Bush Going to Brazil in March. Chí¡vez Seen as a Reason

US President George W. Bush American President, George W. Bush, is going to visit Brazil early next month, according to an announcement by White House spokesman, Tony Snow. Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice should accompany the US president.

Analysts in Brazil believe that Washington is trying to get close to president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva and other moderate leaders in South America as a  way to isolate Hugo Chávez, the Venezuelan president.

According to a note from the White House, the American leader and Mrs. Bush will travel to Brazil, Uruguay, Colombia, Guatemala, and Mexico from March 8 to March 14.

"This trip," says the communiqué, "will underscore the commitment of the United States to the Western Hemisphere and will highlight our common agenda to advance freedom, prosperity, and social justice and deliver the benefits of democracy in the areas of health, education, and economic opportunity."

Bush will meet with Lula and other Brazilian leaders to discuss alternative energy, among other issues. Preparing the way for Bush's visit, US Attorney General, Alberto Gonzales, is in Brazil for a series of contacts.

Gonzales, praised today during a press conference in Brazil the measures adopted by the Brazilian government to fight international crime and terrorism, mentioning the creation of an intelligence center in the triple border area of Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay.

Gonzales, who is on a two-day trip to Brazil,  met Brazil's Justice Minister, Márcio Thomaz Bastos, in Brazilian capital Brasí­lia. He will end his visit on Friday, February 9, with a conference in Rio de Janeiro on the international war against piracy.

The Brazilian authorities consider the Brazilian border with Paraguay as the main door through which drugs enter the country. They are concerned with the increase of piracy, smuggling, drug trafficking and weapons sale in the tri-border region. Brazil rejects, however, US charges that the area is a focus of Arab and Islamic terrorism.

Gonzales told reporters that he had discussed with Brazilian authorities ways to fight international crime, including cybercrime and CD, DVD and software piracy. After his encounter with the Justice minister, the Attorney General also met the governors of Rio de Janeiro, Bahia, Brasí­lia, Pernambuco, Ceará and Rio Grande do Sul.

Bastos, the Brazilian minister, announced that he and his American counterpart have agreed on twice-a-year bilateral consultations and experience exchanges to deal with such crimes as drug trafficking, terrorism, cyber crime and money laundering. The meetings will be held alternately in Brasí­lia and Washington.

The following is the prepared remarks of Gonzales at the press conference:

"I am pleased to join Minister of Justice Bastos as part of a series of meetings we will be having over the next two days while in Brazil. We have already had a fruitful discussion on a number of topics of mutual importance to Brazil and the United States.

"Protecting the safety of our citizens is perhaps the central mission of any government. Without basic safety and security, we cannot be free to enjoy the many blessings of liberty and democracy. Today's meeting provided an opportunity to share our experiences combating violent crimes and gangs.

"I would like to thank Brazil and the Justice Minister for their partnership on the law enforcement and counterterrorism issues that are so important to the well being of both of our countries.

"Brazil has taken key steps to combat terrorism including the creation of an intelligence center and allocation of additional resources in the tri-border area. We encourage Brazil to continue in its progress to strengthen laws to help fight international terrorism.

"We have been discussing the hard work of the government of Brazil to combat cybercrime and intellectual property crime. Specifically, Brazil has been an Organization of American States (OAS) leader in addressing cybercrime.

"In December, for example, you hosted an OAS cybercrime workshop for South American states. We also discussed additional ways in which we could work together to increase the number of prosecutions for cybercrimes and intellectual property.

"These are issues we must face together. As your partners in the global fight against terrorists, violent gangs and criminals, the United States appreciates and supports your efforts and look forward to continuing our conversation and exploring additional ways our two nations can work together to keep all of our citizens safe."

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