In a blast from the past of the cold war era, Moscow and Havana are renewing bilateral ties. But it's business not politics that is the driving force this time around.
Cuba wants Russian business to help in the economic development of the island, the vice president of Cuba’s Council of Ministers Ricardo Cabrisas told RIA Novosti on Tuesday.
"I see clear perspectives: there’s a will and determination from the Russian side and Cuba is responding. We need Russia's participation in the economic development of Cuba," he said.
"We recently took the first steps in Russian participation in the very important areas - energy and metallurgy. These are two fundamental areas for economic and social development of the country,” added Cabrisas.
On November 2, Cabrisas held a meeting with Deputy Russian Industry and Trade Minister Georgy Kalamanov and Russian First Deputy Minister of Economic Development Aleksey Likhachev on the sidelines of the Havana International Trade Fair, a commercial forum in Cuba and the Caribbean.
Moscow and Havana are currently cooperating in civil aviation and energy. Russia is also revamping Cuba's power plants. In October, the Kremlin ratified an agreement to provide generators at the Maximo Gomes and Este Habana power plants in Cuba.
According to the Russian government website, the Maximo Gomes power plant in Mariel municipality will be equipped with a 200 MW unit, while Este Habana in Santa Cruz del Norte municipality will have three 200 MW generators installed.
Post by TsarSamuil on Dec 10, 2015 22:47:27 GMT -5
Opposition wins majority in Venezuela parliamentary elections.
RT.com 7 Dec, 2015 05:16
The opposition has won Venezuela’s parliamentary elections, taking control of the legislature from the governing socialists. President Nicolas Maduro has recognized the “adverse” results of the vote.
The opposition Democratic Unity Roundtable coalition got 99 seats in the country’s parliament, while the United Socialist Party of Venezuela, founded by the late President Hugo Chavez, won 46 seats.
A total of 19.4 million Venezuelans were eligible to vote. The electoral commission recorded a turnout of 74.25 percent.
It is the first time in 15 years that anti-Chavez parties have won a majority in the legislature, which comprises 167 deputies.
Opposition leaders expressed their joy at the outcome, with Henrique Capriles, one of the coalition’s leaders, tweeting: “The results are as we hoped. Venezuela has won. It's irreversible.”
The new parliament is set to start its work in January 2016. Its term lasts for five years.
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, 53, rapidly acknowledged his party’s defeat.
"We are here, with morals and ethics, to recognize these adverse results," Reuters reported Maduro as saying in an address to the nation. He blamed an "economic war" against his government for the results.
Last month in the runoff of the Argentinian presidential vote, Daniel Scioli, backed by the outgoing president, Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, lost to opposition candidate Mauricio Macri, who will take office on December 10.
Rosneft projects in Venezuela unaffected by election results – VP.
RT.com 9 Dec, 2015 09:18
All Rosneft energy projects in Venezuela remain in force, despite the elections results, according to company Vice President Mikhail Leontyev. On Sunday, Nicolas Maduro’s United Socialist Party lost parliamentary elections.
The opposition Democratic Unity Roundtable coalition got 99 seats in the country’s parliament, while the United Socialist Party of Venezuela, founded by the late President Hugo Chavez, won 46 seats.
"Our work in Venezuela is long-term and strategic and this is obvious, since we are talking about one of the most promising regions in terms of oil reserves and the world's largest oil company," Leontyev told Sputnik news agency.
He added that Rosneft projects in the country were "based on legally impeccable contracts and commercial law.”
On Monday, Russian business media RBC reported that Rosneft recommended its employees leave Venezuela in the aftermath of the ruling party’s loss.
Leontyev described the report as "a cheap provocation”.
"During 16 years of cooperation with Venezuela there have been 19 elections, and if we had stopped work after each of them we could not have worked anywhere," he said.
Rosneft and Venezuela's state-owned energy company PDVSA are working on five joint projects in the country. The total oil reserves of these projects are estimated at more than 20.5 billion tons.
According to the head of PDVSA Eulogio Del Pino, Rosneft's investments in joint projects in Venezuela could reach $1.3 billion in 2015.
Post by TsarSamuil on Dec 29, 2015 10:11:12 GMT -5
that is a looong flight..
Cuba: First ever direct flight from China to Cuba touches down in Havana.
Ruptly TV Dec 28, 2015
The first ever direct flight between China and Cuba landed in Havana on Monday morning. Chinese tourists and returning Cuban travelers were treated, upon arrival, to complimentary drinks and greeted by a band playing traditional Cuban music.
Chinese tourist Yong Xing Sun said the new route is "very important for tourists" as it saves "about 15 hours" off their traveling time.
Fellow arrival Cuban Oscar Hernandez Heredia talked up Beijing, saying the people there "were very nice to Cubans" and interested to know about the country.
Argentina’s new govt pushes claims to Falkland Islands on UK, seeks ‘peaceful and lasting solution’
RT.com 4 Jan, 2016 05:53
Argentina’s new conservative government has reaffirmed its claim to the Falkland Islands, which the British insist are theirs. It has called on the UK to discuss a “peaceful and lasting solution” to the sovereignty dispute.
On Sunday, Argentinian President Mauricio Macri’s center-right government released its first official statement concerning the islands, which Buenos Aires refers to as Las Malvinas.
“For decades, the international community has considered the question of Las Malvinas as one of colonialism which must be stopped and has urged Argentina and the United Kingdom to find a peaceful and lasting solution to the sovereignty dispute through bilateral negotiations,” Argentina’s foreign ministry said.
Argentina said it “renews its firm commitment to peacefully settling its differences... and invites the United Kingdom to resume as soon as possible talks aimed at settling fairly and definitively, the sovereignty over Las Malvinas, South Georgia, South Sandwich Islands and the surrounding territorial seas.”
Buenos Aires claims it inherited the Falkland Islands from the Spanish crown in 1816, while London justifies its position saying it has continuously administered the territory since 1833, as well as the islands’ population, which is almost entirely of British descent.
Macri’s government assumed power last month after winning elections in November.
Post by TsarSamuil on Mar 22, 2016 16:03:04 GMT -5
US-Cuban relations: On the up-and-up or is more work necessary?
RT America Mar 21, 2016
President Barack Obama is in Cuba, where he pledged to improve relations with Havana. However, there is still much to be done. Cuban President Raul Castro called out the US for its human rights violations and demanded the closure of the US naval base at Guantanamo Bay. Is he asking too much? RT America’s Ed Schultz is joined by William LeoGrand, a professor of government at American University.
Raw: Obama & Castro Catch Baseball Game.
Associated Press Mar 22, 2016
Presidents Barack Obama and Raul Castro enjoyed the much-anticipated exhibition baseball game between the Tampa Bay Rays of Major League Baseball and the Cuban national team in Havana Tuesday afternoon. (March 22)
Last Edit: Mar 22, 2016 16:54:31 GMT -5 by TsarSamuil
Post by TsarSamuil on Mar 22, 2016 17:02:09 GMT -5
Russia to install four power generators in Cuba.
RT.com 22 Mar, 2016 09:50
Russian electrical power generating company Inter RAO has signed a deal with Cuba's Energoimport to install four power generators costing €1.2 billion.
According to the Russian firm, three generators will be for the Este Habana power plant in Santa Cruz del Norte municipality, the fourth will go to the Maximo Gomes power plant in Mariel.
Each of the generators will have a 200MW capacity, and are planned to be operational by 2022-2024.
One megawatt can provide power for about 1000 homes.
Under the agreement, Inter RAO and its contractors won’t have to pay tax and customs duties; the employees will also be exempt from paying income tax.
The project’s financing will be provided mainly by Russian export credits, according to Inter RAO.
It has been reported Russia would provide Cuba with a €1.2 billion 4.5 percent interest loan. Repayments would start after the generators begin operating, but no later than February 2025. Cuba will have to pay off the loan within ten years.
The agreement to provide Cuba with power generators was ratified by Moscow and Havana in October.
In July 2014 Russian power generating company RusHydro and Cuban state energy company Union Electrica signed a memorandum of understanding on modernizing and building new hydroelectric power plants in Cuba.
Post by TsarSamuil on Apr 24, 2016 10:53:26 GMT -5
CrossTalk: Brazilian Coup?
