Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva discussed the development of a strategic partnership between the United States and Brazil, regional challenges, trade and other issues in an April 26 meeting in Brazil.
In an April 27 interview with TV Globo, Rice outlined her discussion with President Lula and said that the two leaders mostly discussed the development of a strategic partnership between the United States and Brazil.
She said that this partnership would be based on common values, beginning with a shared belief in democracy. Rice pointed out that the United States and Brazil are multiethnic democracies that celebrate diversity, unlike many other parts of the world where these differences are divisive.
The secretary said that the two leaders also talked of the need to make democracy work for people.
The two leaders also discussed challenges in Ecuador, Bolivia and Venezuela, Rice said. She explained that U.S. concerns in Venezuela do not center on President Hugo Chavez, but instead concern Venezuela’s interference in the affairs of its neighbors and the deterioration of democratic institutions there.
“The important message is that everyone should rule and govern democratically and that there should be no interference in the affairs of neighbors,” Rice said.
The secretary said that she and President Lula also had a good discussion on trade and the need to have greater economic and trade relations between the nations of the Western Hemisphere.
She noted that their conversation touched on both World Trade Organization (WTO) and the Free Trade Area of the America (FTAA) talks. Rice said that these arrangements do not need to compete with one another, but can be complimentary.
Regarding Brazil’s bid to become a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council, Rice said the bid needs to be considered in the context of broader U.N. reform, including reform of the U.N. Human Rights Commission.
Following is the transcript of Rice’s interview with Globo TV:
QUESTION: So how was your meeting yesterday with President Lula? What did you talk about?
SECRETARY RICE: I had a wonderful meeting with President Lula yesterday. First of all, he is someone that I admire very much, that the President admires for all that he’s done for Brazil, for his own personal story, which is an inspirational one in a democracy. It was a warm meeting.
We had an opportunity to talk about the aspirations of people of Brazil and people in the region, as well as people in the world, for democracy and for prosperity.
The President talked a lot about his trip to Africa and how he’s been impressed with how much work there is to do there. And we talked about what we might be able to do together in areas like that.
We talked about the challenges in this region, in places like Ecuador and Bolivia and in places like Venezuela. But we talked mostly about the strategic relationship that the United States and Brazil should develop as two large, multiethnic democracies with, I think, much that we could do for the world with our partnership.
QUESTION: And what could be done and which strategy and plan?
SECRETARY RICE: Well, the strategy is to proceed from our common values. And our common values, of course, begin with our belief in democracy. And Brazil, because it had such a struggle for democracy and in recent decades a struggle for democracy, is a very important symbol and example for people who are still struggling.
We also talked about the fact that we are multiethnic democracies and, in much of the world, being different is a reason to kill someone. In Brazil and in the United States, being different is a part of the rich cultural diversity and tapestry of our societies.
And so we talked about that. And we talked about the need to make sure that democracy is actually working for the people, that education and hunger and health care are all being provided for the people, even for the people who are the poorest.
QUESTION: Talk about democracy. What did you talk about Venezuela?
SECRETARY RICE: We have talked about Venezuela. We’ve talked about the challenges that the Venezuelan people have. The United States views on this are very clear. We have had over the years traditionally very good relations with Venezuela.
QUESTION: But now?
SECRETARY RICE: We have wonderful relations with the Venezuelan people. We have economic relations with Venezuela. Our concerns are not about the single person here, Mr. Chavez.
Our concerns are about the behavior here, concerns about the interference in the affairs of neighbors, concerns about what is happening to democratic institutions in Venezuela.
After all, we have a democratic charter, the Inter-American Democratic Charter, that obligates democratically elected leaders to rule democratically.
But I want to be very clear. We talked about a range of issues and challenges, because Venezuela is an important one, but it is by no means the center of the relationship between the United States and Brazil. That is a relationship that has a lot of work to do in the hemisphere and in the world.
QUESTION: But could you number some of the (inaudible) Venezuela and Brazil’s relationship to Hugo Chavez?
SECRETARY RICE: I assume that Brazil should have relations with Venezuela. Venezuela is a country with which we have diplomatic relations. This is not an issue of not talking to the Venezuelans. That’s very, very good that Brazil talks with the Venezuelan government.
