U.S. Praises Brazil, Offers Technology Transfer for Fighter-Jet Purchase

Article excerpt

In just 18 months in office, Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff has replaced 12 ministers from the original Cabinet that took office with her on Jan. 1, 2011. The latest to leave, in mid-March, was Afonso Florence, a deputy whom the president had named to head the Ministerio do Desenvolvimento Agrario.

In none of the 12 cases was the dismissal related to poor job performance or to political differences. No, in all cases, the ministers had to resign because of their alleged participation in acts of corruption that were made public through denunciations--often without any proof--by a media almost unanimously lined up against the government.

"Once a suspicion is lodged against a person, it does not matter that the judiciary later finds them innocent. The damage is done, and that is what the opposition media aim for," said Sen. Vital do Rego, elected to head a parliamentary commission that will investigate the latest episode of corruption, this one proven, in which no minister's job is on the line but rather the opposition's credibility.

Perhaps Florence's resignation has much to do with the right's "need" to maintain a climate of distrust of the government, with the hope of undermining governing-party candidates' chances in the October municipal elections in which 136.5 million Brazilians will elect officials for 5,564 municipalities throughout the country.

Amid this media campaign, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton arrived in the capital Brasilia and, as soon as she arrived, heaped praise on Rousseff "for her fight against corruption." A week later, US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta arrived, and many commentators then believed they saw the reason for Clinton's lavish praise.

High-level delegations to Brazil have mixed motives

A columnist on the Web site Carta Maior wrote, "In September 2011--and in April of this year--[US President] Barack Obama received Dilma in Washington with full honors and even brought up the idea of holding these meetings on 'transparency' in government actions that later brought in Clinton as a participant. It is a cordial escalation. Then Panetta came, he told our military everything they wanted to hear, and we now know that what the US really wants is to sell us the planes made by Boeing."

On April 17 in Brasilia the first annual Open Government Partnership (OGP) Conference was held, a voluntary forum of governments and civil society, with the objective, according to Obama and Rousseff, of promoting mechanisms for citizen participation and combatting corruption in public administration. Clinton represented the US.

The meeting took place just as accusations hit the press regarding the connivance between the biggest capitalist of the underground game Jogo do Bicho (animal game) and several legislators of the rightist Democratas (DEM) party. Given the scant and insignificant impact that the issue of "open governance" had globally, the most anyone looked forward to was the secretary of state's participation.

After expressing pride in being a promoter of the initiative and before pointing out that the 21st century will be "an era of openness, transparency, accountability, freedom, democracy, and results for people everywhere," Clinton said, "There is no better partner to have started this effort and to be leading it than Brazil and, in particular, President Rousseff. Her commitment to openness, transparency, her fight against corruption is setting a global standard."

US making up for lost time?

Analysts who tried to maintain a certain impartiality toward both the government and the opposition (specifically, the media) said that the series of meetings that Carta Maior observed followed a precise logic: for many years, the US has neglected its relations with Africa and South America (with Latin America as a whole), two areas where Brazil has influence. In Africa, it has a strong presence in Angola, Mozambique, Cape Verde, and, in general, all the former Portuguese colonies. …