RT Apr 22, 2016
Brazil is in acute political crisis – the president has already been impeached by the country’s lower house of parliament, and now the Senate will decide her fate. We are told it is all about corruption in a country consumed by corruption. Critics claim this is a legislative-driven coup, and that forces within Brazil and abroad demand a return to the neoliberal economic model.
CrossTalking with Brian Becker, Pepe Escobar and Andrea Murta.
Brazil’s Rousseff likens impeachment to ‘coup,’ vows to fight back.
RT.com 23 Apr, 2016 13:05
Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff said the ongoing impeachment process against her has “all the characteristics of a coup.” She vowed to fight the charges and says that the process will have “serious consequences for the Brazilian political process.”
Speaking to reporters in New York on Friday, Rousseff asserted she was innocent of any wrongdoing and stressed that there was no “legal foundation” to try and ouster her from power.
"There is no judicial basis for this process of impeachment," Rousseff said. "I am not accused of crimes of corruption, diversion of public funds, nor do I have accounts abroad or any accusations of money laundering."
The Brazilian president said she is “a victim of a plot” and pledged to fight back, adding that she not let Brazil become a country “where democratic rule is broken.”
She blamed the impeachment attempt on corrupt politicians, aggressive media and disappointing economic growth. “Any country will face moments of growth, moments of contraction of growth,” she said.
The president warned that the impeachment would have “serious consequences for the Brazilian political process.”
Moreover, she threatened to invoke a special clause with the South American trade bloc Mercosur, which would suspend a member country if a democratically elected government is overthrown, as happened to Paraguay in 2012.
During her UN speech earlier in the day, Rousseff had avoided using the word “coup” and used a much softer tone.
On Sunday, a majority in the lower house of Brazil’s Congress voted to impeach Rousseff. The vote came as hundreds of thousands of Dilma’s opponents and supporters were rallying across the country.
She has been accused of using dubious accounting tricks to fund various welfare and other government programs before the last elections in 2014, which saw her re-elected. She has gone to great lengths to fight the charges, saying that these tactics are used not just in Brazil, but in a number of countries around the world.
“There’s no solid evidence anywhere Rousseff committed a “crime of responsibility”; she did what every American President since Reagan has done – not to mention leaders all across the world: along with her vice-president, the lowly Brutus, Rousseff got slightly creative with the federal budget’s numbers,” Pepe Escobar, an independent geo-political analyst told RT.
In line with Brazilian law, if the Senate votes to accept the impeachment, then a Senate trial would begin and Vice President Michel Temer will replace Rousseff for up to 180 days. In case the trial finds Rousseff guilty then Temer will succeed her.
However, the government is confident that the Senate will dismiss the impeachment, according to the presidential chief of staff Jaques Wagner, who rejected the vote as “orchestrated” by Rousseff’s opponents who never accepted her re-election.
Congressman Jose Carlos Aleluia, who watched her speech at the UN, said he is confident that the impeachment will go-ahead saying there will be no “setbacks.” He was sent to New York by lower house Speaker Eduardo Cunha, who is a major critic of the Brazilian leader.
"The accusations against the President are very serious. Her actions led to economic chaos, besides violating the Constitution," Cunha's office said in a statement.
There are questions regarding the integrity of Cunha, who was reported to have several illegal accounts in Switzerland, while he was listed in the Panama Papers and is currently being investigated by the Supreme Court.
Post by TsarSamuil on Apr 28, 2016 15:47:56 GMT -5
Buenos Aires settles decade-long standoff with bondholders.
RT.com 25 Apr, 2016 10:24
Argentina has paid $9.3 billion to all of its holdout creditors, ending the country’s 15-year court battle with them.
The payment was made using money from last week’s record-breaking $16.5 billion debt issue which marked the country’s return to global credit markets for the first time since 2001.
The issue of new bonds was approved by the Argentinian Senate last month as a way to pay off creditors who refused to participate in the country’s debt restructuring. Under the terms of the deal, the government had to pay $4.65 billion to US hedge funds.
Buenos Aires had previously reached a settlement with several bondholders for $250 million and €185 million.
“We have put a definitive close to this chapter,” Argentina’s Economy Minister Alfonso Prat-Gay told the media.
The country’s legal battle with its creditors goes back to 2005 and 2010 when Argentina suggested debt holders swap bonds at a steep discount of up to 70 percent off their par value. It was hoped the move would ease the country’s financial crisis following its 2001 default on $100 billion in bonds. While 93 percent of bondholders agreed on lesser-valued bonds, others, including some US hedge funds, refused to participate and went to court.
Unlike current Argentinian President Mauricio Macri, who made settling the dispute with bondholders a top priority for the country, the previous government of Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner refused to negotiate with the holdouts. Kirchner called them "vulture funds", warning they would never get more than 30 cents on the dollar.
“If you are at war long enough, it’s very difficult to shift to a mode of peace,” said a New York lawyer and the dispute’s mediator Daniel Pollack who played a central role in the final negotiations.
According to the US Attorney General and Federal Judge Michael Mukasey, Pollack "was capable of keeping some room for maneuvering when he needed it.”
“I think what he did was a real tour de force. I don't think the case could have been resolved without him," Mukasey added.
Post by TsarSamuil on May 14, 2016 11:46:53 GMT -5
Brazillian Impeachment Is Actually A Corporate Coup.
The Young Turks May 12, 2016
In a significant blow to democracy, the leader of Brazil has been impeached. There was an intense corporate media propaganda campaign against her, and now she’s being replaced by neoliberals brought in to impose austerity. Cenk Uygur, host of The Young Turks, breaks it down. Tell us what you think in the comment section below.
"Brazil's interim President Michel Temer called on his country to rally behind his government of "national salvation," hours after the Senate voted to suspend and put on trial his leftist predecessor, Dilma Rousseff, for breaking budget laws.
Temer, a 75-year-old centrist, told Brazilians to have "confidence" that Latin America's biggest country would overcome an ongoing crisis marked by a deep economic recession, political volatility and a sprawling corruption scandal.
"It is urgent we calm the nation and unite Brazil," said Temer, after a signing ceremony for his incoming cabinet. "Political parties, leaders, organizations and the Brazilian people will cooperate to pull the country from this grave crisis."
He charged his new ministers with enacting business-friendly policies while maintaining the popular social programs that were the hallmark of the 13-year administration of the leftist Workers Party.
The change in government marks a dramatic political shift in Brazil, where Rousseff, who has been in office since 2011 and was heading the fourth consecutive term for the Workers Party, was hobbled by the downturn, the corruption scandal and a political opposition determined to oust her.”*
Venezuela's Maduro: Rousseff Impeachment Trial 'Made in the USA'
May 13th 2016, by Ryan Patrick Mallett-Outtrim
Puebla, Mexico, May 12, 2016 (venezuelanalysis.com) – Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro condemned Thursday impeachment proceedings against Brazilian leader Dilma Rousseff, describing them as an attack on Latin America's left.
“Today, the first phase of a coup to end the era of popular leaders has begun,” Maduro said during a televised speech.
Just hours earlier, Rousseff was suspended from office, after Brazilian legislators voted to put her on trial for budgetary discrepancies. Rousseff has denied any wrongdoing, and described her removal as a “farce” and “coup”.
“The most brutal of things that can happen to a human being is to be condemned for a crime you didn’t commit,” she told reporters in Brazil.
Pointing the finger at “Powerful oligarchic, media and imperialist forces,” Maduro claimed Rousseff's suspension was “Made in the USA”.
“The coup in Brazil is a grave and dangerous sign for the future stability and peace of all the continent. I know they're coming for Venezuela now,” he said.
Venezuelan opposition leaders have vowed to remove Maduro from office by the end of the year, possibly through a recall referendum.
Maduro's government has already lost one close ally in recent months, after Argentina elected right-wing businessman Mauricio Macri in presidential elections late last year. In Brazil, Rousseff's Workers Party has long held close ties with Maduro and his predecessor Hugo Chavez.
Rousseff has now been replaced by an interim president, her former political ally-turned rival Michel Temer. On Friday, Temer called for national unity, after appointing an all male, all white, pro-business cabinet. Since Rousseff's removal, Temer has already dissolved the country's human rights ministry, along with ministries for women and racial equality.
Brazil's acting president used to be US intel informant - WikiLeaks.
RT.com 13 May, 2016 14:43
Brazil's new interim president, Michel Temer, was an embassy informant for US intelligence, WikiLeaks has revealed.