The important message is that everyone should rule and govern democratically and that there should be no interference in the affairs of neighbors.
But we are going to have democracy triumph and flourish in this hemisphere by attention to democratic processes, to the benefits of free trade.
We talked a good deal yesterday about the WTO, about the FTAA, about the need to have greater economic trade and relationships between the members of this hemisphere.
We are going to try and have democracy triumph when countries are willing to help fragile democracies, as we’ve been trying to do and the OAS has been trying to do and Brazil has been trying to do with the recent difficulties in Ecuador.
QUESTION: Which democracies are at risk?
SECRETARY RICE: I think everyone knows that there have been very difficult times in Bolivia. There have been difficult times in Ecuador. And these are new democracies – fragile democracies and when this happens, the region and particularly important countries in the region, like Brazil, mobilize to try and help them get through these difficult times.
QUESTION: Given for this exile to a President that chose corruption, President Lucio Gutiérrez, was a good thing or not?
SECRETARY RICE: Well, it was a decision by the Brazilian government, but we all were focused on – and we appreciate very much what Brazil has done – we’re all focused on the need to help the Ecuadorian people move on, to move forward in a constitutional way, to move forward in a democratic way. And all of the steps that are being taken are intending to do that.
QUESTION: What did you talk about FTAA?
SECRETARY RICE: Yes, we had very good discussions on the FTAA. It has been an important symbol, as well as an important fact, of the relationship. It stands for the desire to see a freer trading, more integrated western hemisphere, in which you would have the power of this hemisphere from Canada to Chile. And that is the reason that we’ve been focused on the FTAA. It does not have to compete with other trade arrangements. We should also be focused on the WTO.
The United States, of course, has with Mexico and Canada a very effective trading system through NAFTA. And we understand the desires of Brazil to help in the integration of South America. So these do not have to be competitive, they can be complimentary.
QUESTION: Now, our favorite question. Do you support a bid for Brazil to become a permanent member to the U.N. Security Council?
SECRETARY RICE: The U.N. Security Council has to be thought of in the context of broader U.N. reform. And the U.N. needs reform. It needs reform of the secretariat. It needs reform of its organization. It needs reform of commissions like the Human Rights Commission – where Sudan ended up on the Human Rights Commission.
So clearly it needs reform. And in that context, the Security Council is going to have to be reformed. All international institutions are going to have to recognize that a lot has changed since 1945. There are new actors. There are new important countries that are rising and taking on a global role.
But what we want to do is to consider this in the context of broad reform. And we’re in very close consultations with other members of the Permanent Five but also with those who aspire to Security Council membership.
QUESTION: Is it time to support a bid from Brazil or not?
SECRETARY RICE: This will in many ways come to some kind of head in September when the U.N. General Assembly meets. I think we will at that point have to have a serious discussion about where we stand on all aspects of U.N. Security Council reform.
There’s no doubt that Brazil is an emerging and important player regionally, increasingly globally. And international institutions will have to begin to take that into account.
QUESTION: Okay. The number of illegal immigrants from Brazil in the U.S. has risen over the years. What is the U.S. doing about it and what should Brazil do? Are you concerned about that?
SECRETARY RICE: Well, we have in the United States a problem with immigration, illegal immigration. Obviously, the United States has to have laws that have to be enforced on immigration. But the President has said that it is also extremely important that we have immigration reform in the United States.
We need an immigration system that is humane, an immigration system that respects our laws, therefore the President has never favored amnesty.
The President has also said that perhaps through something like a temporary worker program where people can work and where we recognize the fact that the American economy does in fact use the labors of people who come to the country seeking work, they’re seeking a better life – these are jobs Americans will not do – and so matching a willing worker with a willing employer is a part of this new immigration reform that the President would like to see.
And that would be economically viable for both the worker and the employer, and it would be more humane than having people live in the shadows as they do now.
QUESTION: Okay, but are you concerned specifically with Brazilian illegal immigration or not?
SECRETARY RICE: Well, it’s the system as a whole. I think we have no concerns about a specific group of people. But we do worry about the ability of the United States to maintain control of its borders, control of immigration. And, frankly, our system is very, very desperately in need of reform.
QUESTION: Okay. Thank you very much.
SECRETARY RICE: Thank you very much.
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