Cuba's interim president Raul Castro requested advise and help from Brazil's President, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, "to accelerate the political and economic transition process" in the island, according to the Wednesday, February 20, edition of Brazil's largest daily, Folha de S. Paulo.
The newspaper reports that during the January Brazilian presidential visit to Havana, the younger Castro praised Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez for having helped Cuba "in a particularly tough moment of the ongoing confrontation with the United States George W Bush administration".
Nevertheless Fidel Castro brother is quoted saying that Brazil "is a far more convenient associate than Venezuela's Chavez", for the transition period.
On Tuesday, in an open letter the ailing Fidel Castro who underwent serious intestinal surgery in 2006 and since named his brother Raul temporary caretaker president, announced his definitive renouncement to any political, party or military post or responsibility.
The Folha de S. Paulo piece based on data allegedly disclosed by members of the Brazilian government delegation that visited Cuba with the Brazilian president, says that Raul also requested Lula to convince the United States to end the economic embargo dating back to 1962, and which President Bush has made even stricter.
The same sources added that Lula wants to stimulate Brazilian businessmen to invest in Cuba if the project to speed political and economic transition is effectively confirmed.
"In the words of one of the ministers, Brazil is one of the few countries in the world capable of having a dialogue with the Cuban regime, with Chavez and with the US government." Besides "he's far more useful for that purpose than the conflicting Chavez who is at loggerheads with the United States and Colombia."
According to Folha, Raul Castro proposal had a good reception from the Brazilian president: "in the dispute with Venezuela for the leadership of Latinamerica, Brazil would very much like to help Cuba in a post-Fidel Castro scenario."
However Lula told Raul that any economic advances in Cuba must run parallel to a greater political opening, according to members of the Brazilian presidential delegation that visited Havana.
The president of Brazil went further and suggested to the Cuban interim president "gestures in the field of human rights (release of political prisoners), evidence of a real transition intent and not only a follow up of the Chinese model (economic opening and iron hand in politics)," concludes the article.
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