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  • Brazil’s New President: U.S. Ally or Rival?

    On October 31, 2010, Brazilian voters elected that country’s first female president: Dilma Rouseff. Ms. Rouseff of the leftist Workers’ Party defeated her Center-Right rival Jose Serra by a margin of 56 percent to 44 percent of the votes cast. A former leftist guerilla turned technocrat, Ms. Rouseff was chief of staff to outgoing President Luiz Inácio Lula da Siva. This is her first elected post.

    Ms. Rouseff glided into presidential office on a crest of optimism generated by the policy successes and popularity of Lula, Brazil’s popular president. With an over 80% approval rating, Lula has overseen eight years of nearly uninterrupted economic growth, substantial poverty reduction and an expanded if sometimes ambiguous role for Brazil on the global stage.

    Of fundamental interest to Washington will be Rouseff’s future role as foreign policy leader. While Brazil has played a positive role in Haiti, and promised action on climate change and protection of the Amazon, it has also sparred with Washington. Observers have begun to ask questions regarding the inner character and moral compass of Brazil’s leadership. As a democracy will Brazil stand with it natural democratic allies—the U.S., Europe, Japan—on governance and human rights issues? Will it speak out when others are repressed and democracy is trampled?

    In the Americas, the Obama Administration and Lula’s government have fenced over issues such as Honduras, Cuba, and the U.S.-Colombia Defense Agreement. In South America, Brazil has done little to speak out on the muggings of democracy in Hugo Chavez’s Venezuela.

    As former Mexican foreign minister Jorge G. Castaneda noted: Brazil has been too cozy with Cuba, Venezuela and Iran, not questioning the jailing of political opponents, crackdowns on journalism or electoral fraud. It has, according to the Inter-American Dialogue, a “warm, uncritical relationship with Iran and other oppressive regimes.”

    Last May, the Obama Administration received a rude awakening when Lula and Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan brokered a failed nuclear fuel swap with Iran and voted against U.N. sanctions aim at curbing Iran’s quest for a nuclear weapon. Railed The New York Times editorialist Thomas Friedman: “Is there anything uglier than watching democrats sell out other democrats to a Holocaust-denying, vote-stealing Iranian thug just to tweak the U.S. and show that they, to, can playat the big power table?”

    Will winner Rouseff, once a victim of the repression in a military regime, continue the Lula track and cozy up to the likes of Admadinejad, Chavez, and the Castro brothers? If she does, then Washington, Brasilia, and global democracy will be the losers.

    Posted in International [slideshow_deploy]

    10 Responses to Brazil’s New President: U.S. Ally or Rival?

    1. Rodrigo, Brazil says:

      Hi Mr. Walser. Great article. It's always good to see our conservative fellows abroad pay attention to what's happening here.

      Allow me just to dispute that the runner-up Serra was a center-right candidate. His party, PSDB, is a leftist (center-left at best) party, and Serra himself has an extensive biography that certainly places him on the left side.

      We, the Brazilian right, supported him because he represented the "lesser evil" here, but the truth is that we haven't got a conservative party here that would deserve the name.

    2. Fred Ferreira, Washi says:

      It is a interesting article, nonetheless, I have a comment on the signs that Dilma has already showed. She has signaled her intention of keeping Amorim as the head of the foreign ministry, which would mean going deeper into the rabbit hole of developing uncritical relationship with dictators. She lacks the clout of Lula, but the path will be the same.

      Additionally, I fully support Rodrigo's point on Serra. He is center-left at best. Dilma, without a doubt, is a hard-leftist. The absence of a true right-wing political movement in Brazil, doesn't transform the center-left into center-right.

    3. Delores Smith - Mesa says:

      RAY WALSER – Excellent Article – Thank you…

      Brazil had better be an ally of the United States. George Soros sent Brazil $1,000,000 for deep shore oil drilling, followed by Obama…who sent $2,000,000,000 (2B) for the same purpose. Obama's administristion stated, "It is time to redistribute the wealth from the Northern Globe to the Southern Globe." Obama did this during his moratorium on the Gulf States, taking away the wealth from the Gulf States. An oil company at the Gulf moved on to Brazil.

      Delores Smith Delores109@cox.net

    4. Renatto, Brazil says:

      When "uncle" Bush told me "there is nukes in Iraq" I (and millions of Brazilians) just believed blindly on him.

      Afterall, we are alies…

      ALIES? This is so true we fought world war I and II (almost in Korea and Vietnam). Brazil was the only Latin American country that participated effectively in the First and Second World Wars.

      Hell! We Brazilians are always believing in US.

      "In US we respect Civil rights, (so lets torture people in other places like Guantanamo or Iraq".

      "Iraq can walk alone without US help!" Let's this arabs kill each other in a nasty civil war…

      Tell me: How many war US was involved in the last century? There is a full decade of peace?

      Brazil do not hate America or Americans, we are not Mexicans…

      Another important question:

      Nukes are a 60 year old secret. How long US believe in keeping suspetc countries away from nukes? Will US bomb all countries with nukes capabilities?

