Following the trip to Argentina, preparations are already underway in Brazil for president Dilma Rousseff’s next international trip. On February 15 and 16, she will be in Lima. Peru, for the Third Summit of South American and Arab Nations (ASPA).
ASPA was founded in 2003 and has seven permanent subcommissions that deal with a series of issues of interest to the members. The Lima agenda is extensive, dealing with issues ranging from food security to sustainable development.
The summit also takes place against a background of political tension in the Arab world. Street demonstrations have taken place in Egypt, Jordan and Yemen, not to mention Tunisia, where the government collapsed.
At the same time, the Mercosur nations (Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay) have all come out in favor of the creation of a Palestinian state.
In the area of trade, Brazil seeks to strengthen exports to Arab nations and open new markets.
However, problems with food security, water supplies and desertification are expected to dominate much of the discussions.
Brazil will be in the spotlight because of its successful social assistance projects, especially income transfer programs, such as Bolsa Família.
At the ASPA summit, her first multilateral event, Dilma Rousseff is scheduled to make two speeches. She will speak to members of the South American and Arab business communities. And she will address the 33 heads of state and government who will attend the summit.
Chavez and Santos
President Rousseff will be able to meet with various leaders at the ASPA. The summit will consist of a series of official events. But, during intervals, there will be opportunities for bilateral chats that are an important part of international relations.
Dilma will want to talk to certain participants specifically. Among them are Hugo Chavez of Venezuela, and Juan Manoel Santos of Colombia. She will certainly take advantage of the summit to have conversations with other leaders.
The ASPA summit traditionally honors South Americans of Arab descent. This summit will pay homage to the Brazilian writer, Milton Hatoum, and the Colombian singer, Shakira.
Both are descended from Lebanese families (an estimated 10 million people in Brazil are descended from immigrants from Lebanon; they form the largest Arab community in the country).
There will also be an exhibition of photos of 130 years of Arab immigration in South America.