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In Brazil, which wields the most influence in Latin America, former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva lent support to the Iranian government and also backed Venezuela’s late president Hugo Chavez, who ranted against U.S.-style capitalism and formed alliances with Russia, China and Iran. The new president of Brazil, Dilma Rousseff, appears more moderate. Biden visited Brazil in May, saying stronger trade ties and closer cooperation in education, science and other fields should usher in a new era of U.S.-Brazil relations.
During his visit, Biden announced that Obama was hosting Rousseff at the first official state dinner of his second term. The October dinner is a sign of respect and Brazilian officials say the spying allegations won’t taint it, yet Rousseff herself has said that any such data collection infringed on the nation’s sovereignty and that Brazil would raise the issue at the United Nations.
U.S. relations with Venezuela have been a lot thornier.
While Nicolas Maduro, appears to be more pragmatic than his predecessor, he has loudly voiced his own anti-American rhetoric since taking office — even alleging that the U.S. had a hand in Chavez’ death from cancer. Maduro expelled two U.S. Air Force attaches from Caracas, accusing them of trying to foment instability. The Obama administration responded by expelling two Venezuelan diplomats from Washington.
In a gesture that could have signaled a thaw in relations, Venezuela released an American documentary filmmaker who had been jailed for alleged espionage in the country. Timothy Tracy, 35, was released just hours before Kerry met with Venezuelan Foreign Minister Elias Jaua on the sidelines of a regional gathering in Guatemala. Kerry said the two agreed to take steps to change the dialogue between the two countries and hopefully, quickly move to appoint ambassadors, which haven’t been in either capital since 2010.
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