Trump support Brazil's Bolsonaro for OECD membership, but after Argentina's Macri

Washington, October 11 (RHC)-- U.S. President Donald Trump and his top diplomat said on Thursday they supported Brazil's taking steps toward joining the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), although it is first backing accession by Argentina.

Trump said in a Twitter post that a joint statement he released with Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro in March "makes absolutely clear that I support Brazil beginning the process for full OECD membership."

"The United States stands by that statement and stands by @jairbolsonaro," he said.  In a letter to OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurria in late August, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo backed the bids by Argentina and Romania but made no mention of Brazil, despite Trump's endorsement in March.  Pompeo said in a statement earlier on Thursday: "The leaked letter does not accurately represent the United States’ position with respect to OECD enlargement."

"We are enthusiastic supporters of Brazil’s entry into this important institution and the United States will make a strong effort to support Brazil's accession," Pompeo said.  Bolsonaro, who has held Trump up as a role model, has touted U.S. support for Brazil's OECD bid as one of the achievements of his nine-month-old government.

Standing next to Bolsonaro outside the White House on March 19, Trump announced his support for Brazil to become a full member of the OECD, a forum of three dozen democratic nations with solid market economies.

Bolsonaro played down the U.S. support for Argentina on Thursday, saying OECD accession was a drawn-out process and it could take Brazil up to a year and a half to become a member.

"We're almost there, but there were two countries in front of us, Argentina and Romania," he said in a Facebook live webcast to supporters.  In Latin America, only Chile and Mexico are in the club, while Colombia is on track to join soon.

Edited by Ed Newman
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Protests to greet G7 leaders as they talk Amazon fires, trade

The leaders of the G7 club of rich countries meet in southwest France on Saturday, a gathering clouded by the burning Amazon, diving stock markets and their own stark divisions, giving little grounds for optimism.

US President Donald Trump, who landed in France around midday, faces a mass protest outside the Atlantic resort of Biarritz where the summit is taking place, though 13,000 police have been deployed to keep them far from view.

Thousands began rallying Saturday some 30 kilometres (20 miles) south of the G7 gathering at the border town of Hendaye for a march over the Bidassoa River toward the Spanish town of Irun.

Red, white and green Basque flags waved above a crowd that included anti-capitalists, environmental activists as well as a few dozen of France's "yellow vest" anti-government protesters, according to AFP journalists at the scene.

"It's important to show that people are mobilised and do not accept the world they're offering us," said Elise Dilet, 47, of the Basque anti-globalisation group, Bizi.

Police said 17 people had been arrested as of Friday night amid clashes with protesters camped out near Hendaye.

The summit was already shaping up to be a difficult encounter with Western relations badly strained by Trump, but images of billowing smoke above the Amazon rainforest have lent it a new, even darker mood.

AFP/File / Nicolas ASFOURI Summit talks will also be dominated by US President Trump's trade war with China

"The Amazon is burning and it's something that concerns everyone," Macron told the Konbini website on Friday.

He has led international pressure on Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro over the fires, telling him Paris would block efforts to seal a major trade deal between the EU and Latin America.

He has called for emergency talks at the G7, which runs until Monday, to find "concrete measures" to tackle the crisis.

"We are going to try and mobilise everyone to raise funding for reforestation as quickly as possible," Macron added on Friday.

- Trade threat -

Talks in the beach resort, known for fierce rainstorms that blow in from the Atlantic, will also be dominated by the darkening clouds over the world economy.

Wall Street stocks tanked on Friday after Trump escalated his trade war with China that is seen as responsible for a global slowdown.

AFP / Key facts on the G7 member countries, ahead of a summit in Biarritz, France on August 24-26.

"We don't need China and, frankly, would be far... better off without them," Trump tweeted on Friday, saying US companies were "hereby ordered to immediately start looking for an alternative to China."

His outburst came after China imposed tariffs on US imports worth $75 billion in response to an earlier round of American measures.

