The United States keeps close track of the democracy consolidation process in Latin America and has a concern about the development of Latin American countries. It’s what US Deputy Secretary of State, Robert Zoellick, said, in an official trip to Brazil.
Zoellick affirmed that, during the meetings he’s having with Brazilian authorities, he is interested in learning about their opinion on Latin American democratic processes.
Zoellick listed five Latin American countries where democracy is still fragile: Bolivia, Ecuador, Venezuela, Nicaragua, and Haiti. He called Venezuelan president, Hugo Chávez, a populist and hinted he didn’t trust his proposals for South American integration, such as the creation of the Bank of the South. This bank, according to Chávez, would have funds to benefit integration projects of South American countries.
Zoellick praised President Lula, whom he classified as a left leader, for paying attention to the democratic process. He also pointed out the negotiating role of Chile’s President Ricardo Lagos.
Zoellick explained that his country’s interest on South American democracy does not focus on left or right wing political positions, but on whether leaders are committed with the country’s democracy and development.
The Secretary said the Organization of American States and the Interamerican Development Bank (IDB) should follow democratic processes in Latin America closer, and not only during elections time.
Regarding Brazil, Zoellick said it is an "excellent ally" of the US, but criticized its request to the World Trade Organization (WTO) to retaliate against US over cotton.
On Thursday, October 6, Brazil asked the WTO for the right to impose sanctions of US$ 1 billion on the US, claiming that that country has not eliminated subsidies to producers, which should have occurred in the beginning of September.
"Retaliation is counterproductive. The best way to resolve this is in the Doha Round," said the American official.
In the Secretary’s opinion, Brazil’s economy has potential and it should open up more, and increase competitiveness. Zoellick said that the US is no longer focusing on the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) as a way of unifying the continent’s economies. For him, that should be done in the WTO.
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