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Colin Powell Visits Brazil, But Why? PDF Print E-mail
2004 - October 2004
Written by John Fitzpatrick   
Tuesday, 12 October 2004 07:40

I recently took the presumptuous step on behalf of the Brazilian people of inviting President George W. Bush to visit Brazil, in the form of an open letter. Until now I have received no reply.

This is not surprising since Mr. Bush has other priorities at the moment, including getting himself re-elected by the American people.

In my letter I complained about the lack of interest Mr. Bush had shown in Brazil and Latin America in general during almost four years in the White House.

I also expressed my disappointment at his failure to send some of his top staff, such as vice president Dick Cheney, secretary of state, Colin Powell, or national security adviser, Condoleezza Rice, to visit us.

So, it came as a pleasant surprise two weeks ago to receive a press release from the American embassy in Brasília announcing that Powell would visit Brazil in the second week of October.

I was too modest to think that my jibes had persuaded Bush to send his Foreign Minister here but I thought that if anyone could break the ice it would be Powell.

Although Powell has backed the Bush administration’s policies on Iraq, he was initially reluctant to support the invasion and subsequent occupation.

He is seen as a “nice” guy who doesn’t try to hector or bully other countries to toe the Washington line. His background is in the military so presumably he is a man of principle and discipline and not a weasel-like politician. 

In many ways, he seemed the perfect person to try and mend the strained relations between the two largest nations in the Americas.

Limp Handshake

Unfortunately the visit, which lasted less than two days, was so fleeting and flimsy that one cannot help but wonder why Powell came and what he thought he had achieved.

He had a meeting with Lula at which nothing of any substance was discussed or decided. Nothing was said officially about the most important outstanding issue between the two countries – the proposed establishment of the Free Trade Area of the Americas.

This was a golden opportunity to try and get this crucial matter back on track but it appears that neither side was interested.

We can look forward to more squabbles and name-calling and be sure that the FTAA will not come about in January 2005 as was originally intended.

Powell later made some conciliatory comments about the host nation’s longstanding desire to become a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council and described Brazil as a “leading candidate”.

However, this comment was made in response to a question raised at a meeting of the US-Brazilian Chamber of Commerce in São Paulo and did not form part of any kind of initiative.

Powell was merely being diplomatic and made it clear that the Bush administration would not be making any efforts to help this come about. This issue was part of any future general reform of the UN, he said. 

He also showed no concern about Brazil becoming a nuclear power, despite a row between the Brazilian government and the International Atomic Energy Agency over the Agency’s desire to inspect a nuclear enriching plant.

He told us that while the US was concerned about North Korea and Iran, it was certain that Brazil was not thinking of developing nuclear arms. 

Presumably this means that people in the town of Resende in Rio de Janeiro state, which contains the nuclear fuel enrichment plant, can sleep safely at night without worrying about being bombed in their beds by American planes.

Role Model for Black and Mulatto Youngsters

Perhaps the most successful part of Powell’s visit was a trip he made to a social project for poor children and teenagers, which is partly funded by an American multinational.

Many of the children were black or mulatto, as Powell would be regarded in Brazil. These children have few role models, apart from footballers like Pelé and Robinho, athletes like Daiane dos Santos, and, of course, singers and dancers.

Powell gave them a pep talk. He spoke of his boyhood, as the son of Jamaican immigrants in New York, and his first job cleaning floors in a Pepsi plant.

He reminded them that only 30 years it would have been impossible to have a black US secretary of state and he encouraged them to do their best in shaping their own lives.

It is rare for black children in Brazil to see one of their own in a position of authority. Lula’s Workers Party government has done little to change this. It has only one leading mulatto member, the culture minister Gilberto Gil, who was not present at Powell’s visit.

Lula, for his part, made no effort to make Powell’s trip worthwhile. It could be that Lula feels it is not worth trying to improve relations since Bush may be defeated in the presidential elections in November.

The American President’s unimpressive performances against Democrat candidate, John Kerry, in the two debates held so far and the damning evidence that Iraq had no weapons of mass destruction may prove his downfall.

However, the chances are that Bush will win and Brazil will have to continue to cooperate with him for the next four years. If so, we can look forward to the continuation of the current limp friendship between the two largest democracies in the Americas.

From Russia with Love

Meanwhile it was interesting to note that Lula and the Russian President, Vladimir Putin, have had a telephone conversation. According to the Itar-Tass news agency the two presidents discussed some pressing issues of bilateral cooperation in the context of the preparations for the Russian President’s visit to Brazil, which will be the first in the history of Russian-Brazilian relations.

