Obama Hasn’t Kept Promises on Latin America, Says Brazil’s Lula

Barack Obama Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, the president of Brazil, claims that his American counterpart, Barack Obama, has forgotten about Latin America after having promised a new relation with the continent. He also revealed he was working for a meeting between Venezuela's Hugo Chavez and Colombia's Alvaro Uribe "so they can address their differences".

Brazil's financial newspaper Valor reproduces some extracts from Lula's presentation on Brazilian foreign policy with the Financial Times editors during breakfast in London.

According to Lula, following the Americas Summit last April in Trinidad and Tobago when Obama promised a new relation with Latin America, the US president simply forgot about the region.

"I told Obama after the meeting that he had given the kick off to establish a more productive relation with Latin America. The fact is nothing happened since, but the coup in Honduras," pointed out the Brazilian leader.

But he also understands Obama, "with concerns over Iraq and Afghanistan and the health scheme in Congress, it doesn't leave much time to address Latin America."

"But I consider very important that the United States should have more interest in Latin America so we can definitively implement a dynamics of peace and links with the continent," said the president of Brazil.

During breakfast with editors from the Financial Times who organized a seminar on Brazil, Lula was critical of the recent military cooperation agreement signed between Colombia and the US and again strongly demanded guarantees that operations will be limited to Colombian territory.

"We were surprised by the transfer of military bases from Manta, in Ecuador to Colombia," admitted Lula.

"We are not questioning Colombia's sovereignty but we demand that in the agreement signed with the US, it's explicit, that we want international law guarantees; that those bases as a matter of principle will operate inside Colombian and not along border areas with neighboring countries."

Regarding Washington's concerns with Venezuela's president Hugo Chavez, Lula said it was reciprocal: "I don't know if the US should be concerned about Chavez or if Chavez should be concerned about the US. One position fuels the other."

As to differences between Colombia and Venezuela and the alleged threats from Chavez to close the border with its neighbor and ban bilateral trade, the Brazilian chief of state said that "you can't do politics from media headlines."

Complementation and interdependency of the two economies is above headlines policies. "How do you stop people along the border trading?"

However he was hopeful that President Chavez will end reaching an understanding with his peer Colombian Alvaro Uribe, for which he is trying to organize a meeting of the two leaders next November 26 in Manaus, capital of the Brazilian northern state of Amazonas.

Lula has invited all Amazon basin countries to a regional summit ahead of the Climate conference in Copenhagen next December.

Finally he recalled that he recently had dinner with Chavez and lunch with Uribe, and "I'm sure I can get them to sit together in Manaus."

Mercopress

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