More on castro’s mordida in Brazil

What Was Castro Buying In Brazil?
Investor’s Business Daily
Editorial Page
Posted 11/3/2005

Latin America: Brazilians are rightly angry over allegations of illegal campaign donations from Fidel Castro. True or not, they coincide with an alarming weakness in foreign policy that benefits the Cuban dictator.

Was there a connection? We wonder for two reasons. First, Castro in recent years has aggressively sought influence across Latin America on a scale not seen since the 1960s. Second, Brazil has been oddly passive in response.

Fortified by the record-high oil earnings of his Venezuelan ally, Castro’s had a free hand to whip up anti-capitalism and anti-Americanism in a bid to confront the West.

Brazil is no dinky state. Its $794 billion economy is Latin America’s largest and the world’s 11th biggest. Its strong democracy of 186 million people can easily assert regional leadership. But it has looked the other way even when a pariah like Castro threatens its interests.

Among those interests are energy. Brazil’s GDP grew 4.9% last year, will expand 3.3% this year and has averaged 2.9% since 1993. Over the same 12-year period, its energy needs have grown 33%, raising the stakes as resources grow tight.

We’ve already noted how Castro has cranked up pork-barrel spending in Brazil’s neighbor, Bolivia, in the heat of its own presidential campaign. The largess is conditioned on votes for Castro’s favored candidate, Evo Morales, who wants to nationalize Bolivia’s energy.

If Morales wins, the biggest victim of his expropriations will be Brazil’s state oil firm, Petrobras, which supplies a major part of Brazil’s economic powerhouse, the Sao Paulo region, with natural gas. Petrobras’ investment is so large it makes up 20% of Bolivia’s economy.

Petrobras already has been a target there. Last May, a car bomb blew up at its headquarters in Santa Cruz, and leftist groups aligned with Castro have said their aim is to expel Petrobras from Bolivia.

Petrobras also was one of four foreign oil companies targeted in Ecuador last summer by organized pipeline-smashing leftists believed to be aligned with Castro and Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. Again, Brazil said nothing.

And Brazil certainly hasn’t challenged Castro’s ally, Chavez, who’s treated Petrobras as harshly as 30 other multinationals. This year Chavez bullied Petrobras out of the 1997 service contract it paid for and forced it to join a minority “partnership” with the state oil firm on unknown terms, giving up its right to international arbitration.

With its interests threatened, Brazil should have the diplomatic muscle to force Castro and his allies to back off. But for some reason, it’s held back, choosing silence when what’s required is leadership.

Such reticence is even more disturbing considering that Brazil hasn’t been afraid to speak up about neighboring states that have tried to defend themselves from Castro’s meddling.

In September, Paraguay endured Brazil’s wrath for its talks with the U.S. to establish a 400-troop presence, possibly to help with security, given the explosive situation in bordering Bolivia.

Instead of supporting Paraguay, Brazil said there was “no need” for such security and demanded that Paraguay disclose all its security plans with the U.S., something Castro would also like to know.

Did Castro’s campaign contributions, reported in Veja news magazine and said to total $3 million, end up compromising the foreign policy of President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva’s administration?

We don’t know. But if Castro’s cash bought anything in Brazil, it’s tragic because Lula was elected president as an un-Castro? a clean, responsible democratic leader. Brazilians hoped he’d be neither a corrupt machine pol nor a hard-core communist.

If a couple of influential aides took money from Castro and enacted a passive foreign policy, it paints a very different picture ? what old Soviet analysts used to call Finlandization.

When President Bush visits Brasilia this weekend, he should urge Lula to wake up about Castro and start acting as a credible force to counter his spreading influence. It’s not just outposts like Bolivia where Castro’s threatening democracy.

6 thoughts on “More on castro’s <i>mordida</i> in Brazil”

  1. Now, those Floridians who complain about the Cuban immigrants should be reminded that this is what those who live 90 miles away suffer all the time, that it is common in Cuba to be without electricity.

    This is also what Iraqis suffer, because the Terrorists constatnly sabotage the electrical service, and also make it dangerous for those who can repair it to work on the system.

    It’s not the fault of the U.S., but those who do not want us to succeed there. In Cuba, it is not the fault of the embargo, but the fact that castro and his henchmen simply do not understand that upgrading has to be planned for long in advance, not when things break down. Genius? Right! He qualifies if you ignore the fact that he’s a windbag and master manipulator.

  2. Mora,
    Maybe the decrepit tyranosaurius of Havana has some compromising video on Lula, one of his favorite modus operandi, and now he’s exacting “payment(s)” for whatever indiscretions may have been committed.
    As we all saw from those Maradona in the “Cuban clinic” photos posted in the Internet, who knows what else castro has on that bloated old gaucho wannabe gathered during his four-year stay on the island… maybe some action of the ex-soccer star “catching” some action from the goalie or from other members of the team!
    Ergo, the Argentinean butterball is now an “unconditional” lamebotas of the Cuban dictator. It will be interesting –and supremely disgusting– to watch Maradona backpedal from his positions once cagastro is gone. “Ch’e, yo no sab’ia nada de esas cosas… where’s my crack pipe?” may be a likely explanation.
    Personal extortion may be the case with Lula, as well, because we all know the level of corruption in his government.
    Let’s hope that George Bush can get some positive results during his upcoming visit to Brazil. Meo Deus, the continent needs it!

  3. as i told mora in emails, this story is getting alot of press in brasil, and the cry now, as always, is follow the money..while corruption is rampant in brasil, when it is uncovered, there is a cry from the people to get to the bottom of it.. this is one of those cases where it sems it just wont blow over and go away.. after a dictatorship that lasted from 64-83, the brasilians take the election process pretty seriously, voting is mandatory, and if you dont vote, you can lose many privilages (govt. benefits, affects your job/ education).. the fact that a foreign government, one of castros ilk at that may have actually influenced it has the people up in arms.. FYI: if it would have been a “CIA” donation to the rightist canidate, the uproar would be the same.. in the brasilians eyes, its bad that it was a country/person like castro who is involved, but to them, its worse that it may have corrupted the voting process they struggled many years to reinstate..

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