According to the whistleblowing website, Temer communicated with the US embassy in Brazil via telegram, and such content would be classified as "sensitive" and "for official use only."
Two cables were released, dated January 11, 2006 and June 21, 2006.
One shows a document sent from Sao Paolo, Brazil, to - among other recipients - the US Southern Command in Miami. In it, Temer discusses the political situation in Brazil during the presidency of Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva.
Regarding the 2006 elections, when Lula was re-elected, Temer shared scenarios in which his party (PMDB) would win the elections.
He declined to predict the race, however, but said there would be a run-off and that "anything could happen."
Temer said the PMDB would elect between 10 and 15 governors that year, and that the party would have the most representatives in the Senate and thus the House of Representatives. This would mean that the elected president would have to report to PMDB rule.
"Whoever wins the presidential election will have to come to us to do anything," Temer reportedly said.
Temer has replaced Dilma Rousseff, who was suspended from office earlier this week, after the Senate approved impeachment against her.
Rousseff was suspended from her post for at least 180 days after senators voted 55 to 22 to punish her for manipulating budget data, ahead of her re-election in 2014.
The left-wing politician claimed that Brazil was in a strong economic position, but since she convincingly won the vote, the economy has unraveled, putting Brazil in the worst recession for decades.
‘Made in USA’: 3 key signs that point to Washington’s hand in Brazil’s ‘coup’
Russia Insider May 18, 2016
Regime change in Latin America: Why Russia is concerned?
Dmitry Babich, RT 18 May, 2016 14:24
A Russian diplomatic call to outlaw the US-sponsored policy of “regime change” is timelier than ever following recent events in Latin America.
The developments there are now routinely described as ‘institutional’ coups d’état, with popular presidents removed from power and replaced by neoliberal functionaries, enjoying almost unhidden support of the US government and American financial capital.
“What we see in the world now is an attempt by the so-called historic West to preserve its dominance in international affairs,” Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov said at a conference on Latin American development, held in Moscow. “Latin America is not an exception to this global trend. We see attempts by the United States to interfere directly into the internal affairs of some countries in the region… Argentina, Brazil, Venezuela are just the most recent examples.”
Last week, Brazil’s leftist President Dilma Rousseff was removed from power by a very unpopular group of senators, despite having the votes of 54 million citizens, who expressed their will a year and a half ago. Rousseff was removed because of accusations of corruption. However, even the mainstream media in the United States did not consider these accusations to be well founded.
The New York Times, on the eve of Rousseff’s ousting, called accusations against her “debatable” and added that “Ms. Rousseff is right to question the motives and moral authority of the politicians who were seeking to oust her.”
In 2014-2015, a similar campaign of personal attacks and ‘character assassination’ took place in Argentina against that country’s leftist president Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner.
In both cases, the US-preferred candidates somehow managed to get to power posing as the only viable alternatives to the ousted women leaders. In Brazil, the former vice-president Michel Temer took the reins of power without elections. Mr. Temer, whose popularity in Brazil is in single digits, has already started what RT’s expert on Latin America Juan Manuel Karg called a “realignment” of Brazil’s foreign policy. That “realignment” is supposed “to move Brazil closer to the United States and to the EU with or without Mercosur” (a bloc integrating the markets and economies of Latin American countries).
“It is worth noting that the foreign policy program of Temer’s party PMDB from 2015 does not even mention BRICS – Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa – an important bloc of countries which Brazil played an important role in founding in 2009,” Juan Manuel Karg writes on RT’s Spanish page.
PMDB, which stands for the Party of Brazilian Democratic Movement, is a loose union of centrist and rightist forces, which never took more votes than Ms. Rousseff’s Workers’ Party. Temer himself has a disapproval rating of 58 percent in Brazil.
New Argentinian President Mauricio Macri also did not seem to be keen on following Fernandez de Kirchner’s policy of discovering new horizons for Argentina in China and Russia. During her tenure between 2007 and 2015, Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner several times met with Russian presidents Vladimir Putin and Dmitry Medvedev, allowed RT Spanish to be included in the set of TV channels accessible for Argentina’s broadest television public, and expanded trade ties with Russia. This policy so far has not been continued under Macri.
In Venezuela, the situation is even clearer: the US makes no secret of its support for the “anti-chavista” opposition to President Nicolas Maduro, the successor to leftist leader Hugo Chavez, who gave his name to “chavizmo,” an ideology combining oil sales to the US with spending the proceeds from these sales on social development.
The American media gives full support to anti-chavista opposition, despite its role in violent street protests, which have claimed the lives of several dozen people. “The US policy of support for violent protests is inexcusable, since Venezuela is not a dictatorship. The country has many anti-Maduro media outlets, people have been given a chance to elect the majority of President Maduro’s critics into parliament,” explains Andres Izarra, a cabinet minister in Mr. Maduro’s cabinet in 2014. “The Venezuelan government suggested dialogue with the government of the United States, we wanted a compromise. But Washington simply has no policy towards Latin America except the so-called regime change.”
But why is Russia concerned with US pressure on Latin American countries? Seemingly, Moscow’s economic interests are not focused on that region. The share of Latin American countries in Russia’s foreign trade, with the notable exception of Venezuela, remains relatively small; it is still dwarfed by Russia’s trade with the EU or with China.
But the point is that in recent years it became absolutely clear to Russian diplomats that the policy of “regime change” in Latin America, Syria, Ukraine and – last, but not least – Russia itself, is conducted by the same people in Washington D.C. and in Brussels, and the same technology is being used for the purpose. Therefore, the events in faraway Brazil may have a direct impact on the developments in Russia.
“Attempts to “seat out” US-led color revolutions in other countries are simply not wise,” says Joshua Tartakovsky, a US-based foreign policy analyst, who recently visited both Venezuela and Ukraine. “Sooner or later, the American enthusiasts of regime change plan to go after all the regimes which even potentially can challenge American domination. First, they will do it in the Western hemisphere, but it won’t take long before they come to Russia, China and India too. The only way to survive for BRICS is to come together and act together – before it is too late.”
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, unlike the official representatives of India and China, openly says that he sees the West’s attempting to bring about a “regime change” in his country. In Latin America, only the Venezuelan foreign minister has similar courage to face the facts, while the others prefer the Tartakovsky-described tactic of “seating out” the storms of Washington-inspired revolutions.
“I listened to the Western leaders who announced economic sanctions against Russia,” Lavrov said at a meeting with foreign policy experts in autumn 2014. He referred to the aftermath of the US-sponsored Ukrainian coup in 2014, which ousted the centrist Ukrainian President Yanukovich and led to a civil war.
“These Western leaders openly said that sanctions should be applied in a way that would cripple Russia’s economy and lead to popular protests. So, the West is sending us a message: we don’t even want to change the policy of the Russian Federation; we want to change the Russian Federation’s regime. In fact they are not even denying that desire of theirs.”
How far will Russia go in its support for independence of Latin American countries? Who and how can shield them from the policy of “regime change” conducted by their powerful northern neighbor? Obviously, Lavrov is not under the illusion Russian can guarantee such independence alone. At the 69th General Assembly of the United Nations in autumn 2014, the Russian foreign minister suggested making a special UN declaration on the inadmissibility of the policy of “regime change” and on “non-recognition of coups as methods of changing state power.”
At the time, the Brazilian leader Dilma Rousseff did not openly support Lavrov’s suggestion, even though she was present at that UN General Assembly. Earlier, in 2013, she even made an indignant speech at the United Nations about the NSA’s eavesdropping of Brazil’s representatives at the UN and even on the office of the president of Brazil.
Rousseff might regret not seizing the opportunity to act against “regime change” then. Now it appears to be too late – for her and, most likely, for Brazil.
Dilma Rousseff: Old Brazilian oligarchy behind ‘coup’ (FULL INTERVIEW)
RT.com 19 May, 2016 18:58
Unseated Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff has spoken to RT in her first TV interview since being suspended from office by the country’s Senate. She says that the old Brazilian oligarchy is behind the impeachment process, and vows to fight the “coup.”
RT: Hello and welcome to The Interview. Today we undoubtedly have a very special program, as we have the great honor to interview the President of Brazil, Madam Dilma Rousseff. She’s going through a difficult time now, and it’s a difficult time for Brazil as well. Madam President, thank you very much. I’d like to thank you for your time and for the trust you have in RT – thank you so much.
Dilma Rousseff: Thank you for giving me this opportunity to address the Russian people.
