Thomas Shannon, the new United States ambassador to Brazil, presented his credentials to Brazilian president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva Thursday morning and later in the afternoon spoke to the media.
Shannon, who has served as a diplomat for many years in Latin America, in Guatemala where his wife is from and both Brazil and Venezuela, declared without hiding his emotion, that he was proud and happy to be back in Brazil where he was an assistant to the ambassador between 1989 and 1992 and where his youngest son was born.
As for Venezuela, without any direct criticism, he pointed out that the country was going through a difficult time and that the best way to deal with the situation was by dialogue. “Rather than repression, make room for the voice of the people to be heard,” he said. The Caracas government has already responded to that calling it “gross interference” in their domestic affairs.
With regard to Honduras, Shannon explained that it was the hope in Washington that Brazil would participate in the effort to reintegrate that country into the Organization of American States and normalize relations. “We see acceptance of the Porfirio Lobo administration as a way out of the crisis…” the US diplomat said.
On trade and politics, Shannon was cautious. He said he hoped differences would not predominate over convergence, and not have a bad effect on bilateral relations. He said that it seemed possible to avoid a Brazilian retaliation against the US because of cotton subsidies.
“It is easy to find differences, but the job of a diplomat is to find a way to avoid having points of divergence have adverse effects on convergences,” he declared. “Retaliations generate counter retaliations and that is not good.” And added that he believed a solution could be found for the cotton problem.
Shannon said the US wants to expand relations in the area of ethanol, but did not offer details.
He said that president Barack Obama was enthusiastic about Brazil hosting the World Cup in 2014 and the Olympics in 2016 and that the United States could offer incentives to ensure he success of those events.
The new ambassador reminded everyone that in the near future the Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, will visit Brazil in order to further strengthen ties between the two nations.
At the end of the press conference, Shannon said: “É uma honra estar representando os Estados Unidos no Brasil. É um prazer enorme estar aqui.” (It is an honor to be representing the United States in Brazil. It is an enormous pleasure to be here.) In fluent Portuguese.