Tass said the telephone conversation had been initiated by the Brazilian side. Putin is due here shortly. Presumably Lula will roll out the red carpet for him in a way he did not do for Powell.

John Fitzpatrick is a Scottish journalist who first visited Brazil in 1987 and has lived in São Paulo since 1995. He writes on politics and finance and runs his own company, Celtic Comunicações——which specializes in editorial and translation services for Brazilian and foreign clients. You can reach him at

© John Fitzpatrick 2004

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Comments (23)Add Comment
What to do about Brasil
written by Guest, December 27, 2004
First of all I would like to commend Colin Powell for visiting Brasil. Yes, if black Americans identified with the black and mixed population in Brasil than U.S. Policy toward Brasil would change overnight. This is why there is so little information on the demographics and people of Brasil here in the U.S. I think both the government of Brasil and the U.S. government could do a better job in this regard. I would say that the trip by Colin Powell was his ideal and not George Bush's. That's why his stay was so short. Colin Powell has never had Geoge Bush's support because Bush is worried that Powell would one day show him up. Bush has igorned Brasil since he has been in office. One of reason is that the administration does not know what to do with Brasil. Brasil is the fifth largest country in the world, has more natural resources than the U.S. and Mexico, has a stronge independent leader in Lula, is the only strong voice in Latin America and Lula has a good relationship with Castro. Unlike President Fox of Mexico Lula has repeatly voiced dismay at U.S. policy toward Latin America. Lula has also been critical of Fox because he has caved into the U.S. If Fox was as strong has Lula the U.S. would have better ties with Brasil. Believe me United States business has invested in Brasil big time and the U.S. government knows that Brasil has potential to become the leader in Latin America. The U.S. does not want this to happen so George Bush made a visit to Chile (a big country??) last month. 40% of the people in Latin America live in Brasil -- the U.S. knows that but does not know what to do about Brasil.
Wrong ideology
written by Guest, January 05, 2005
President Bush was re-elected by conservatives that don't want to empower socialists who want to undermine the well-being of the American people. Bush shouldn't sellout those of us who elected him. If Brazilians want good relations with the US, they should elect a Conservative government.
wrong ideology?
written by Guest, January 07, 2005
I'm a brasilian.
The Lula government is conservative, however more open to new relationships.
In Brasil, the difference between the left wing and the right wing is much little, all they are rich managements or farmers.
Just because the white-house don't wanna buy our things the other countries need to don't buy our things.
It's what the USA says: if you don't wanna sell to us, sell to any other, it's what the Brasil government is doing.
It's funny see the people that just knows the neighboorhood which lives talking about the culture of another nations smilies/smiley.gif
comments: [please, identify yourself smilies/smiley.gif ]
written by Guest, January 26, 2005
written by Guest, March 14, 2005
Can you please send name of parents
written by Guest, May 14, 2005
lula is too slow. or maybe all those guys are. too bad i didnt see colin cause he is a nice man. Now.. i didnt read all but later i read peace
written by Guest, July 12, 2005
I agree with the remark 2005-03-14 11:14;46, It appears to me that it is only a SMALL portion of Brasilians who 'say' they do not like the US. I would not say that it is a large group.
Recently I was talking to a student of some obviously SOCIALIST person who was taught some VERY incorrect things about the USA, specifically that only 20% of the students in the US WANT to stay in school, while 80% of Chinese WANT to stay in school. WHAT GARBAGE ! Besides, WHO CARES who WANTS to stay in school, MORE importantly is the students WHO STAY THERE and study. I guarantee you that this figure is the HIGHEST in the world. The US did not get to be the MOST educated population by going to the beach !
SO, obviously there are teachers in Brasil who are passing off LIES and MIS-INFORMATION about the US to unsuspecting Brasilian students who are so naive they believe this TRASH. I don't blame the students because they obviously respect their teachers, but I blame the teachers who TRY TO SELL THEIR OWN AGENDA , despite the FACTS.
AGAIN, let me repeat the other writers comments, IF LULA IS SO ANTI-AMERICAN, LET him go to CHAVES or CASTRO the next time he needs money to bail his ass out. WHERE DO THEY GO FIRST WHEN IN TROUBLE, to the US.
ISN'T THIS a little like the terrorists who crashed planes into the Trade Center 9/11 ? Those terrorists WERE AGAINST THE WAYS OF THE US, BUT they lived in the US for at least a year LIVING A LIFESTYLE like an American; drinking at bars, hiring prostitutes, etc. WHAT HIPPOCRITES, ONLY when exposed for what these people ARE REALLY ABOUT, will anyone understand that this attitude is one of HATE and JEALOUSY towards anyone who has MORE than they do. IT HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH religion, ONLY HATE AND JEALOUSY.
While only 50% of Americans support BUSH, a lot of others surely don't agree with a lot of things going on. ONE THING IS CLEAR THOUGH, the American PEOPLE are NOT the same thing as the American GOV'T.
The American GOV'T goals may not be clear but I think it is TRYING to promote a safe, educated, peaceful and more Democratic WORLD.
IF YOU have another agenda, DON'T COME CRYING to the US when everything turns to s**t and YOU NEED YOUR ASS BAILED OUT AGAIN.