RT: Before we start talking exclusively about political issues, my first RTuestion, if I may, is more personal. Currently you’re staying at the Alvorada Palace, in exile of sorts in your own county. How do you feel about that? I’m asking because many Brazilians are asking me this RTuestion in the streets. They want to know how you feel and whether you feel strong enough at this difficult hour.
DR: I’m fairly optimistic. I keep fighting not only to remain President, but also – and first and foremost – for the democratic rights in my country. To tell you the truth, I don’t intend to stay cooped up in my official residence, the Alvorada Palace. I want to go to many Brazilian cities and meet many people. This way I can tell Brazil, and maybe even the entire world, about what’s really going on in the country and how we intend to counter what we believe is a coup attempt.
RT: Speaking of the impeachment, the coup and the trial, I’d like to ask you – is this basically a soft coup, without weapons and violence? Moreover, to which extent do you think this coup is aimed against you, and to which extent not only against Brazil, but against its allies, say, the BRICS countries?
DR: I think it’s an impeachment process, to remove me from the office. Our Constitution provides for an impeachment, but only if the President commits a crime against the Constitution and human rights. We believe that it’s a coup, because no such crime has been committed. They put me on trial for additional loans [from state banks]. Every president before me has done it, and it has never been a crime. It won’t become a crime now. There is no basis for considering it a crime. A crime has to be legally defined. So we believe this impeachment is a coup, because it’s clearly stated in the Constitution that only a crime of malversation can serve as basis for impeachment. The actions currently under scrutiny do not, strictly speaking, fall under that category. Besides, Brazil is a presidential republic. You can’t remove a president or a prime minister who hasn’t committed a crime. We’re not a parliamentary republic, where a president can dissolve the congress, which, in turn, can call for a vote of no confidence out of purely political reasons. So it’s impossible to impeach a president in Brazil based solely on political reasons or political distrust. We believe that what’s happening now in Brazil is an attempt to replace an innocent president involved in no corruption-related legal proceedings in order for the politicians that lost the 2014 election to control the state bypassing the new election. That’s what’s happening. This is an attempt to replace the entire political program that includes both the social and economic development aspects and is aimed at tackling the crisis that Brazil has been going through in recent years with a program clearly neoliberal in nature. This program provides for minimizing our social programs in accordance with the minimal state doctrine. This doctrine is at odds with all the Brazilian legal norms regarding healthcare, construction and ensuring that our people have their own houses, availability of high-RTuality education and minimum wages guaranteed to the poorest part of the Brazilian population. They want to do away with these rights and at the same time they conduct an anti-national policy, for example, when it comes to Brazil’s oil resources. Significant subsalt oil reserves, lying 7,000 m below the surface, were discovered recently. The ministers were saying that exploring these reserves was impossible, but now we’re extracting a million barrels daily from subsalt oil reserves. Undoubtedly, they were saying that thinking to change the legislation in order to guarantee access to these reserves to international companies. Moreover, in terms of foreign policy, starting from Lula da Silva and throughout my presidency, we have been seeking to strengthen ties with Latin American, African, BRICS countries and other developing nations, in addition to the developed world – the US and Europe. I think that BRICS is one of the most important multilateral groups created in the last decade. But the interim government holds different views on BRICS and the importance we place on Latin America. They are even discussing the possibility of closing embassies in some African countries. We have very special relations with Africa. Brazil is the country with the highest percentage of population of African descent in the world, second only to African countries. We have a lot of people of African descent, so over the last few years we’ve been putting particular emphasis on our relations with the African countries, and not only Portuguese-speaking ones. This shows a wider approach to the world, as opposed to the traditional one, supported by those who have usurped the power now and are taking steps that are at odds with the program approved by the Brazilian people, by 54 mln votes, on the day I was elected.
RT: You’ve touched upon a number of subjects. Let’s go back to some of them later, in particular the social programs and the polyethnicity, which are handled differently by the interim government. Let’s talk about that later, but now, if I may, let’s discuss in more detail how what’s happening in Brazil is affecting the entire continent. We’ve heard what many leaders think about it, for example, Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa referred to it as the second Operation Condor. Do you think that’s true? Are there external powers seeking to shift the political balance in Latin America?
DR: It could be an attempt to change the political landscape in Latin America, taking into consideration the important role that Brazil plays in the region. But I’d like to point out one thing – this process is taking place inside Brazil and is controlled by Brazilian forces whose interests obviously lie inside Brazil. Current events can’t be ascribed to some external interference. That would be wrong, since that’s not what’s happening. But of course, we’re talking about such a key player in the regional and international political arena as Brazil, and when in a country like that different political forces come to power it could benefit a number of players.
RT: You’ve said that before, but recently there’ve been reports, for example, from WikiLeaks, that in 2006, when Mr da Silva served as president, current interim president Michel Temer had contacts with the US Embassy in Brazil. This figure would be beneficial to the interests of Washington and large banks. He was vice president in your government. First of all I’d like to ask you – was it noticeable that Temer had such interests? And what changes should we expect from someone like him being in power?
DR: No, Vice President Temer showed no sign of it. Yes, according to WikiLeaks he did have such contacts. I don’t think that it was politically appropriate, it’s wrong to have such contacts with representatives of foreign countries. But I’ll say again that I don’t believe external interference is a primary or a secondary reason for what’s happening now in Brazil. It’s not. The grave situation we see now has developed without any such interference. This coup is not like usual coups in Latin America, which normally involve weapons, tanks in the streets, arrests and torture. The current coup is happening within the democratic framework, with the use of existing institutions in support of indirect elections not stipulated in the Constitution. This coup is carried out by hands tearing apart the Brazilian Constitution. So we don’t know what kind of repercussions this will lead to, considering that an impeachment without repercussions would only be possible in the case of a committed crime. If there is no crime, an impeachment is illegal. And since it’s illegal, it’s a serious problem for the interim government. I’m living proof of this unlawfulness and injustice. It also means that they can’t forget about it; they staged a coup and they can be called usurpers, which is a very strong word in the political sphere.
RT: Speaking of Brazil’s political problems, we’ve already mentioned Michel Temer’s government, and we’ll go back to that later. But here’s what I want to ask you. This is an interim government led by an interim president supported by mere 2% of the population. There is information that could launch an impeachment process against him. His cabinet consists exclusively of white males, and that’s in a polyethnic country. Some ministers are being investigated on charges of corruption. How legitimate is such a government?
DR: The legitimacy is not there because of the original sin (sic), by which I mean the process resulting from blackmail. The very same President of the Chamber of Deputies that launched the process is accused of having accounts abroad, corruption and money-laundering. This process bares the sores of Brazilian democracy and leads to dismantling the government structure that we had. I didn’t appoint him vice president or head of the interim government so that he could create a government made up exclusively of white people, with no women or people of African descent in it. A government that would disregard one of the most important institutions that serves as the foundation of the Brazilian identity – the Ministry of Culture. Culture has a direct bearing on the national issue. In a country such as ours, with such ethnic variety, culture is a unifying factor that allows everyone to express themselves within that variety, which is why what’s going on now is so regrettable. It’s not only about the loss of civil rights and liberties, but I would even say it’s a violation of the national issue due to the decreasing role of the ministry. Another interesting thing about this government is that today they’re adopting a measure, and tomorrow they’re changing it – they haven’t been elected, so they don’t have a legitimate program. They haven’t presented it during the election campaign and they haven’t participated in debates about it. This program hasn’t been approved by the population. So the government makes absurd statements. For example, they say that we need to get rid of some parts of the Brazilian healthcare system. In accordance with the 1988 Constitution, the system guarantees free and universal healthcare. The interim government wants to shrink the system and make some healthcare services the competency of private firms. The government is creating these controversies to see how the people will react, and a day later they change their stance, but they’re bad at concealing the tendency – their purpose, really – to implement the most neoliberal program possible.
RT: Are you saying that they’re trying to feel the population’s pulse, so to speak?
DR: Their actions include an aspect that I would call a mix of inability to govern and feeling the pulse. Both those things are present.
RT: Do you feel proud of the Brazilian people? You spoke about the Brazilian culture, about the demonstrations in major cities that sent a clear message to the government that Brazilian culture is not to be touched? At the Cannes film festival, too, the filmmakers reinforced the same message.
