Monday, April 13, 2009

Lula Prepares for the Summit, Meeting Bruno Rodriguez and US Congress

Lula stresses his diplomatic effort

April 8, 2009
A CubaNews translation by Will Reissner.
Edited by Walter Lippmann.

Brazilian president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva met separately today with the
Cuban foreign minister, Bruno Rodríguez, and a group of members of Congress
from the United States, in his effort to bring both countries closer before
the start of the Fifth Summit of the Americas, the EFE press agency

Rodríguez stopped off in Brasilia without making statements to the press,
but diplomatic sources told EFE that one of the points dealt with in the
meeting was the expectations awakened by the Summit, which will bring
together all the Latin American countries, minus Cuba, with the United
States in Trinidad and Tobago.

It will be the first meeting between the leaders of Latin America and the
U.S. President Barack Obama, who was already told by Lula during a meeting
in Washington last March that Cuba is a “sensitive issue” for the region.

The diplomatic sources that EFE consulted stated that Lula spoke of the
matter with foreign minister Bruno Rodríguez, whom he met together with his
foreign minister, Celso Amorim. None of those present at the meeting made
statements to journalists, but official sources stated that Lula reiterated
his interest that relations between the United States and Cuba and “other
countries,” alluding to Venezuela and Bolivia, should be discussed at the
gathering in Trinidad and Tobago.

Lula “did not raise the issue with the aim of putting himself forward as
mediator between Cuba and the United States, but (in Trinidad and Tobago) he
will express his opinion that relations between the two countries must be
normalized, on the basis of mutual respect,” spokespeople of the Brazilian
government explained.

After the meeting with the Cuban foreign minister, Lula met with a group of
United States members of Congress, made up of members of the Democratic and
Republican parties.

“The points were basically the same,” stated spokespeople for the Brazilian
presidency, adding that the only difference between the two meetings was
with regard to bilateral issues, which were also covered in the two

In the case of Cuba, relations are now fostered by Brazil’s interest in
participating in the exploitation of oil in Cuban deep waters.

With the United States, “the bilateral agenda is broader,” given that it is
Brazil’s principal trading partner, the sources explained, and they also
asserted that the fact that the meetings with the Cuban foreign minister and
the U.S. Congress members took place on the same day was “a mere

Rodríguez’s visit to Brasilia is thought to be his first official trip since
he took over the Ministry of Foreign Relations in place of Felipe Pérez
Roque, who was removed from his post during the broad cabinet reform carried
out by Cuban President Raúl Castro in March.

These changes in the Cuban government were interpreted at the time as an
attempt by Castro to make his cabinet seem friendlier to the United States
by removing the “radicals,” like Pérez Roque for one, and replacing them
with more moderate political figures.

Along these same lines, some Brazilian analysts have pointed to the fact
that Rodríguez’s first visit as foreign minister was to Brazil and not to
Venezuela, whose president, Hugo Chávez, maintains some very close
ideological and economic relations with Cuba.

Despite these close ties with Chávez, Raúl Castro was not at the last Summit
of the Boliviaran Alternative of the Americas (ALBA), which Venezuela
sponsors, and Cuban sources have said that it is also not likely he will
attend the next one, which will take place on April 16 in Caracas, like the
first one.

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