Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Apr 26/05 - On Brazil's attempts (?) to reign in Hugo Chavez

PMBComment: interesting note from the BBC, particularly considering the subject. It provides a glimpse of the behind the scenes of Jose Dirceu's quiet visit with Dr. Rice and others in DC a few weeks ago. Lula encouraged Dirceu, his right hand man and chief Cuba apologist, to take the shuttle from NY, where he was on official business, to DC so he could hear, face to face, some of the info on Chavez that the US has been quietly delivering to all governments that care to hear.

According to sources in Brazil's capital, Lula's current (definitive?) view on Chavez goes like this: "enough is enough, Hugo is dangerous and we cannot be seen as the only guys propping him up: quite the contrary we have to demonstrate that we have are serious, trustworthy and in the end also endowed with principled, but limited, patience, If Hugo continues acting like I am sure he will - we have to join with the US, like it or not, to help restore democracy in Venezuela. I am not going to let history judge me for having blown Brazil's chances to claim a seat in the UN Security Council because of a unreliable relationship with an unstable junior officer".

Just a few days ago, during his press conference with Condi Rice, Foreign Minister Amorin said all he could say while maintaining a small hope for effective dialogue with Caracas. Caracas on the other hand heard a lot less that they expected to hear publicly from their massive-but-not-stupid neighbor to the south. PMB

BBC Monitoring Americas

"Chavez does not listen to me", Brazil's Dirceu tells Rice

Washington, 26 April: A few days after his return from Washington, where he met with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Civilian Household Minister Jose Dirceu told his friends, during an informal dinner in Brasilia, that during the meeting he was informed about President George W. Bush's "extreme annoyance" with the Venezuelan administration. A few days before, Hugo Chavez had bought a number of weapons. For his part, he requested the lifting of the trade embargo against Cuba. Dirceu also told the dinner attendees that he spoke on equal terms with his hostess and acted as an intermediary for a possible rapprochement between Washington and Havana.

During the conversation, Condoleezza mentioned the issue of the purchase of 70,000 rifles from Spain. According to Dirceu, she asked: "What does the Venezuelan president plan to do with those weapons?" "Chavez does not listen to me. I have already told him to stop this," answered the minister, who informed her that he has already discussed the issue in Caracas. Dirceu had allegedly told Chavez that "this is a hopeless fight", because the United States "can buy oil from any other [country] and

Venezuela will not find a customer as strong as the United States". "Bush became extremely annoyed at this purchase," Dirceu underscored. Right after that, he mentioned the Cuban issue. "I told Condoleezza that this embargo cannot go on," he said, referring to the US trade embargo against Cuba.

At a certain point in the conversation, one of the guests asked: "Mr Minister, does this mean that we now have three foreign ministers?" (besides Celso Amorim and Presidential Special Adviser Marco Aurelio Garcia) "I follow orders," Jose Dirceu answered. "President Lula orders and I obey," he said.