      Yeah, we must find other options…

      • Ron says:

        Brazil provides a safe haven for war criminals and then rides the fence wit Iran and other non-allys; Brazilians are like the French except are the Latin; sit back wait then exploit those who trust in you — go figure. Brazil quick to rise with thoughts of greed and quick to fall.

    5. Camila Silva, Brazil says:

      Brazil chose Dilma because they believe she will truly continue Lula's policies that have improved Brazil's economy and life quality for many people.Entrepreneurs have had great success during his government with record unemployment rates. Serra was behind the poor decisions to privatize many Brazilian companies and was also a mediocre Health Minister. He is the classic career-oriented politician, he never truly did a good job for most of people in Sao Paulo while governor or mayor. He chose to privatize the health sector and the education system even more. He's involved in 17 lawsuits at the moment, three of them are for misuse of public budget so corruption is everywhere in Brazil. If you compare unemployment rates, it's obvious Lula's government is better and therefore, people chose Dilma. Pretty logical.

    6. awatertree, Atlanta says:

      Brazil correctly distrusts the United States on the issue of Iran given the deja-vu from the drumbeats preceding the catastrophic Iraq war. To most in Latin America, the US is viewed with distrust given several unscrupulous interventions so it is hardly seen as the shining city on a hill the Heritage Foundation believes it is.

      With regards to Delores Smith's comments, the $2b was for the export of American equipment to Petrobras. Given the United States owes over $165b to Brazil in Treasuries, I would call it a pretty awful "redistribution". But the typical misinformation constantly repeated by US media propaganda.

    7. Eduardo says:

      Mr. Walser just to let you and the "former Mexican foreign minister Jorge G. Castaneda" know, when Brazil and Turkey stroke a deal with Iran, something that the "superpowers" would never achieve( for the simple fact that noone trust them), it was only in an attempt to avoid a senseless and lies based war as the ones going on in Iraq and Afghanistan, where the human rights champions of the world killed, tortured, raped and mutilated, so far, more than five million innocent people. That's not mentioning the US drones bombing and killing innocent civilians in Pakistan, Nigeria and Yemen or Guantanamo Bay. And by the way, Japan is no example to anybody since it's an occupied country since WWII.

      And concerning to the Mexican "ex", if he knew anything, his country wouldn't be in such a mess. He would know that Ahmadinejad won and wouldn't ignore the fact that Ahmadinejad’s 62.6% of the vote in 2009 year’s election was essentially the same as the 61.69% he received in the final count of the 2005 presidential election. If you want to talk about election's fraud lets mention an american candidate, George Bush!

      Now will you please tell me about the US "coziness" to Saudi Arabia a regime far more oppressive than Iran? Or with Hosni Mubarack, Egypt's eternal president? How about war criminal Israel?

      The US has repeatedly acted to undermine peace and human rights initiatives

      at the United Nations, routinely voting against hundreds of UN resolutions

      and treaties. The US easily has the worst record of any nation on not

      supporting UN treaties. US Is 1 of Only 2 "No" Votes on Resolutions or Treaties

      For Palestinian living conditions/rights (at least 8 times).

      Are you sure that you want to go bashing Brazil and it's decisions? Why Americans always seat on their tail( to hide it) and points to somebody else's tail?

      I suggest you take a deeper and closer look inside your own country. Fix up your own house and then go about criticizing other countries. And bye the way, did you know that Brazil(this is going to shock you) is the 4th biggest Us creditor? It would be nice if you used your talents as a writer to put some pressure in your government to pay the almost U$ 200 billion it owe us!!

      Sorry I almost forgot, as you wrote:"winner Rouseff, once a victim of the repression in a military regime", you just forgot to mention that, such regime was implanted in Brazil by the US

      • Anthony Middleton says:

        If you truly believe that Iran is less oppressive than Saudi Arabia, your an idiot. Bush might not have been that good of a president, but at least he DID get legally elected. You shouldn't talk, since it took your country 200 years to become a democracy, and the U.S. didn't even get involved in your country until the latter half of the twentieth century. And if your country was a superpower instead of a third rate power, maybe you would understant why we have to sometimes be friends with corrupt dictators. Not to mentiont the fact that many UN human rights initiatives are purposely designed to weaken U.S. nationaly security by anti american third world dictatorships. Also, the number of people killed or injured in Iraq is far less thatn five million, its barely one million, and we didnt kill ninety percent of them, the terrorists did. And its hard not to kill civilians when Terrorists use them as human shields. Its so easy for you to judge when your country hasnt actually fought in any wars besides ones where you were killing your own people, and you only provided paltry assistance in either of the world wars. And the U.S. hasnt occupied Japan since 1950, get your damn facts right.

    8. Anthony Middleton says:

      Just like in china, the Brazillian government hasnt actually loned us any money, just bought treassury bills, which means that they bassically own stock in the U.S. treasury, and cant actually demand any money back. And maybe we wont support a military dictatorship next time if your stupid people dont try to put a communist in power. Just because someone promises your people free crap, doesnt mean that you should vote for them. And Ahmadinadjad did not win either election, he was chosen by the mullahs to be president and then some of his opponents votes were conveniantly lost by the government.

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