Cuba: What's on President Rousseff's Agenda?

Brazil's first female president is in Cuba on a visit intended “to strengthen bilateral ties especially in the economic and commercial spheres”, according to the Cuban press. Bloggers are very interested in her agenda.

The Cuban Triangle, who trusts that the focus of the trip will remain economic, raises the issue of the Mariel port project and says of the possibility of Brazilian companies investing in ethanol production in Cuba:

Let’s hope that’s the case. Brazilian investment in Cuban ethanol production would bring world-class technology and know-how to Cuba, generate jobs, enable Cuba to cut oil imports and foreign exchange expenditures, and provide sorely needed revival to an economically and culturally important sector of the Cuban countryside.

babalu is more interested in the statement by the President's special advisor, which suggests that her foreign policy “will emphasize human rights”. The post goes on to highlight a contradictory statement by Rousseff's foreign minister, which said that “there doesn’t appear to be a (Human Rights) emergency in Cuba” – to which the blogger quips:


Capitol Hill Cubans, meanwhile, posts a reminder of what it calls the President's “convenient memory lapse”:

In 1970, now Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff was arrested and tried for her armed opposition to that country's military dictatorship (1964-1985).

Yet, today, she's unwilling to meet or show solidarity with peaceful opponents of Cuba's military dictatorship during her visit to Havana.

In response to the foreign minister's statement, the blog writes:

We'd like to remind the Rousseff Administration that the International Committee of the Red Cross and the U.N.'s Special Rapporteur on Torture have unfettered access to the U.S. Naval Base in Guantanamo.

Meanwhile, the Castro regime has not allowed either of these international observers into Cuban prisons in its 52-year rule.

Moreover, it's fascinating how Rousseff sensed the emergency regarding human rights in Brazil during its military junta, which inexcusably imprisoned, executed and exiled tens of thousands of Brazilians — numbers stymied by the brutal Castro dictatorship in Cuba.

Finally, Yoani Sanchez (who incidentally is still waiting on permission from the Cuban authorities to travel to Brazil for the presentation of “Cuba-Honduras Connection”, a documentary in which she appears) weighs in, saying of the presidential visit:

Everything seemed neatly tied up: a fast timeframe, efficient, protocol, focused on economic themes, ending with her boarding her flight to Haiti. But something complicated it.

Several days before the Brazilian economist and politician landed at Jose Marti Airport, a young Cuban died after a prolonged hunger strike. The official media threw itself into presenting him as a common criminal…the radicalized discourse of power and the political temperature reached those levels where our rulers perform so well. In that context, the recently concluded Conference of the Cuban Communist Party became more an act of reaffirmation than of change, a statement of unity rather than an opening. Many who were waiting for an announcement of political transformations of great significance, realized that the event was, instead, the ultimate lost opportunity for the generation in power. One day after its closure, Raul Castro — General Secretary of the only permitted party — received Dilma Rousseff, the former guerrilla who today leads a country with diverse political forces and a highly critical press.

Brazil is our second largest trading partner in Latin America, but it’s not just a question of resources. The Raul regime also has the urge, at this time, to be legitimized by other presidents in the region. So there will be smiles, handshakes, commitments to ‘eternal friendship’ and photos, lots of photos. The civic activists, for their part, will attempt a meeting with the woman who was tortured and imprisoned during a military government, though there is little chance that she will receive them. Dilma Rousseff will converse with Raul Castro, she will be very close to him at exactly this delicate juncture in which chance has placed her. We hope she will not miss the opportunity and will comport herself consistent with the clamor for democracy, instead of opting for a complicit silence before a dictatorship.

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