DR: That’s the most important thing, the spontaneous demonstrations of the ordinary people, of artists, of those who do it anonymously, who feel dissatisfied with what happened. I’m talking not only about my mandate, but this experiment on democracy, this loss of rights. I was very touched by the demonstration in Cannes staged by our director who made ARTuarius, and other demonstrations. Recently a theatre in one Brazilian town had a Carmina Burana performance with a political message that condemned the interim usurper government.
RT: There are some reports indicating that the interim government might revoke 75 of your bills and the Workers' Party amendments made to the legislation in the course of the last 13 years. I would like to ask whether you have noticed that your vice-president not only wasn’t on board with what you were doing, but was actually against it?
DR: It became clear only recently. During my first presidential term and at the beginning of the second one it wasn’t clear. But at a certain point of time it became obvious that the vice-present had views on inappropriately usurping the presidential power. It happened because he didn’t have enough of his own power to do so.
He needed an alliance with the president of the Chamber of Deputies who held part of the Congress under his control, and that president initiated the impeachment process. He did so for a very simple reason, i.e. because he himself was to be investigated by the parliamentary Ethics Committee, and he needed three votes. These three votes were with the ruling party, and he didn’t get them. Then he made a public announcement, which was circulated by all the media, that he was going approve the impeachment process proposed by the opposition. That was pure blackmail.
Even the initiator of the impeachment process himself told the press on an impulse that he considered the actions of the president of the Chamber of Deputies to be “obvious blackmail” and that he approved and launched the impeachment process because he couldn’t get the three votes he needed.
Yet, there were forces in Brazil which supported the move – the old Brazilian oligarchy which never put up with the fact that the poorest layers of the population recently got access to the privileges and services they never enjoyed previously: such as traveling by air, having increased incomes, getting public services.
It’s clear that there is still a lot to be done. Obviously, we are fighting the crisis that hit all developing countries, including Russia, China, as well as Brazil, after it had earlier hit the developed countries that are in fact responsible for the difficulties we are going through now, even though with some delay.
All this results in an alliance of the media and the disgruntled business sectors, because any crisis inevitably brings up a distribution problem, i.e. a matter of who is going to pay for the crisis, and, obviously, that sector of the centrist party which is currently fully controlled by Brazil’s right-wing forces.
RT: This impeachment scenario, that you have just so well explained, does need the media to work, which invites my next RTuestion, prompted by what I heard a lot here – what is the role of the media in Brazil? It is mostly controlled by a handful of owners, isn’t it? And we also heard that the media in the country reflects the interests of the few. What changes would you like to see happening to the mass media in Brazil?
DR: We have always been discussing the issue of the democratization of mass media in Brazil. By this, I mean economic regulation of the media.
We do not want to control anyone or anyone’s views. What we want is to avoid the oligopoly situation where the media outlets are financially controlled by a few Brazilian families and have become a destabilizing factor in the democratic process in Brazil – this is exactly what we see happening now.
Brazilian media are not critical, they are very biased. There is a huge difference between the international and the local media. To give you an example, Brazil’s local media have been traditionally RTuite moderate in their presentation and attitudes towards my government and my party, as well as the allied parties, compared to how they usually cover the interim government. And yet, all of a sudden, the interim government got favourable media presentation with no criticism, despite all the controversies, inconsistencies and strange situations.
RT: Getting back to what’s going on in the streets of Brazil, it’s our third visit to the country, and we have seen its major cities and some of the rural areas and have heard some very different opinions. Of course, this is democratic to have different, even opposing opinions on important matters, but in addition to that there is one thing that I noticed – the fear, the concern that a large layer of the more vulnerable population might lose those privileges and rights that they recently obtained. For example, the federal program, ‘My house, My Life’ embraces 46 million Brazilians. Huge numbers of the citizens have moved up about the poverty line during the past decade. And although the acting president wrote on Twitter that he won’t do it, we see the interim government taking measures that will result in freezing the construction of 11,000 new residential buildings. If this comes true, the program will be reduced down to 10% of its original scope, so is there a risk of many Brazilian families falling back into extreme poverty again?
DR: Beyond any doubt, I consider “My house, My Life” to be one of the world’s most important programs supporting low-income families. We have planned to build about 4.2 million homes, and this process cannot be stopped. 2.6 million houses have already been built, and the rest are on track for completion. In addition to these 4.2 million homes, our project’s plan includes yet another 2 million houses, and it is these houses that they threaten to cut down from the plan. And this is very bad. Why so? If we look at the social integration process in Brazil we’ll see that it begins with the redistribution of incomes. If we fail to guarantee accessible education, healthcare and housing we can’t change the conditions the poorer people live in. We have a saying that the end of poverty is just the beginning of the way, and it’s a way to more rights and new processes. One of these rights is the most important of all; that is the right to have a house, because a house is a place for a family to raise its children. And the target audience of ‘My house, My Life’ program is the younger generation. Our children and the youth get to benefit from the improved environment, receiving better care and education, and a better RTuality of life. The same is true for the “Family Allowance” program which covers 47 million people. Who benefits from it? What’s its goal? This program guarantees minimal income to the poorest families. Whose interests does it have at its heart? Mainly, interests of the children. Why children? Because the way the program is designed, a family needs to meet two main criteria. In order to get the allowance, the family’s children have to attend school. That’s the precondition for the governmental support, and we run checks to make sure that children are in school. If that proves not to be true, that family is removed from the benefits list.
It is very important that a child goes to school. Also all children must be vaccinated, they should get their shots regularly, we have to make sure that our kids are immunized against all major diseases. What is the result of our program? Numbers indicate that children’s health is improving, childhood diseases are getting contained. In fact in this respect we have reached the level that our country had never been able to attain before now. Children do better at school. Thanks to the program that we’ve had in place for 13 years, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations has excluded Brazil from the list of countries living in extreme poverty. In 2014, for the first time Brazil was excluded from the list of the poorest countries in the world. We have achieved all these results thanks to ‘Family Allowance” and other education programs. We have also made it possible for more young people in our country to get access to higher education. We grant RTuotas to the poor, people of African and Indian descent, and also those who went to public schools. This initiative made it possible to have ethnic diversity at our universities. Recently we implemented changes that made higher education more accessible. Since several programs were set up in that area, we were able to expand the pool of opportunities significantly. We have opened more universities and colleges. Now a child from a regular working family could become a doctor – we even have a song about it. I think this is a huge achievement for our country. We have reversed the social situation in Brazil. The country itself is not what it was when we came to power in 2003.
RT: Many Latin American leaders are concerned with what is going on and try to influence the situation in one way or another. But as they expressed their support to you they got a harsh reaction from Brazil’s new foreign affairs minister Jose Serra. What do you have to say about this reaction and the tone Serra chose for his communication with international leaders? And I also wanted to ask you if any of the Latin American leaders contacted you personally to express their support?
DR: I think that a diplomat should not behave this way. These issues reRTuire a dialogue, a discussion. I regret that a representative of my country displayed such rude behavior demonstrating intolerance. I think that while we are going through this process we need to be open to the dialogue with Latin American countries. Many international leaders are concerned that the situation that we now have in Brazil could also happen in their states, because they are democratic nations. Special research shows that after the 1990s there was a lengthy period when there were no coups in Latin America. Now that period is over and we are facing a wave of impeachments. I received a number of phone calls that lifted my spirits because they were from the international leaders I used to work with. I won’t name them, but there were several presidents who called me. I don’t want to give their names because I didn’t ask for their permission and I don’t want this to influence the relations between their states and Brazil.
RT: You don’t want to contribute…
DR: I don’t want my words to become a reason for some diplomatic action. I think that the head of the nation and ministers have to be very wise when relating to foreign countries. You must not badmouth a president even if they have a different opinion. You cannot do that, it is simply wrong from any point of view, and it is applicable to any government. Also, conservative governments are known for their caution in matters of diplomacy. So I think it is a major mistake made by someone who doesn’t have much experience in this area.
RT: You are a politician devoted to your nation… Your country will soon host the Olympics – this event is very important for Brazil’s image. You were involved in the process from the very beginning. What are you going to do now since you won’t be able to be part of this as president?
DR: I was involved in this process. First, when we won the bid and were granted the right to host the Olympic Games. This was back when Lula da Silva was president, and I was the one who signed the document that assigned different obligations. When I became president we began to prepare for the Olympics. Frankly, my government is to be thanked for everything that was done in that area – my ministers worked very hard. Our goal was to make sure that the Olympics in Brazil would be the best. I will be very sad if I am not able to be part of it. I hope that I will participate in this grand event as the president of the country because I am still one.