But Trump hit back immediately, raising tariffs still further.

"We see trade tensions as the single most important threat to global growth," a top EU official told reporters ahead of the G7 summit on condition of anonymity.

And as he left for Biarritz, Trump also fired a salvo at France, threatening to slap heavy tariffs on its wine in response to its move to impose a sales tax on tech giants like Facebook, Apple and Google.

"Those are great American companies, and frankly, I don't want France going out and taxing our companies. Very unfair," he told reporters outside the White House.

"And if they do that, we'll be taxing their wine... like they've never seen before."

- Johnson debut -

Though the Amazon fires and trade will dominate the agenda, the G7 meeting will also be the full international debut of British Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

He will meet Trump for the first time as leader and is expected to discuss the UK's impending exit from the European Union, which the US president has enthusiastically backed.

AFP / Ben STANSALL The summit will also be a debut for Britain's new Prime Minister Boris Johnson

"My message to G7 leaders this week is this: the Britain I lead will be an international, outward-looking, self-confident nation," he said on the eve of the summit.

But though Johnson needs Trump's support for a free-trade deal, he is at odds with him on a range of issues including the Iran nuclear crisis, climate change and global trade.

"Trade tensions are unsettling the global economy," a British official told reporters. "There are differences with the US about how to resolve global trade imbalances."

Trump will find himself under pressure from the Europeans, particularly Macron, to ease off on his policy of "maximum pressure" on Iran over its nuclear programme.

Since pulling out of the landmark 2015 nuclear agreement limiting Tehran's nuclear programme, Trump has slapped crippling sanctions on the Iranian economy.

Macron wants him to put a "pause" on the policy, an aide said recently, which would enable talks to find a new diplomatic solution to the crisis.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif told AFP on Friday that Macron's "suggestions" to find a way out of the current impasse were "moving in the right direction."

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'Bolsonaro Should Not Offend The Argentine People', Lula Says

The Workers Party leader rejected Bolsonaro's offensive words against the winners of the primaries in Argentina.

Brazil's former President Luis Inacio Lula da Silva blasted the statement made by Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro about Alberto Fernandez's victory in the Argentinean presidential primary elections.

“I saw a speech by Bolsonaro against Argentina and the victory of Alberto Fernandez. I could not believe that a Brazilian President had such foolishness and sassiness to talk about his most important trade partner and strategic ally​​​​​ by offending the Argentine people and the man who won the primary elections,” Lula said in an interview granted from jail.​​​​ on Friday.

Last week, the far-right Brazilian President expressed his disgust at the electoral failure of President Mauricio Macri, a neo-liberal politician who lost by more than 15 percentage points in the elections held on August 11.

Besides describing   the winning candidates as "left-wing bandits," Bolsonaro said that Brazil will not welcome the Argentines when they begin to escape from their country due to the return of Peronism to power.

The Workers' Party (PT) leader also criticized the support Bolsonaro has provided to the Macri administration despite its poor economic performance.

"Does Bolsonaro think that Macri, who brought inflation to 74 percent, is good for Argentina? The one who increased the external debt to US$100 billion? The one who greatly increased the amount of people sleeping at the streets of Buenos Aires? For the love of God," Lula said.

"In an interview with journalist Bob Fernandes (TVE Bahia), which will be broadcasted today at 6:00 pm through social networks, President Lula said that [Jair Bolsonaro's Economy Minister ] Guedes wants to destroy the Brazilian economy and that it does not matter if he remains imprisoned until abuses committed against him can be demonstrated."

Regarding the return of the left to power in Latin America, Bolsonaro described critics of neoliberalism in inappropriate terms during a meeting in the city of Parnaiba.

“We will end the poop of Brazil. The poop is this race of corrupted and communists. In the next elections, let's sweep this red gang from Brazil. Since Venezuela is good [for this people], I'll send this gang there. Whoever wants a little further north will go to Cuba.

