenda includes visits to New York, Washington DC, and San Francisco. She will be meeting with presidents of companies, and attend panels for high executive leaders in New York. In California, she will visit Google and discuss new technologies and innovation. In Washington DC, she will be meeting with President Obama to discuss commerce, investment, security and defense, regional cooperation, science and technology, and very importantly, climate issues.
The timing of the visit is also very significant for the Brazilian leader, since her approval ratings are at a record low. She needs a successful visit and U.S.’s support to push away the discredit her government currently faces. The biggest deliverable of the visit is to rebuild trust, but the biggest uncertainty is if the political drama that Rousseff is facing in Brasilia will allow her a happy ending.

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A false war fades: the end of Brazil-Mexico rivalry?

Paulo Sotero and Duncan Wood – Financial Times, 6/10/2015

Paulo-Sotero-and-Duncan-Wood

For much of the past two decades, Brazil and Mexico seemed at times to be on a collision course. Diplomats from Latin America’s two largest nations were often preoccupied,if not obsessed, with a competition for an elusive role as regional leaders and players in the post-Cold War shifting global scene. The 2013 battle for the post of director general at the World Trade Organization, won by Brazilian diplomat Roberto Azevêdo over Mexican Herminio Blanco, a former trade minister, left plenty of hurt feelings. Ironically, the dispute for influence also led to convergence. The 2011 creation of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean Nations (CELAC), proposed by Mexico to affirm its Latin American identity and counter a perceived Brazilian effort to separate it from the region, was warmly embraced in Brasília as a way project leadership by promoting formats that excluded the US.

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Brazil graft cases: beginning of impunity’s end?

Brad Brooks – AP/The Washington Post, 12/19/2014

A federal investigation into a kickback scheme at Brazil’s state oil company has, so far, ensnared 30 executives. In Sao Paulo, prosecutors accuse 33 businessmen of running a “cartel” to profit from the city’s subway system.

And in perhaps the most stunning turn of all, the oil and mining tycoon who once was Brazil’s richest billionaire is on trial for something that, until recently, was not even seen as a crime: profiting from inside information.The aggressive crackdown on corruption by Brazil’s rich and powerful suddenly raises a once unfathomable question: Is this the beginning of the end for the nation’s entrenched culture of impunity?

Brazil Institute Director leads a National Geographic conversation of experts on Brazil’s Energy Challenge

Director Paulo Sotero opened and moderated an event entitled, “Big Energy Question: What Does the Future Hold for Brazil’s Energy Picture?” in São Paulo last week. Topics discussed included hydroelectric power, urban planning, biofuels, energy security, and more. See the article below:

In Sao Paulo, Experts Eye the Future for Brazil’s Energy Mix

David Braun – National Geographic, 11/18/2014

Brazil is a vast country of abundant natural resources, and Brazilians are anxious both to preserve irreplaceable habitats and fulfill their potential to contribute significantly to global energy and food supply. Finding the right balance is crucial, not just to Brazil but to the world, and much rests on determining the right energy mix.

In Sao Paulo last week, some of Brazil’s foremost thought leaders on energy engaged in a candid and passionate debate revolving around Brazil’s unique situation, discussing the opportunities and challenges of powering the country’s future.

Participants acknowledged the need to learn from past mistakes and push through current complications. Suggested solutions focused on Brazil’s ability to establish an especially diverse energy mix that could place a range of renewable energy sources at the heart of a global energy economy. This would require radical changes in policy, process and popular opinion, as well as the need to urgently address widespread inefficiencies across the energy sector. But there was unanimous hope and determination in the group for in getting it right.

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Brazilians to elect a new president in an atypically sour mood

Paulo Sotero – The Brazil Institute, 10/24/2014

With their country’s economy at a standstill, Brazilians go back to the polls this Sunday in an atypically sour mood to decide whether to extend the mandate of President Dilma Rousseff for four more years or replace her with Senator Aécio Neves, a popular former governor of Minas Gerais, Brazil’s second richest state after São Paulo. Opinion polls released this week showed Rousseff gaining on Neves for the first time, who pulled a stunning turnaround to end in second place in the October 5th first round of vote, way ahead of once favorite candidate, environmentalist Marina Silva. Failures in first round opinion polls were made. However, the unusual volatility of the race even made analysts that seemed convinced of Rousseff’s reelection hedge their bets by avoiding making definitive predictions. One pollster who worked for campaigns of gubernatorial candidates of the president’s coalition told former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva at a rally held in the Southern capital of Porto Alegre on Wednesday that his analyses indicated Aécio Neves could win the race.

Three weeks of second round campaigning that ended Friday, October 24th, with a nationally televised debate between the two contenders did little to lighten the poisonous political atmosphere created in the race’s initial 40-days of highly negative electoral tactics used by all major candidates, but especially by Rousseff’s camp. Continue reading “Brazilians to elect a new president in an atypically sour mood”

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