RT: This brings me to my last RTuestion. Is there still a chance that we will see you as the national leader of Brazil?
DR: This is my answer to your RTuestion – I will fight every day, every minute and every moment of my life to make sure that it happens. And I am convinced that many Brazilians support me in this aspiration.
RT: This is a good way to finish our interview. Thank you, Madam President.
DR: Thank you!
Brazil’s Rousseff ousted by media boycott, conspiring businessmen – ex-president Lula to RT.
RT.com 20 May, 2016 22:21
Brazil’s elected leader, Dilma Rousseff, was brought down by a media boycott and businessmen who avoided paying taxes to harm the public purse, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, Brazil’s former president, told the Entrevista program on RT Spanish.
RT: Thank you very much, Mr. President, for finding the time to meet with RT.
Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva: I would also like to thank the international media for its interest in Brazil and the current political discussion with respect to the impeachment [of President Dilma Rousseff]. I’m very happy that I’ll have a chance to tell you what I think about the things that are happening, or have happened, in Brazil, or may happen in the future. I think Brazilian democracy is very young; it is only 31 years old. This is the longest period of democracy in the 500 years of Brazilian history. Yet the conservatives thought that 31 years is enough and decided to overthrow democracy, which they did. By overthrowing democracy, these people denigrated Brazil in the eyes of the world, because the world expected Brazil to do much better.
RT: A little over a week ago, we saw you standing behind President Dilma Rousseff. You were backing her at a difficult time – difficult for her, for Brazil, and for your party. Can you tell us how you felt on the day Dilma was suspended?
L: Frankly, I didn’t want to get involved. I didn’t want to be in that picture, because I think it was cruel. It was basically a crime against Brazilian democracy when Dilma had to step down before the end of her term. I stepped down five years ago, in 2010, at a wonderful moment when Dilma was elected president of the Republic. And I felt very bitter on the day of her impeachment. It was a very sad day for me. It was not just about the president resigning early. Our dream plan collapsed; the plan for integrating society. The plan which showed the world that it is very easy to rule the country and address poverty issues when the needs of the poor are taken into account in the state budget, if you don’t consider it merely as a statistic or a social issue, but really think about people, human beings with rights and responsibilities. All this came tumbling down before my eyes. So I was very angry. And yet I was very calm, preparing for the future because I think that the people who support this plan will soon come back to power in Brazil. The poor people have barely learned to use social benefits, and somebody is already trying to pry them out of their hands. So, to me, frankly, it was a day of wrath. It was very hard on me, and I wish I could stay out of those events. I did what I did out of solidarity with Dilma. I didn’t want her to be alone at such a difficult time. I wanted to show to her opponents that the country would fight back. We have a long way to go before the people of Brazil can enjoy the same standard of living as many other countries around the world.
‘Interim government abusing power granted by Senate’
RT: This was certainly a very powerful image, an image of unity. Curiously, your answer is very similar to what Rousseff herself told RT just on Thursday: that the situation is difficult but the fight has to go on. This process started, and it may take 180 days, six months, or less. What are the legal mechanisms for reinstating Dilma?
L: I think this is a mistake, misunderstanding – what the media say every day, and what the government does. What really happened in Brazil is the Chamber of Deputies initiated a process with the Congress, and we believe it was for purely political reasons, because there were no constitutional violations. The Senate voted in favor of allowing the impeachment process. What this means is that the Senate will now hear the charges brought against President Dilma. But there is no proof that she did anything illegal. Then there will be a vote. The government should have acted as an interim government, because in 20 days, or a month, or two or three months, there will be a vote, and senators may change their minds, and so the interim government will have to go, and the legitimate government will once again be in charge. So, I don’t think the interim government should act as if it were a permanent one, as if the impeachment has already taken place and Dilma has been stripped of presidency. This hasn’t happened yet. So, I think the interim government is abusing the power it received from the Senate. In other words, the Senate put the interim government in charge of the country while Dilma is suspended. It’s as if she is temporarily out of the country. But the interim government acts as if it was appointed permanently. It wants to replace all the ministers, and if the Senate votes for Dilma in three months, she will have to start from scratch. And the country can’t afford that.
Also, I think this was a coup pulled off by the current government based on the Senate’s decision, and I think it will hurt our country immensely. I think we need two kinds of popular movements today: first, many people are ready to take to the streets, because the way the current government conducts itself has offended artists, intellectuals, union members, Afro-Brazilians, etc. I won’t make a judgment about it because it is up to the government to make this judgment. When I was president, I didn’t allow others to make judgments about the people I appointed as ministers. But I think the government is a very poor role model for the people. So we have to take to the streets and ask people to put pressure on the government, demanding that Dilma be reinstated. She may change the way she runs the country; she may present a new economic program to the people of Brazil and discuss it with senators. Basically, Dilma has to convince six senators to vote for her. I think it is quite possible. So, we will do our best to bring peace and democracy back to Brazil, and to have a directly elected government. If people are all in agreement, we will have a general election. We’ll convene a constituent assembly, which will vote for a political reform. In a word, we have our work cut out for us. One thing we can’t accept and agree to is that in the 21st century we have an illegitimate government in control of Brazil.
RT: If I understand you correctly, this coup is directed not only against the President, but against the very vision she has promoted?
L: I believe this is a coup directed against Brazil’s fledgling democracy. You can’t remove a president from power just because you don’t like her ideas and opinion polls suggest she’s not very popular. We need to learn to respect the will of the people of Brazil. The people had voted for Dilma, she had won an election, beating her opponent by a margin of 4 million votes. And even if she had beaten him by a single vote, she still would have been the elected head of state, according to the rules of democracy. The way I see it, Brazil’s business elites and media establishment have effectively denounced those rules. Democracy, in their understanding, is when they get to decide who gets to run the country and who should step down. I believe Dilma has been targeted by a clique of media heads and business people, who didn’t pay taxes to make the government collect less tax revenue.
Besides, we also need to acknowledge that mistakes have been made, and those mistakes have hurt us. I am particularly referring to Dilma’s second presidential term. You see, we had won that election running on a specific agenda, but once we were in office, we started doing things we had promised not to do. This has affected the working people, and it has been very damaging for us. It was a disastrous mistake, and Dilma is aware of that. Once she is back in power, she will have to rectify it and promote her original agenda in order to be able to have a majority of Brazilians back her policies.
RT: One way or another, Brazil needs a change, including a reform in the Worker’s Party that would enable the creation of an inclusive political movement, which would include, say, labor unions. Don’t we need a change to meet the needs of the people of Brazil?
L: I believe a lot of things need to change in Brazil. First of all, we need radical political reform, which should be spearheaded by the National Congress. But given its present set-up, the Congress will do no such thing. So we need to convince the people of Brazil to have a referendum on electing a constituent assembly by popular vote in order to carry out political reform. You just can’t run the country the way the National Congress has been doing it, so that’s got to change.
Secondly, we need the kind of economic policies that would encourage growth. We are going through a global crisis right now, but a large country such as Brazil should not be affected as much as it is, because we have a vast domestic market that is very strong, and we have enormous investment potential. The way things are today, the government is unable to collect taxes, and businesses are reluctant to invest in the economy for lack of political stability. Banks are similarly unwilling to invest and issue loans. Both the federal government and local governments don’t have the money to invest in the economy. So what we need to do is enable economic growth, and I believe that Brazil can do a lot by virtue of its sheer size. Let me give you an example. At the start of the global financial meltdown in 2007, the United States had a sovereign debt that amounted to 64.7 percent of its GDP. Today, it’s 105 percent. You see, they had to increase their sovereign debt so that the government would have the money to stimulate economic growth. We have a similar situation in Brazil. An economy our size could afford to have a sovereign debt of up to 65 percent, and that would not be a problem, as long as that money is invested in building infrastructure and creating facilities that would enable the economy to generate profit. What we shouldn’t do is use debt to finance government spending. But it should be used to invest in the economy and build things like motorways, railroads, airports and seaports.
I believe that in a country where 35 percent of the people live below the poverty line, it is a mistake for the government to think those 35 percent are the only ones it should care for. We have proved that the poor are not the problem. Once we entitled poor people to minimum income, we saw an unprecedented surge in the standard of living in our country, never seen before in human history. Brazil provided a groundbreaking example for the world, a model for getting 36 million people out of poverty over an incredibly short period of time, and promoting some 40 million people to the middle class.
