Although relations between Brazil and the United States are supposed to be excellent when Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff is received next April 9 in the White House by Barack Obama there will be many dissenting issues, according to Andres Oppenheimer from the Miami Herald and considered an expert in Latin American affairs from the US perspective.
To start with Brazilians can’t swallow the fact that Rousseff’s visit has not been catalogued ‘state visit’ which includes certain privileges such as dinner at the White House and a chance to address Congress.
Washington has argued that no ‘state visits’ are granted on electoral years, but the Brazilian press was quick to remind about the recent incursion in that condition of British prime minister David Cameron.
This in spite of the fact that such honor was granted to other BRIC members: China’s Hu Jintao in 2011 and India’s PM Manmohan Singh in 2009, plus Mexico’s Felipe Calderon in 2010.
“The fact that Brazil wanted a ‘state visit’ and Washington has not conceded makes them feel insulted”, said Peter Hakim from the Inter American Dialogue and for some Republicans this shows that for the Obama administration “Brazil is not considered a first or second level issue in foreign affairs”.
But there are concrete issues of controversy: Brazil is perplexed with the recent US Air Force decision to suspend a contract for 20 training aircraft from Embraer, a deal worth 355 million dollars. The contract was objected by Hawker Beechcraft.
Brazil is also concerned with recent legislation from the state of Florida barring local governments from contracting companies making business with Cuba. Such is the case of Odebrecht which has been contracted to build a hotel complex next to the Miami airport worth 700 million dollars.
Brazil remains irritated by the fact that in 2010 when visiting India, Obama openly supported New Delhi’s aspiration to have a seat in the UN Security Council. However when Obama visited Brazil he used the word, “acknowledgement” to describe US reply for a similar request from Brazil.
The US on the other hand is frustrated with Brazil’s support for Iran. Similarly when President Rousseff recently visited Cuba she strongly criticized human rights abuses in Guantanamo bay but not a word about the Havana regime.
Nevertheless Oppenheimer concludes that the Brazilian government, in spite of some US ‘snubs’ needs to improve political and trade relations with Washington. Brazil is too highly dependent on commodities exports to China.
The Obama administration should treat Brazil with the same level of respect as Russia, India or South African, whose foreign policies are usually more objectionable than those of Brasilia.
Both countries need each other more than what they believe, concludes the report.