During Brazilian president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva’s recent trip to several African countries Brazil and South Africa signed the most wide-ranging cooperation agreements ever between the two nations.
After a meeting with president Jacob Zuma, Lula declared it was his intention to transfer Brazilian technology in farming and digital TV, as well as to move ahead with plans to jointly build military aircraft.
“We want president Zuma to join us in the construction of the KC-139, a new Hercules transportation airplane that is based on a project by the Brazilian Army,” said Lula, adding that nine of the new planes would be flying in 2015.
Lula also revealed Brazilian interest in products made in South Africa. “We are interested in unmanned aircraft and vehicles that South Africa produces,” he said, explaining that with recent discoveries of petroleum, Brazil was more than ever interested in border protection.
“We have a lot of borders. Land borders, an enormous coastline. And now petroleum 300 kilometers out in the ocean. If we are not careful, somebody else may want to go out there…” said the president.
At the end of what is probably his last visit to the African continent, Lula summed up his eight years in office by saying that he had gone to more countries in Africa than any other Brazilian president, 27 of them, and that trade had risen from US$ 5 billion in 2003 to US$ 26 billion in 2009.
Lula said that before he leaves office he wants to see at least two more conferences of Brazilian and African businessmen. And he also lamented that there were no direct flights between Brazil and South Africa, saying he was going to try to fix that.
While the Brazilian president was traveling in Africa last week, vice president José Alencar, who is 78 years old and has been battling cancer for over a decade, checked into the hospital for a routine chemotherapy session. However, it was found that he had high blood pressure and was having some problems breathing.
So, after an examination, it was decided he should undergo a catheterization and an angioplasty. As a result of the exams, doctors decided to put a stent in an artery. Alencar had received another stent five years ago in another artery.
The heart problem and procedures were unexpected and put Alencar in intensive care. Doctors say he will continue his normal cancer treatment as soon as he recovers from the stent, which is expected to be in a few days.
Meanwhile, Sunday afternoon, Lula visited the vice president (the stent placement took place in the morning) and they both watched the end of the final game of the 2010 World Cup. Alencar said he was satisfied Spain won, as some members of his family came from there.
Lula ended his eight-day trip to six African nations on Saturday when he flew back to Brazil. Setting aside protocol requiring him to attend the World Cup final, as president of the next country to host the games, Lula decided to be less presidential and more a disappointed soccer fan. Spokespersons for the presidency said Lula was very depressed after Brazil was eliminated by Holland.
Lula left Johannesburg without meeting the head of the International Soccer Federation (FIFA), Joseph Blatter. That meeting will now take place in Brazil, in September, when FIFA executives will discuss preparations for the 2014 Cup with Brazilian authorities.
Lula apologized for not attending the final game saying he had problems back in Brazil, such as floods in the Northeast and a vice president who is hospitalized.
The minister of Sports, Orlando Silva, represented Brazil at the final game.