Brazilian Ambassador Antonio de Aguiar Patriota touched on his country’s economy and its relationship with the United States in a speech at the Elliott School of International Affairs Tuesday afternoon.
While relations between the United States and many Latin American countries have become strained in recent years, he painted Brazil’s ties with the U.S. in a positive light.
“We in Brazil do not have a sense that the U.S. has neglected the region,” Patriota said. “Brazil has become a very important investor in the U.S.”
Although Patriota admitted that there is always room for improvement, he said the relations between the two countries have generally been a “vibrant economic relationship.”
Noting the recent G-20 Conference and the global economic crisis, Patriota said Brazil’s economy has improved substantially in recent years. He said he has “never been this comfortable to represent Brazil internationally.”
“Inequality in Brazil during this period of growth has decreased significantly,” he said.
Patriota paralleled the election of President-elect Barack Obama with the 2002 election of Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. He said it was “as extraordinary for a black person to win in the U.S. as is a metal worker in Brazil.”
The ambassador said he hopes his relationship with Obama will be as good as it is with President George W. Bush.
“We look toward the future, towards a multilateral approach on issues,” he said, adding, “(Brazil) is looking for partnerships in the region and beyond, to see what we can do.”
He also discussed how Brazil was the only country in South America for many years not to have border disputes with its neighbors.
“Probably with the exception of Europe, there is no other part of the world where you see such a large number of countries that all have democratically elected (governments) and live in harmonious conjunction,” Patriota said.
He said Brazil must pay very serious attention to its immediate neighbors, however. Patriota said Brazil plans to take the lead in improving economic coordination, forging closer political dialogue and establishing better methods of communication in South America.
When asked what is the most rewarding aspect of his post as ambassador to the U.S., Patriota answered that it was “witnessing the growing interest in Brazil from the U.S. and coming into touch with high-level educational institutions and students in order to reach out to future generations.”
This article appeared in the November 20, 2008 issue of the Hatchet.