Photo: Brazil and Cuba in Diplomatic Talks
Cuban President Raul Castro received Tuesday his Brazilian counterpart Dilma Rousseff at the Palace of the Revolution, where they discussed the bilateral agenda as well as the founding of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, or CELAC, Cuba’s official media said.
As for CELAC, a new hemispheric body that excludes the United States and Canada, Rousseff told reporters before her meeting with Castro that the founding summit held last month in Caracas was one of the “most important” ever to be convened in the region.
Rousseff, on her first official visit to Cuba, opened the official activities Tuesday morning by placing a floral tribute before the monument to Cuban independence leader Jose Marti in the Plaza de la Revolucion.
Later came the official reception and the meeting with Castro.
While Rousseff’s 48-hour visit to the island will focus on economic and trade issues, human rights remain a constant presence in the background, though the Brazilian president is not expected to discuss the matter in Havana, according to Brazilian sources.
The issue has been an uncomfortable element on Rousseff’s trip since Brazil several days ago granted a tourist visa to dissident Cuban blogger Yoani Sanchez.
The prominent blogger asked Rousseff to intercede with Havana authorities to get her a permit to leave the country so Sanchez could attend the premiere of a documentary in Brazil.
Asked about that on Tuesday, Rousseff would only say that “Brazil gave the blogger her visa, but the rest is not within the jurisdiction of the Brazilian government.”
The “big commitment” that Brazil can make to Cuba is “to help develop the whole economic process” on the island, where the Communist government is promoting a plan of reforms that includes a timid opening to the private sector and a massive reduction of state work forces, Rousseff told reporters earlier.
Questioned about human rights, she said that the subject was a matter that should be dealt with from a “multilateral perspective.”
“The world in general needs to commit itself, and it’s not possible to make the policy of human rights into nothing more than a weapon of ideological politics - the world should understand that all countries have to take responsibility, including our own,” she said.
With regard to joint Brazil-Cuba projects, Rousseff said that her country is taking part in several “important” initiatives in Cuba, such as the construction of the port at Mariel, 45 kilometers (28 miles) west of Havana.