US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld visits Brazil

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Saturday, March 26, 2005

[[w:Brazil|Brazil]] — Tuesday (March 22) the United States Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld arrived in Brazil for a visit with Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, Vice-President and Defense Minister José Alencar, and other top officials.

In a meeting with President Lula DaSilva and his Vice-President and Minister of Defense, José Alencar, Mr Rumsfeld discussed Brazil leading the UN military forces in Haiti, terrorism and narcotrafficking.

Rumsfeld told to AFP journalists: "The United States has put forward four topics, which we have agreed to take up: application of a law to down [drug traffickers' aircraft]; [UN] operations in Haiti; drug trafficking; and the fight against terrorism, including Brazil's position on security in South America."

Joint Press Conference

Rumsfeld and Alencar held a Joint Press Conference in Brasilia, the capital city of Brazil. Rumsfled stated that the friendship between Brazil and United States is long-standing and highly-valued. He added that the US and Brazil were allies in the Second World War and partners in helping to shape key post-war institutions including the United Nations.

Journalists asked both José Alencar, and Mr Rumsfeld if they were concerned about Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez, particularly after his recent purchase of 100,000 AK-47 assault rifles.

Rumsfeld said:

Certainly I'm concerned. If one thinks about it, the discussion that's taking place, as I understand it, is concerning something in the neighborhood of 100,000 AK-47s to be moved from Russia possibly to Venezuela. I don't know if it's firm, but I've read about it and heard it discussed. Not just in the press, but bilaterally. I can't imagine what's going to happen to 100,000 AK-47s. I can't imagine why Venezuela needs 100, 000 AK-47s. I just hope that, personally hope, that it doesn't happen. I can't imagine that if it did happen, that it would be good for the hemisphere.

The Brazilian Vice-President said that Brazil prefers not to interfere in the affairs of others:

Brazil has always defended and will continue defending the self-determination of the different peoples and non-intervention in the affairs of other countries. Obviously, here in Brazil, which is a country historically pacific (peaceful), obviously we would like to increasingly deepen our diplomatic and trade relations with our countries, with the objective of achieving the common good.

President Lula is scheduled to meet President Hugo Chávez, the President of Colombia Alvaro Uribe Velez and Spain's prime minister, José Luiz Zapatero next Tuesday in Ciudad Guayana, Venezuela.

The Workers' Party Secretary for International Foreign Relations didn't agree with the US Defense Secretary regarding Venezuela. He said that his "declaration, does not contribute to a process of stabilization of the United States' relations with Latin America. It is a kind of mentality that, unhappyly, still is present in the American state, which considers Latin America as an extension of its territory." [1]

Rumsfeld praised Brazil's leadership in United Nations operations in Haiti where they have maintained order in the country after the overthrow of former President Jean Bertrand Aristide in February 2004.

A reporter asked Mr Rumsfeld whether Brazil is ready to have a seat on the UN Security Council. He answered by saying the Department of Defense doesn't have a voice or a role in that and the matter should be answered by the US President and the Secretary of State.

FARC and SIVAM

Journalists asked the Brazilian Vice-President José Alencar three if Brazil will declare the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) as a terrorist organization and if the government is worried about the FARC infiltration in Brazilian territory. Alencar was evasive and he refused to answer the questions directly.

Alencar said Brazil repudiates narcotrafficking and that "if the organization adopts crime as an instrument for raising resources, obviously it is something that must be combated."

Later he became impatient and said that he had already said everything he had to say. [2], [3]

Mr Rumsfeld visited SIVAM, the Amazon Surveillance System. SIVAM, which was built by U.S. Defense contractor Raytheon Corporation, is an arrangement of interconnected sensors and radars to supervise both environmental conditions and criminal activity in the Amazon,

According to the Communist Party of Brazil (PCdoB), about 60 activists protested in the Amazon against the visit of Rumsfeld when he was touring SIVAM.

Renato Rabelo, the President of the PCdoB released a note repudiating the visit of the US Secretary. "The Communist Party of Brazil repudiates the presence in domestic territory of the secretary of the Defense of the United States, Donald Rumsfeld. The undesired visitor is one of the main expoents of the tyrant and imperialist government of the United States", says a excerpt.[4]

Sources