Brazil; in the future, shall be much mo
written by Guest, October 11, 2005
Ok, let me just say this before I start talking, I lived in the US for 5 years, and obviusly I did not like it and made the decision to come back here. I agree, Lula is just simply an ignorant, thats why most people here are wanting an inpeachment, one reason for this because of so much corruption, the otehr reason because there is a threat that he might want to change our government into communism, now, before you critisise our people just by our president, you should look at your president who sent thousands of people into a fictional war thats only purpose is to lower tha prices over oil in iraq, our teachers ( i mean all the ones i´ve studied) never once siad anything anti US, although i am against many of things your country does. Such as the poor and horrible education that they give there (honestly... ), racial problems, and your ridiculized anti- hurricane programs. Why doesnt bush a little about politics and stop being so stuck up, ignorance...
Collin Powell in the Paradise.
written by Guest, December 15, 2005
Reply to the postig from the guest in
Guest on 2004-12-27 11:15:28.

What to do about Brasil ?
Are you a jerk or what. The answer lies in front of you.

What to do? Nuke them assoles back to stone age specially the politicians.
written by Guest, April 27, 2006
What to do about Brasil ?
written by Guest, June 01, 2006
The coments by above Red Neck Idiote like many usa stupid who tinks that Brazil is next to Mexico is absolutly patetic,they gone receive whot they deserve from ther lider ha,ha,ha.....
written by Guest, June 01, 2006
Hi is only very SMART only the full and stupid one like usa polises,open you I bolls.
Re: Brasil wake up
written by Guest, June 06, 2006

U.S. poverty rate rises to 12.7

Overall, there 37 million people living in poverty, up 1.1 million people from 2003.

" Most of the growth in economy over last couple of years has gone to heigher income people and has taken the form of capital income -- interest, rents, dividends." 08/30/2005

Are poor people in the States better off than poor people in Brazil?

Are American slums fancier, differently from Brazilian ones?

Are miserables in America happy?

Are 37 million people a low figure?

written by Guest, June 06, 2006
" We do deserts, not mountains. "
By Lisa ShawPerigee Book
New York, N.Y.
Pres. Lula is anti-American.
written by Guest, June 06, 2006
Some Americans are anti-America. They are doing a crazy game that brings them power over other citizens. It is easy passing judgement on people in other countries, but it seems you are too close to America to be able to "see" it.
On June 25th, 1876 General George Custer received information that a significant number of indians were gathering at Little Big Horn. Without analyzing the facts, he decided to ride out with 250 men to "surround" almost 3000 indians.
130 years later, you have another George as a guide. If you read Newsweek magazine
this June, 2006, you will find:

"America is going down the tubes, he says (Jeffrey Immelt, CEO of GE ), and the worst part is nobody knows it.
You can also read - " We can expand our science programs and we should -- but we will never be able to compete with India and China in the production of engineers. G.Custer didn´t look for facts
before acting. Will you... before writing?
american observer
written by Guest, June 15, 2006
written by Anderson, September 06, 2006
bush doesnt get along with many people not just brazil
and lula has to stop being a "jerk" and stop complainning about every little thing the U.S. does
Lula is a biut arrogant and i hope he never wins the re election
we need a democracy that enforces the law 100% and he couldnt change it
so i say Lula out. we need a brazil who everyone is treated equal and where tcorrupt get punished severely like how they do to any poor person.
im sure that after law enforcement comes in Brazil will be a much better place
written by Anderson, September 06, 2006
i like americans, i mean mostly the chicks because most of them are into foreigners since the american male is normaly an a*****e who is brainwashed and thinks he is smarter than everyone else while foreigners who make it to america or other countries end up getting scholarships since their knowledge is better than that of most americans. americans are just dumb, and they only like each other and that will never change.
if america was a poor country the world would bomb it casuse no one can stand such stuck up people who think only good of themselvs
Bachelor on Law
written by Demetrios Agronopoulos, October 04, 2006
The book is not on the table, !! - Where is the book, ?? - I don't know, !!
(Ask Mr. Potato about the book destination...)
Poor American Struggling to survive
written by Kitty, September 14, 2008
I have read most of these posts. I am a non-racist human being who just wants to see peace in the world so my children do not have to see war and chaos. The attitudes from the individuals who have posted here are varying and some quite scarey.I only know about some countries through the media here in the United States. Do I believe most of what the media says or tries to teach? NO. Do I see war happening in many countries? YES. Do I think that my American Government is trying to play God to the world? YES Do I agree with that agenda? NO. What other people in other countries hear and say about us average American citizens who are just trying to survive is very saddening.

