Several outstanding United States officials will be visiting Brazil and other "friendly" countries in South America to promote political and trade links in the framework of what has been described as the year of the "US commitment with Latin America."
This coming week Nicholas Burns, number three in the US State Department will begin a visit of Brazil, Chile and Uruguay together with Thomas Shannon, Under secretary for the Western Hemisphere, the man who has helped elaborate the President Bush administration new approach towards Latin America.
US State Department spokesperson Sean McCormack anticipated Burns will emphasize "regional and world security, environment protection, energy and trade". In Brazil he will also talk about "cooperation in biofuels" following on the memorandum signed by both countries when President Bush visited Brazil.
"Chile, Uruguay and Brazil are valued partners with which we hope to continue working in consolidating democracy, promoting prosperity and ensuring that economic growth improves the lives of all citizens in the Americas," said McCormack.
Later in the week US Secretary of the Treasury Henry Paulson is scheduled to visit the region. He is will also address trade, investment promotion, support for small and medium businesses and infrastructure in the region.
In Chile Burns and Shannon will be meeting President Michelle Bachelet and in Uruguay president Tabare Vazquez, and in Brazil Foreign Minister Celso Amorim. Shannon in Brazil will open the Brazil/US innovation summit.
Treasury Secretary Paulson is scheduled to meet Thursday in Montevideo with President Vazquez and Economy minister Danilo Astori.
Further on the calendar, August 10, the Council of the Americas presided by Susan Segal will hold a session in Montevideo and in September the visit of US Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez has been announced.
The Bush administration has defined 2007 as the year of the commitment with Latin America following strong criticisms from the opposition Democrat controlled Congress that it has neglected the region, which has facilitated the "growing influence" of Venezuela's Hugo Chavez.
This week also the White House is organizing a Conference on the Americas which is to be opened by President Bush, and First Lady Laura, and will be addressing dozens of representatives from different citizens' organizations. The conference will analyze relations of the region with the US from a more grass root level, and specifically address social justice.
Carlos Baraibar member of Uruguay's Congress and Foreign Relations Committee who recently visited the US said that Shannon is the architect of the Bush administration's new policy towards Latin America with an approach completely different to that of "Roger Noriega, Otto Reich and others who believed that whoever had contacts with Cuba was an enemy."
Baraibar added that the right wing approach has been replaced by another "more open and understanding of the situation" and which knows how to mark differences between more or less friendly and progressive administrations and those who some describe as populists.
"Shannon does not disqualify populism and considers it a reality of the region. Elected governments in democratic systems are the expression of peoples and realities which the US cannot ignore when considering historic links with Latin America".
President Bush and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice visited the region last March in what is now seen as the launching of the new approach towards the region in what is left of the current administration.
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