Bush Uses Chavez Tactics to Win Brazil and Latin America

Presidents Chavez of Venezuela and Bush of the United States President Bush, facing criticism he has ignored Latin America, said Monday, March 5, the region's grinding poverty is a scandal that has caused some to question the value of democracy.

He said the United States will spend tens of millions of dollars to improve education, housing and health care across the region.

"The United States of America is committed to helping people rise out of poverty," the president said.

Many children in Latin America do not finish grade school and many mothers never see a doctor, Bush said in a speech at the Ronald Reagan Building to about 400 invited guests, most of them members of the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.

"In an age of growing prosperity and abundance, this is a scandal and it is a challenge," Bush said.

The speech came three days before the president leaves on a week-long trip to Brazil, Uruguay, Colombia, Guatemala and Mexico.

National security adviser Stephen Hadley said Bush's efforts in Latin America have been overshadowed by the fight against terror and illegal drug trafficking and by trade issues.

"It's something we have not done well enough, getting out the full scope of the president's message," Hadley said at a briefing before the president's address.

Since taking office, Bush has doubled U.S. foreign assistance to Latin America to about US$ 1.6 billion a year. The money includes development assistance, military assistance and counter-narcotic assistance.

Colombia is the largest recipient of U.S. aide outside the Middle East and Afghanistan, with most of the money earmarked for anti-drug efforts.

Bush announced a series of steps to help the region:

* A Navy medical ship, the Comfort, will make port calls in Belize, Guatemala, Panama, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Haiti, Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana and Suriname. Its staff will treat 85,000 patients and conduct up to 1,500 surgeries. Other military medical teams will provide medical care through 62 medical readiness training exercises in 14 countries.

* A health care professional training center will be established in Panama to serve all of Central America, training students to be nurses, technicians and health care workers.

* The United States will commit US$ 75 million over three years to help thousands of young people improve their English and study in the United States. Over the past three years, the United States has provided US$ 150 million on education programs throughout the region.

* A program to make housing more affordable will be expanded with an additional US$ 385 million. The United States already has provided more than US$ 100 million through the Overseas Private Investment Corp. to help underwrite mortgages to working families in Mexico, Brazil, Chile and the countries of Central America.

Later this year, the administration will convene a White House conference on the Western Hemisphere, bringing together representatives from the private sector, nongovernmental organizations, faith-based groups and volunteer associations, to explore more effective ways to deliver aid.

Peter DeShazo, who oversaw Western Hemisphere affairs for the State Department until last year, said Bush's trip is intended to offset "the widespread perception that the U.S. has shown little attention" to the region.

DeShazo, speaking at a briefing of the Center for International and Strategic Studies, said Bush's visit "underscores that the administration is willing to work with democratic governments" whether they are on the left, like Brazil's Lula or on the right, like Mexico's Felipe Calderon.



  • Show Comments (4)

  • Forrest Allen Brown

    The USA matches dollar for dollar brasil puts in a buck we put one in .

    but you have to prove it went to where it was earmarked for not some fat politican pocket or family members fake company

    to buy books for the poor not to send the rich kids to college .
    not to build a state of the art school in the high side of rio
    but out in the country , in the north , in the river valleys on the hill side in every city where people are slaves to crime , drugs , hunger that thousand yard stair of dispare i see so much in the people of brasil

    do this for 5 years then drop it to 75 cents usa 1 dollar brasil and so on

  • conceicao

    You make several good points, but the importance of the Lebanon example escapes me. The point about the pensions is obvious and well-taken, but do give Brasil some credit for having
    the flexibility and commonsense to avoid running its economy off a cliff out of devotion to big government and big government employee privileges like Argentina did. And, Brasil has
    honored its debts unlike Argentina, yet still suffers from its proximity to the Argentina taint as the continued large primary surplus and high interest rates prove out. And, I don’t believe
    government in any way, shape, or form is the answer for a productive and developing Brasil. Aside from prisons, hydro, and roads, the primary goal of the Brasilian government should be to insure
    conditions that induce Rio Doce, Petrobras, Gerdau and the agricultural sector capitalists, etc, to invest their profits into Brasil to spur development. The reduction or eliminate by the
    developed world of their counterproductive trade policies that deny the Brasil ag sector free access to world markets should be part of that. The only minority elite that I am worried
    about are the government. I bet Rio Doce and Petrobras have put up more productive infrastructure in the last ten years than the government has. And, Embraer, offshore Petrobras and
    the world-beating gasohol industry and too good and too big at this point to let the bureaucrats hold them back the way that they have in the past. I also blame Brasilia for the loss to France.

  • ch.c.

    To Conceicao !
    I agree with you somewhat but what do you thin Brazil offered Lebanon for its reconstruction ?

    ONE million US$ out of over 5 billion offered by other countries and you hope as per your clowny Ministers to get
    large construction contracts with your generosity !!!!
    1 million equals 0,02 % or 1 dollar for every 5000 offered ! Almost an insult from a large country such as Brazil.

    Furthermore why is Brazil unable to care for the education of its own children ? Why others have always to give you something ?
    Why doesnt Brazil spends a similar percentage (not money but percentage) out of your budget as other countries do ?

    The answer is quite simple, your government spends way to much for its own personal needs and well being.
    No doubt that many readers will disagree with me…..as usual !
    But below is what Mailson da Nobrega Consultant and Former Finance Minister said in 2005 :

    – ” The biggest problem is the structural deficit of the pension system which affects everything else. Over the last 18 years Brazil has tripled pension costs as a proportion of GDP – from 4% in 1987 to 12% in 2005, including pensions from the state INSS scheme and the public employeesÀ¢€™ scheme. There is no parallel anywhere else in the world. At the same time, the 1988 Constitution increased the links between the revenues and costs and the transfer of resources to the states and municipalities. The result is that when you add the interest rates account, these obligatory costs represent 33% of GDP. That is why today Brazil has a tax burden of 37% of GDP and spends 40% of GDP in the public sector. As our per capita income rules out collecting amounts of this size in any rational way, there has been a considerable deterioration in the tax system since 1988, leading to inefficiency, tax dodging and corruption”

    – “Increasing taxes has not been enough to resolve the problems of the higher public spending brought on by the Constitution. A part was financed by the dramatic reduction in investments by the federal government, which fell from 2.7% of GDP in 1987 to only 0.4% of GDP now”

    – On EDUCATION he said “South Korea, for example, spends one-third of what it spends on education on pensions. In Brazil, the situation is the opposite, with pensions representing two and a half times the amount spent on education. There are other problems to be resolved but Brazil will not be able to achieve greater growth until the problem of the pensions is tackled.”

    – “Brazil has created social policies which, to quote the American historian Peter Lindert turn Robin HoodÀ‚´s ideas around. The poor pay indirect, regressive taxes to finance the pensions of those who are not poor and provide free higher education for the rich, which worsens the concentration of income. It is difficult to gain a consensus on how to confront these situations. Many Congressmen depend on the votes of older people and reciprocate by supporting parliamentary amendments in favor of this group. At the same time, nepotism is sometimes used to fill public positions”

    Conclusion : in my view Brazil is and will remain a country with no future at all, until you clean the big mess created by your corrupted
    politicians and minority elite !!!!!!

  • conceicao

    You guys really nailed this one. Really cynical and pathetic for someone who is supposed to be the leader of the free world.

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