Follow the money: Brazilian president travels to Cuba and Haiti

Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff, who arrived in Cuba Monday, plans to meet with President Raul Castro today in a trip touted as a trade booster for both countries.

Enrique de la Osa/Reuters
Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff waves during an official visit to Cuba after arriving at Havana's Jose Marti airport on Tuesday.

• A version of this post ran on the author's blog, www.bloggingsbyboz.com. The views expressed are the author's own.

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff is traveling to Cuba and Haiti this week, her first official trip to both Caribbean countries.
 
Certainly much of the Cuba focus will be on symbolic questions. Will Rousseff raise human rights and democracy issues publicly? Will she pressure the Cuban government to give pro-democracy blogger Yoani Sanchez an exit visa to visit Brazil?

But BBC notes the more important point of her trip: "Ms. Rousseff will visit the port of Mariel, where Brazilian company Odebrecht is carrying out a multi-million dollar modernization of the harbor," with money from the Brazilian national development bank, BNDES.

Brazil's economic expansion across Latin America is improving regional infrastructure, building long term influence, and making the country money today.

As I wrote in the recent Southern Pulse book, Brazil's economic projects are placing it in increasing competition with China for regional influence.
 
The same will be true in Haiti. Rousseff will visit the Brazilian-led peacekeepers and certainly make some aid announcements to help Haiti rebuild, but there is a significant economic role for Brazil in that country as well.
 
Watch the diplomatic symbolism, because it certainly matters. But follow the money, because that is how Brazil is really making its play for regional influence.

--- James Bosworth is a freelance writer and consultant who runs Bloggings by Boz.

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.