Lula da Silva explained that, once again, this sort of political discourse demonstrates the clear incompatibility between Bolsonaro's personal attitudes and the office he holds.

“Bolsonaro behaves like the chief of the hooligans. He doesn't want the team to improve. He wants conditions to continue booing and cursing. That is what he wants," the former leftist president stressed.​​​​​​​

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Prosecutors Reject Bolsonaro's Son as Brazil's Ambassador to the US

The Federal Public Prosecutor's Office filed a court order this Monday to block the appointment of federal Congressman Eduardo Bolsonaro, son of President Jair Bolsonaro, to the post of Brazilian Ambassador to the United States.

The Public Prosecutor's Office argues that it rejects such an appointment as a possible act of nepotism, even though it has already been approved by Donald Trump's government.

It details that the government follows criteria to choose ambassadors who are not career diplomats, such as recognized merit in diplomatic activities, relevant diplomatic services offered to the country and at least three years of experience in such activities.

The Brazilian Constitution prohibits the designation of a spouse or relative up to the third degree of consanguinity to exercise a post of commission or trust in any of the powers of the State.

However, the Comptroller General of the State considers that this interdiction only refers to the election of administrative posts, but not non-political offices, which is why it endorsed the appointment of Eduardo Bolsonaro as Brazil's official representative in Washington.

According to the Attorney General's Office, the post of Ambassador to the US is the most important in Brazilian diplomacy, and as such this appointment should be taken seriously and responsibly, regardless of family ties. It warned that in the past the appointment of persons without technical conditions for diplomatic missions has had negative repercussions for the country.

There is 'danger of harm if a person is named without adequate preparation to establish intense negotiations with foreign agents,' stressed the Attorney General's Office, which called to respect the technical criteria for choosing diplomatic chiefs.

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Diaz-Canel: Bolsonaro Lies about Cuban Doctors

President Miguel Diaz-Canel denounced that the Brazilian head of State, Jair Bolsonaro, lies about the Cuban doctors in that country, and acts with servility towards the United States.

President Bolsonaro lies again. His servility towards the #US is shameful. His vulgar slanders against #Cuba and the #MaisMedicos program will never deceive the brother Brazilian people, who know well about the nobility and humanity of Cuban medical cooperation. #SomosCuba, the Cuban president wrote on his Twitter account.

It was Diaz-Canel's response to Bolsonaro's statement that the presence of Cuban healthcare experts in Brazil was aimed at 'creating guerrilla groups'.

Since his electoral campaign, the Brazilian president has launched a frontal attack on the Mais Medicos program, in which Cuban physicians were rendering their services in Brazil's neediest communities, with positive results in health indicators.

Bolsonaro attacks on Cuban doctors caused Cuba to cancel its participation in that program.

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Bolsonaro says Brazil & US focus on creating ‘rift’ within Venezuelan army to oust Maduro

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro is not making a secret of his plan to bring down Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, saying in an interview that he and Washington pin their hopes on a military coup instigated from the outside.

Speaking to Jovem Pan radio on Monday, the right-wing Brazilian leader, who has never hidden his deep animosity towards his Venezuelan counterpart, implied that, while not intervening outright, both the US and Brazil are working behind the scenes to lay out the grounds for a military revolt that would bring down Maduro.

Also on ‘Get me a printer, paper & glue!’ Trump mocked over ‘homemade’ jersey gift for Bolsonaro....

“It is our intention and that of the Americans that there is a rift in the army, because it is they who still support Maduro. It is the armed forces that decide whether a country lives in a democracy or in a dictatorship,” Bolsonaro said, adding that he does not see any future for Venezuela in its present state.

“What you cannot do is to continue as you are,” he said.

READ MORE: Not a back door for US troops: Brazil says it won’t help Venezuela invasion

The US, which was the first to recognize the self-proclaimed ‘interim president’ Juan Guaido as the legitimate representative of the Venezuelan people, has been using arm-twisting tactics against Caracas, choking the Venezuelan economy with new debilitating sanctions in a bid to force Maduro out of power. US officials, including US President Donald Trump, have repeatedly claimed that they would keep “all options” on the table, not ruling out a military intervention in the Latin American country.