RT: And the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has acknowledged that achievement.
L: Yes, FAO had to acknowledge it. I have delivered a lot of lectures in other countries, in Latin America and Africa, explaining that the best way to provide for the poor is to include them in your budget plans. That is, when drawing up a budget, you have to plan for part of it to be used for the poor.
‘Many didn’t like Brazil becoming important international player’
RT: Do you think that with the current interim government or a new neoliberal government all these social achievements might disappear?
L: That is a possibility. Of course it is not so simple. But it could happen because if we follow their logic – and this has already been mentioned several times in the media – there are people who want to reverse all these social advances. I think this a terrible, colossal lie. Rich people will not gain from going back and making others poor. On the contrary, if we create better conditions for the poor, the rich will get more profits which in turn will benefit the middle class – and there will be more justice, better jobs, as well as less crime, illiteracy, and hunger in the country. I know that many people don’t like this idea. Many don’t want to accept the idea that just in 12 years we made higher education available to more people than they did in a 100. How could it be? How is it that in 12 years we opened more colleges where students can learn a trade than they did in a century? I cannot believe that a minister in the Brazilian government could say that by investing in education we spend too much. This is the best investment in the nation’s future that one could think of. And this kind of investment has a very quick return, which makes our country more competitive, improves the quality of our products, and enhances our performance. I have always thought that education is vital for the wellbeing of our country. And that’s why the only Brazilian president without a university degree, I am talking about myself, built most of the universities in this country. And I suspect that some people in the Brazilian elite don’t like this.
RT: In your opinion, who does this movement report to? Many say that some external forces don’t want to see Brazil the social state that it was under the Workers’ Party government. Do you think there has been some outside interference?
L: It’s possible. Look at what happened in Egypt or Turkey. There have been periods in Brazil’s history when external forces united against our country in order to stop it from becoming an international leader. I remember how Brazil surprised the G8 nations by holding the uranium talks with Iran. That would’ve been a much better deal than last year’s agreement signed by the US and Europe. But they could not accept our proposal because Brazil was not a global player. Brazil was not a leading nation. We could not play any significant role in international affairs, and that was very sad. Many didn’t like the fact the Brazil had become a global player with significant influence in Latin America. They didn’t like our country severing ties with the FTAA (Free Trade Area of the Americas) after Mercosur was established.
RT: Or after BRICS was established…
L: And the Union of South American Nations, the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, the IBSA (India, Brazil, South Africa) Dialogue Forum. Brazil has also taken part in top level meetings in South America, South Africa, and the Middle East. Many people did not like it. Imagine a party attended by only white people with blue eyes. And suddenly a Brazilian crashes the party. Of course he will not receive a warm welcome from everyone. I remember how President Chirac invited me to the G8 summit in Evian-les-Bains. The King of Saudi Arabia and Mexico’s President Fox were also there. Suddenly I saw a world I had never seen before. Here I was – surrounded by President Bush, Japan’s Prime Minister Junichirō Koizumi, Tony Blair, and Gerhard Schröder. And I thought to myself, I am just a lathe operator who used to work at a factory… It is incredible that I am part of this world now. I was so proud to attend that summit. All other national leaders had a far better education. They didn’t know anything about the working class which was my background. They had never been to a factory, lost a job, or lived in flooded streets. They had never woken up to discover waist-deep water in their house. They never knew hunger. And I went through all that. I was proud that even without a university degree I knew something they didn’t. I felt more comfortable thinking about the people I represented at that summit. I spoke for the voiceless. I spoke for those who couldn’t even dream of ever having a say in political matters or heading up a state. It was one of very few cases when a person of humble origin could rise to their level. I guess not everybody liked it. But Brazil began to receive invitations to the G8 summits. The G20 nations now took Brazil into account as well. I think some may not have liked it very much.
I can’t really tell if there is external pressure, but maybe somebody will be able to figure it out in the future.
‘I’d rather not run for President in 2018’
RT: According to WikiLeaks, the current acting president was in contact with the US Embassy back in 2006, at the time of your presidency.
L: I read about it. It so happens that many things come to the surface with delay. In any case, I’m convinced that Brazil is a great country with a great potential. And I believe that more often than not the government of Brazil missed out on its chance of success because of its erroneous idea that the United States can help everyone. Everyone wants to export to the US. But the US also wants to export its products. Everyone wants to export to China, but China is also interested in running exports. Everyone wants to export to Germany, but Germany also wants to export. So what kind of policy did we chose? We chose to look into the potential of our relations with other countries – to look at what can be done in relations between Brazil and Venezuela, Brazil and Angola, Brazil and Mozambique, Brazil and Argentina, Brazil and Peru, Brazil and Bolivia; to look at what we can do to unlock that potential; to see where we depend on each other and where we can be useful to each other. These are things that we made the foundation of our foreign policy. And it wasn’t only in the area of trade cooperation. We also need to approach our relations in terms of logistics, geopolitics, and participation in international forums.
The current head of the World Trade Organization is from Brazil, the current Director-General of FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations) is also a Brazilian. That’s because we succeeded in working out a clearly-defined policy and win the trust of people. Brazil cannot afford viewing Cabo Verde, Bolivia, Nicaragua, and Mozambique as trade partners only. We need to acknowledge our historical debt to the African continent, which cannot be repaid with money, as it cannot be measured in money. Only our solidarity and readiness to share out the most advanced technologies can in some way make up for it. Thus, Brazil’s participation in construction of an antiretroviral drugs production facility in Mozambique is an example of our aspiration to repay our debt to the people of Africa for everything they did for our country for the 300 years of slavery. These are the principles that make up the foundation of our foreign policy, and they are completely at odds with the current minister’sofficial statement about his plans to strike up a bilateral relations deal with the United States. But will the United States accept all that Brazil is willing to export? The United States is looking to export itself, not to import. And it looks like our interim government fails to understand that, and that they still have to learn a great deal.
RT: And I would like to ask you more of a personal question in conclusion of our interview. The next presidential election in Brazil is scheduled for 2018. Is there chance of us seeing you run for president?
L: I would say it’s a yes and no; first of all, because I am not the only person involved in this decision-making. I am a member of a political party which consists of multiple movements, trade unions and civil society, and it’s the party that makes the decisions about our future actions. I do hope that we can prepare enough candidates ready to fight for this post. As for myself, to be honest, I would rather not run. I already served as president. I have had this experience, and I believe it was a positive one. I think we need new people at this stage. However, if there is anything that might encourage me to try again, my health permitting, it is the opportunity to restore the social integration project which is the best thing that happened to our country in the 21st century.
Last Edit: May 21, 2016 3:27:35 GMT -5 by TsarSamuil
Bolivian President Morales Hopes to Boost Economic Cooperation With Russia.
LATIN AMERICA 22:40 02.06.2016
Bolivia hopes to enhance economic cooperation with Russia by attracting Russian investments and loans as well as by gaining access to the Russian technologies, Bolivian President Evo Morales told Sputnik in an interview.
LA PAZ (Sputnik) – Morales spoke in favour of boosting multilateral cooperation between Russia and Bolivia.
ECONOMIC COOPERATION WITH RUSSIA
"We want to get access to the subject of investment, credit and technology from Russia. Russia's presence is not only important in Bolivia for us, but also in Latin America, and will provide us with guarantees of economic emancipation," Morales said in the interview.
In particular, the Bolivian president welcomed Russia's energy giant Gazprom as a partner to participate in gas and oil projects developed by the country’s companies.
"We have many companies working in Bolivia as partners, they were owners before, in the filed of hydrocarbons in particular. But not now. We are partners… Gazprom is welcome as a partner of our companies, this is the model we have, and we agree," he said, adding that Bolivia hopes to sign agreements with Gazprom at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF) in June on the exploration of six gas fields in the country.
President Morales invited Russian companies to participate in Bolivian electrical projects, saying that the country might become a great energy power but needed foreign investments to achieve that.
"If any Russian private or state company wants to invest as a partner of Bolivian companies, [this is] welcome… Of course, these large-scale projects we have we cannot develop alone. We understand this. We need the presence of foreign investment. If we tell Russia 'welcome,' then it will have investment in Bolivia guaranteed by the [Bolivian] Constitution," the president said.
