Brazil Rebuffs Bolivia and Says It’s as Proud of Petrobras as of Its Soccer Team

Brazil’s Minister of Foreign Relations, Celso Amorim, who is attending the European-Latin American-Caribbean summit in Austria, says that recent declarations by the president of Bolivia, Evo Morales, to the effect that Petrobras was operating illegally in BolÀ­via, were causing "strange and lamentable" feelings in Brasilia.

He added that those feelings could turn into "indignation" if Morales insists on accusing Petrobras of committing crimes, such as contraband activities.

"I would rather believe that he was not referring to Petrobras. These accusations are false…. We are certain that the company’s operations are legal. President Lula believes that Petrobras has always operated within legal norms," said the minister, adding that the declarations by Morales were in sharp contrast to the documents the two countries have recently signed.

"First there was a declaration after the Porto Iguazu summit last week, and this week, on Tuesday, May 9, the Brazilian and Bolivian ministries of Energy released a document on their efforts to negotiate an agreement…. We are naturally concerned about the difference of content in the documents and what is being said in public," declared the minister.

Amorim was asked if the government’s response was too moderate. "We are not interested in being excessively aggressive or excessively moderate," he replied.

But, he added, at the same time the government will do everything it can to defend Brazilian interests. He pointed out that Brazilians are as proud of Petrobras as they are of their world champion national soccer team.

In conclusion, Amorim said the Brazilian government was observing the situation of Brazilians living in Bolivia, many of them soy farmers, who grow 60% of the soy exported by Bolivia. "We expect that Brazilians living in Bolivia will be treated properly."

Agência Brasil

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