In an interview on Monday, Bolsonaro appeared to say that he might single-handedly decide if Brazil needs to join a potential US-led military incursion against the Maduro government.

“What can Brazil do? Suppose there is a military invasion there [from the United States]. The decision will be mine, but I will listen to the National Defense Council and then the Parliament,” Bolsonaro pledged.

Back in February, Brazilian Vice President Hamilton Mourão flatly rejected the possibility of Brazil serving as a staging ground for a US invasion. Mourão argued that, for foreign troops to be stationed in Brazil, Bolsonaro would need to receive a green light from the National Congress, which at present is reluctant to back such a militaristic move.

Since coming to power in Janaury, Bolsonaro, dubbed ‘Tropical Trump’ at home, has been cozying up to the US. During Bolsonaro’s recent trip to the country, he and Trump exchanged compliments and football jerseys, while marking the birth of a nascent ‘conservative alliance.’  

Bolsonaro mirrors Trump’s controversial policy in the Middle East, having made advances towards Israel. Late March, Brazil opened a business office in Jerusalem, which has been referred to as part of an embassy. Speaking on Monday, Bolsonaro labeled his country’s relationship with Israel “a marriage.”

“It’s like a marriage: you date, you get engaged, then you’re married, that’s in stages,” while pointing out that the US has gone much further down that road.

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Protests as Brazilian court doubles ex-president Lula’s jail term (PHOTOS, VIDEO)

Brazilian prosecutors have doubled former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva’s jail sentence following his second corruption and money laundering case. His supporters took to the streets in protest across Brazil Thursday.

Lula, 73, who led Brazil between 2003 and 2010, was convicted on corruption charges in 2017 and sentenced to 10 years in prison. He later had the conviction upheld in January 2018 for which he is currently serving a punitively extended 12-year sentence. Now, an additional 12 years and 11 months have been added to his sentence following this latest conviction.

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Close to 64,000 Violent Deaths in Brazil, a New Record

Brasilia, Jan 17 (Prensa Latina) Brazil broke the record of violent deaths in 2017, with 63,880 cases, according to data from the 29th edition of the World Report on Human Rights, released by a non-governmental organization and amplified today by local media.

That year, the deaths committed in this giant South American country by police in service and rest increased by 20 percent compared to 2016.

The investigation, which analyzed the situation in more than 100 countries, pointed out that in the chapter on Brazil the increase in police fatality after the federal intervention in Rio de Janeiro between February and December 2018 draws attention.

According to the source, from March to October, when citing data from the Institute of Public Security (ISP) of Rio de Janeiro, such point increased by two percent in the state, while deaths committed by police grew by 44 percent.

Recent official data indicate that the Brazilian police killed 5,144 people in 2017. In the state of Rio de Janeiro, 1,444 people died at the hands of police officers between January and November 2018, the ISP reported.

It indicates that President Jair Bolsonaro should address the public security crisis faced by Brazil through measures that reinforce respect for human rights and, at the same time, reduce crime.

He recalls that on his first day in office, on January 1, the ex-military dictated a decree in which he instructed the government secretary to 'supervise, coordinate, monitor and accompany the activities' of non-governmental organizations.

During his campaign, Bolsonaro promised to give a 'carte blanche' to the police to kill people who allegedly committed crimes.

The new governor of Rio de Janeiro, Wilson Witzel, who belongs to the Social Liberal Party (PSOL, Bolsonaro), recommended that the police should shoot to kill, without warning, against anyone carrying a rifle, even if the person it is not threatening others, and it also suggested that snipers and drones be used.

International human rights standards prohibit police forces from deliberately killing people, except when this is necessary to protect their lives or those of others.

Security experts warn that the death toll could rise after Bolsonaro signed a decree this week to relax the possession of firearms in the population.

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