He also said Bolivia would increase financing the joint construction of a nuclear center with Russia's Rosatom.
The Bolivian president also noted that the country plans to return to the topic of purchasing Russian helicopters for the fight against drug trafficking.
CRITICISM OF US POLICY
President Morales also criticized the US policy obstructing Russian and Chinese business in Bolivia.
"I am very sorry about the policy of the United States which aims at obstructing new investment by new, developed, industrial countries, such as China and Russia. This is a policy of persecution, which uses available 'tools,' they are also the Bolivians, but have a pro-imperialist, pro-capitalist orientation, they are used to prevent Chinese and Russian investment in Bolivia," he said.
He explained that the United States, in contrast to Russia and China, imposed conditions for its investments offering loans in exchange for privatization of Bolivian companies and natural resources.
Morales said Bolivia had rejected the US offer and chose nationalization as a model of economic development.
Speaking on the possible recognition of Crimea's reunification with Russia, Bolivian President Evo Morales told Sputnik that Bolivia would always be with Russia against the US aggression.
"In the face of any US aggression against Russia, we are always together with Russia. Whether it is political, economic, geographic, or military aggression, Russia may count on Bolivia, on our support… We all are anti-imperialists here, [we] support the anti-imperialist countries with all our means. Above all, [we] respect Russia and admire it," he stressed.
Morales called himself a president with the largest number of implemented decisions in the Bolivian history. He said that he wanted to make basic service accessible and to increase the added value of the Bolivian natural resources.
The Bolivian president also said he wanted to continue his service to the Bolivian people despite the defeat at the February referendum on the constitutional amendment, which would allow him to seek his fourth term in office in 2019.
Morales concluded by saying he would hold a new referendum on the issue, which would be constitutional.
Brazil’s media ‘incited protests,’ favored Rousseff’s impeachment from start – Greenwald.
RT.com 4 Jun, 2016 07:23
Brazil-based US journalist Glenn Greenwald, who broke the story on NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, said Brazilian media is owned by a few families that have a clear political interest in pushing President Rousseff out by “inciting street protests.”
“What makes Brazil so different in terms of its media is that the largest media organizations are almost entirely owned by a very small number of families. It was for a long time. Three, four, now it is five,” Greenwald told RT’s agency Ruptly during an event in Rio de Janeiro on Thursday.
“They all have the same interests, they have very close ties to the political class, they have clear political interests that are not the interest of the overall population. There is very little inhibition about using the media outlets for political activism.”
Thus, he said, it is not surprising that the majority of Brazil’s media coverage was one-sided and supported President Dilma Rousseff’s impeachment from the start. In fact, the media has been “inciting street protests” against Rousseff, he said.
“There was a recording released just last week from the senior senator on the opposition and a new minister in which he said that the media was insisting on Dilma's removal and her exit so I don't think there is any question that the media has been almost entirely on one side of the debate at the expense of actual journalism here in Brazil.”
When it came to US involvement, Greenwald could not confirm anything specific, but referenced the alleged role in the Brazil's coup in 1964. He pointed out that the US has a record of staging coups and not taking responsibility for them for years, adding that apparently, American politicians are benefiting from the current situation in Brazil.
“There is certainly a much closer relationship between Washington and the new government than it was between Washington and the elected government. And there is a lot closer of ideological affection that the US government has for the new government and the old government. So certainly they are happy with the result, even if they weren't a direct participant of what had happened,” Greenwald said.
The journalist spoke on the day he published an article doubting the interim President Michel Temer’s credibility after a new eight-year ban from running for office.
A regional election court in Sao Paulo published a formal decree, making Temer “ineligible” to run for any political office after he was found guilty of spending more of his own funds than is allowed by the law.
“And now, he has been formally convicted of violating election laws and, as punishment, is banned from running for any political office for eight years,” Greenwald wrote.
The journalist added that the whole impeachment quest was a power grab. “It has been obvious from the start that a core objective of the impeachment of Brazil’s elected president, Dilma Rousseff, was to empower the actual thieves in Brasilia and enable them to impede, obstruct, and ultimately kill the ongoing Car Wash investigation (as well as to impose a neoliberal agenda of privatization and radical austerity),” Greenwald wrote.
Temer’s presidency has already been marred with scandal and protests.
Transparency minister Fabiano Silveira resigned on Monday, after a leaked tape suggested he tried to derail corruption investigations into Petrobras. Temer's secretary is also accused of taking bribes.
On Thursday, clashes erupted in Sao Paolo, with police deploying tear gas and rubber bullets on protesters voicing their opposition to Temer.
The protesters spoke out against the May suspension of Rousseff. The move has been dubbed a coup and many claim Temer planned for Rousseff’s downfall to stifle a corruption investigation into Petrobras, Brazil's state-owned oil enterprise.
Currently, Rousseff awaits an impeachment trial in the Senate on charges of administrative misconduct, disregarding the federal budget, and corruption. Speaking RT last month, Rousseff called the impeachment a “coup” organized by the old Brazilian oligarchy. She vowed to fight the process using all available means.
Post by TsarSamuil on Jun 21, 2016 16:40:28 GMT -5
Russia to develop production facilities in Cuba.
RT.com 21 Jun, 2016 10:24
The development of production facilities and supplies of products are the key sectors of Russia’s cooperation with Cuba, according to Deputy Industry Minister Georgy Kalamanov.
“Cuba is the market where we will work in the nearest future," he told TASS on Tuesday at the Cubaindustria-2016 congress and exhibition.
Kalamanov said the two countries agreed a number of deals last year, including the supply of Kamaz trucks. “The first Kamaz cars will be delivered to Cuba by the end of the year,” the official said, adding it would be a significant volume.
He also said the sides plan the delivery of locomotives to Cuba and intend to set up a joint repair facility in the country. Service maintenance of Russian aircraft delivered to Cuba is another important aspect of cooperation, according to the deputy minister.
Cuba may become a "window" to Latin America for Russia, according to Kalamanov. "We hope Cuba will be the hub for supplies of products to Latin America in certain areas."
Moscow and Havana are currently cooperating in civil aviation and energy. Russia is also revamping Cuba's power plants. In March, Russian electrical power generating company Inter RAO signed a deal with Cuba's Energoimport to install four power generators costing €1.2 billion ($1.36 billion).
Each of the generators will have a 200MW capacity, and they are planned to be operational by 2022-2024. One megawatt can provide power for about 1,000 homes.
Russia will reportedly provide Cuba with a €1.2 billion loan at 4.5 percent interest. Repayments would start after the generators begin operation, but no later than February 2025. Cuba will have to pay off the loan within 10 years.
35,000 Venezuelans cross Colombian border to buy food, medicine.
RT.com 17 Jul, 2016 18:44
Some 35,000 Venezuelans entered Colombia to buy food and medicine after Venezuelan authorities briefly opened the border between the two countries following a year-long shutdown amid a severe economic crisis.
Colombia’s foreign ministry said that the Venezuelans arrived “in an orderly manner and under conditions of security,” AP reported.
The governor of Venezuela’s state of Tachira, Jose Vielma, said Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro had approved the opening and warned that people should not be “disturbed” when entering Colombia.
The border remained open for about eight hours on Saturday and is set to re-open on Sunday.
The Colombian defense minister, Luis Carlos Villegas, said “we have made a great effort to have sufficient supplies” for Venezuelans.
However, some businesses in the Colombian border city of Cucuta were taken by surprise as tens of thousands poured into the country because it had been announced earlier that the border would be open only on Sunday.
This is not the first time the border between the two countries has been opened. Last week, the border was open for 12 hours, allowing about 35,000 people to go through.
Before the border was sealed, over 100,000 people used the two main crossings every day. Afterwards, the number dropped to 3,000 people per day, most of them students and ill people who were provided with special day passes. The numbers were provided by non-profit organizations working in the area, as quoted by AP.
Venezuela has been affected by falling oil prices and seen severe shortages of basic goods for months.
President Maduro has accused his opponents of causing the economic chaos to ensure his ouster, while his opponents accuse his government of severe economic mismanagement that has forced people to cross the border to buy basic provisions.
Venezuela closed the border about a year ago in order to crack down on smugglers of goods and gasoline.
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Aug 3, 2018 10:18:31 GMT -5
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Oct 10, 2018 12:53:50 GMT -5
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