I do not know much about Brazil except the gorgeous beaches and tropical climates, and now after taking an international business course and studying Brazil as a possible export country I know more that I did before. Brazilians are just like many Americans, just trying to survive and feed their families and getting screwed over by their government in some fashion or another. So why can't we all just get along and not say something unless we know it is the truth? I have only lived in the United States and visited England once. I have plans to visit many other countries before I die If I can afford to do so. Are these nations that I visit going to talk trash about me while saying thank you after I pay them for whatever services I received? Maybe. Are they going to wish I was dead because I am an American while accepting my money? Probably.

What I am getting at here is: People are ignorant, dumbasses who are taught to believe certains things by their parents and leaders. What they are being taught may be completely hateful, untruthful and down right wrong. This is why we have such issues with racism in the United States. What we see through the media is all we know about countries like Brazil, Iraq, etc. I guarantee there will be some Iraq refugees who come into the United States next year, on my tax dollars, getting everything from housing, cars and education, handed to them for free because we feel sorry for them. What about my children's education and housing and living situations? I can't even afford to buy food for my family because I don't make crap and I am doing this alone, without a husband. Does the American government give a crap about me? NO. Do they care that my children might have to go hungry because I had to pay the rent in order to not become homeless? NO. Or do we have to become homeless because I won't let my kids starve? President Bush, and whoever ends up in his seat in 2009 will do the same thing as all the other presidents have done in the past. Talk their BS just to get our votes then screw us all over. Do Brazilians have similar issues like myself? Probably. Do they do the best they can while taking it up the butt for their government? Probably. Do not hate me because I am an American stuck in political/controlling bullcrap. I am human and I bleed just the same as the rest of you. Humans think they are so much greater beings on this planet, yet we are the ones destroying the planet and each other. A cow treats the world better than humans. Good luck to all of you who are just trying to make it through this life. I wish the best for you and your families regardless of where you live or where you are from.
Colin Powel role model?
written by rgds, November 25, 2008
"Role Model for Black and Mulatto Youngsters

Perhaps the most successful part of Powell’s visit was a trip he made to a social project for poor children and teenagers, which is partly funded by an American multinational. "

I suppose, as long as when the Mulatto children grow up they realise that Colin Powell deliberately and knowingly lied to the UN Security Council about the threat Saddam posed, claiming that he had WMDs and showing them fabricated evidence, resulting in the Iraq invasion and the death of a few hundred thousand little poor children and poisening all Iraq with depleted uranium ammunitions which will now cause the rest of the population illnesses, cancers, and early deaths for a 100 years in the region, including 100 fold increas in birth defects and lots of impoverished malnutrition mentally retarded poor children.

But Heck, I suppose he made up for all that with his visit to the social project for poor children in Brasil - good little Catholic children, not like them muslim children.
"500,000 dead Iraqis is a small price to pay for Saddam's capture" - Collin Powell
Powell 100 times bigger "war criminal" than Saddam
written by rgds, November 25, 2008

For all those of you who don't keep an eye on history. The mainstream media does a good job of memory-holing facts and reality for its audience.

When the tough gets going, just play some Paris Hilton footage.

500000 misquote
written by rgds, November 25, 2008
it wasn't Colin Powell on record saying it.
Quite a few officials are on record saying it about Gulf War and the Un Sanctions - UN said that they led to the death of more than 500,000 children.

Madeline Albright said it, Condi Rice said it.

And here New Mexico Governor Bill Richard said it:
The American mainstream population, but particularly their puppet leaders, are mentally ill. The American people will pay a heavy price for these wars of aggression. I don't think brasil will forget the CIA economic hitmen either.

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