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Brazilian president meets Fidel Castro; promises financial economic aid to Cuba

Wednesday, February 1st 2012 - 15:56 UTC
Full article
Rousseff proud of meeting the inspiration of her student time dreams Rousseff proud of meeting the inspiration of her student time dreams

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff met with Fidel Castro, the revolutionary hero of her youth, and held talks with his younger brother, President Raul Castro, on Tuesday in a visit to strengthen financial and economic ties with Cuba. On Wednesday Rousseff left for Haiti.

She toured the port of Mariel near Havana where a Brazilian company is leading a massive renovation and chided the United States for its controversial military prison at Guantanamo Bay.

Cuba released few details about the visit and did not allow coverage by the international media, but state-run television said the two governments signed agreements on Cuban food purchases from Brazil, the Mariel project and Cuba's biotechnology and pharmaceuticals industry.

A Brazilian diplomat confirmed that Rousseff had met with Fidel Castro, whose 1959 communist revolution was an inspiration for many Latin America student groups and guerrilla movements in the sixties and seventies.

Rousseff told reporters she would go see him with “much pride”.

Citing a Brazilian press report, government website said Rousseff, after lunching with Raul Castro, led a “small delegation” to meet the man who ruled Cuba for 49 years.

The 85-year-old Fidel Castro resigned the presidency four years ago, but still occasionally writes columns for Cuban press and meets with visiting leaders. Younger brother Raul Castro, who is 80, succeeded him in office.

Cuban media said Rousseff and Raul Castro discussed “the excellent state of their bilateral relations” and later toured the Mariel port together. She said Brazil is contributing 640 million toward the 900 million dollars project, led by Brazilian firm Odebrecht.

Rousseff also said Brazil had granted 400 million dollars in credits for Cuba to buy Brazilian food and 200 million under a program to improve Cuban agriculture, underlining that Brazil had made a “historic commitment” to “help the process of economic development” on the island.

Cuba is in the midst of modernizing its creaky Soviet-style economy by easing the role of the state and encouraging more private initiative.

Brazil is one of Cuba's largest commercial partners, with 642 million dollars in trade last year, and one of its biggest foreign investors. Brazil-Cuba economic and political ties were deepened under Rousseff's predecessor, Lula da Silva.

Categories: Politics, Brazil, Latin America.

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