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Brazzil - Foreign Relations - August 2004

Brazil Now Wants to Change the World

After a government-financed campaign whose motto was "The
Best of Brazil Is the Brazilian," the Lula administration is
turning its gaze overseas. The new motto now is "We Can."
President Lula says that he wants to show the world, that an
affectionate gesture can do more than cannons and machine guns.

Mylena Fiori


Picture Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva called on the wealthy nations to assume responsibility for the reconstruction of Haiti. "It isn't possible to talk of peace in a country that lacks social justice," Lula remarked, August 9, in São Paulo, at a ceremony to inaugurate Citizenship and Solidarity Week.

Lula affirmed that he will request the United Nations to conduct an in-depth assessment of Haiti's minimal requirements in terms of economic growth, "so that we can start traveling around the world, talking to countries, and asking for help."

Lula will travel to Haiti on August 15 with the Brazilian National Soccer Team. "We shall take the Brazilian Team there, because the Haitians adore Brazilian soccer. It is a gesture we want to show the world, that not everything demands cannons, machine guns, and weapons of mass destruction. At times an affectionate gesture is worth a lot more than certain wars."

World Plan

Four years ago, a total of 191 countries signed the Millennium Declaration, which establishes eight goals to be reached by 2015. If achieved, there will be a worldwide reduction in poverty and inequalities, besides making sustainable development more possible.

To discuss those goals, analyze what has been done and what still remains to be done, Brazil is promoting the first Citizenship and Solidarity Week.

"We want to remind people of the existence of the goals and make them aware of what they are," explains Oded Grajew, one of the leaders of the event and president of the Ethos Institute. "This is something that has never been done before in the world," says Grajew, adding that he sees it as an example for others.

To celebrate Citizenship and Solidarity Week, there will be events nationwide. The event's motto is "We Can!" and it is to be accompanied by a publicity campaign that will emphasis "Eight Ways to Change the World."

The eight goals in the Millennium Declaration are: eradicate hunger and misery, provide everyone with quality basic education, promote gender equality and protect women's rights, reduce infant mortality rates, improve healthcare for pregnant women, combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases, increase quality of life and respect the environment while working for development.

Brazil's Leadership

Brazil has a vital leadership role to play in the fulfillment of the so-called goals of the millenium. This was the assessment made by Carlos Lopes, representative of the United Nations Development Program in Brazil.

"It is important for Brazil to continue leading the developing countries in the struggle for the goals of the millenium, and President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva has an essential role in this," Lopes affirmed on August 9, in São Paulo, at the opening of National Citizenship and Solidarity Week

Lopes emphasized the relevance of the eight development goals of the millenium, set forth by the UN in 2000 and approved by 191 countries. The goals form a set of eight major targets to meet by 2015, through concrete steps by governments and society on behalf of the elimination of poverty, reduction of inequalities, and commitment to the sustainability of the planet. "For the first time there exists a consensus that poverty is everybody's problem," he said.

Oded Grajew, president of the Ethos Institute for Social Responsibility and one of the leaders of the movement for citizenship and solidarity in the country, also underscored Brazil's importance on the world stage for the fulfillment of the goals of the millenium.

"Brazil has all it takes to be the major ethical and social leader of the planet, the country that will guide the world to other values," he affirmed.

Fighting Slave Labor

Brazil's Public Interest Defense Ministry for Labor (MPT) received a donation of equipment from the International Labor Organization (ILO), giving a boost to its activities to combat slave-like labor.

The material includes portable computers and printers, which will expedite the inspections carried out by the MPT as part of the operations of the mobile group to eliminate slave-like labor.

According to the Solicitor-General for Labor, Sandra Lia Simón, the material is indispensable for MPT technicians to do their job.

The donation is part of a total of US$ 40 thousand in material offered by the ILO to the Mobile Inspection Group to Combat Slave-like Labor, in which the MPT participates.

The coordinator of the ILO's Project to Combat Slave-like Labor, Patrícia Audi, explains that this donation is in acknowledgement of all the efforts made by the Ministry of Labor, the MPT, and the Brazilian State to combat slave-like labor during the nine years in which the mobile group has existed.

"Nowadays, Brazil is an international reference in the fight against slave-like labor. Not only on account of the creation of this mobile group, but also because of the measures that have been taken with respect to this issue," Audi points out.

According to her, the ILO has been backing and encouraging the programs carried out in Brazil. "The organization earmarked US$ 1.7 million for the project initiated in April, 2002, to combat slave-like labor in Brazil," the ILO coordinator stated. "Countless activities are envisioned in this project, which acts in partnership with Brazilian society," she added.

Alessandra Bastos works for Agência Brasil (AB), the official press agency of the Brazilian government. Comments are welcome at lia@radiobras.gov.br.
Translated from the Portuguese by David Silberstein.

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