Hotter ties with Brazil? Tap Obamamania, says expert
The United States’ influence in its traditional “backyard” is waning and needs a boost. Washington should be forging closer ties with Latin America’s emerging powerhouse Brazil, says Johns Hopkins political scientist Riordan Roett.
Best way to do that? Send the Obamas to Brazil because Brazilians will go nuts about the U.S. First Family.
“The White House should send the Obamas to Brazil. Can you imagine the Obamas getting off the plane in Rio de Janeiro? It would be extraordinary, a carnival, absolute madness,” Roett told the Reuters Latin American Investment Summit.
China has displaced the United States as Brazil’s largest trading partner and Chinese clout is growing in a region where Beijing is lining up long-term supplies of raw materials. Meanwhile, Washington had no ambassador in Brasilia for 11 months last year, because of domestic politics: the Republicans held up confirmation of Obama’s nominee, Thomas Shannon.
Brazil, the world’s 8th largest economy, has emerged as a leading developing nation, a strong BRIC and G-20 voice that Washington should be listening to, says Roett, who directs Latin American studies at Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies.
“Washington does not get it. The United States is no longer an empire,” he said.
“A short visit to South America would make a great deal of difference. It would be a very important way of indicating our willingness to have a stronger rapport with the region.”
For more stories from the Reuters Latin American Investment Summit, click here.
Reuters photos by Sergio Moraes (a samba school reveller dances among mannequins during the 2010 Rio Carnival) and Jason Reed (the Obamas walk to Marine One at the White House on January 12, 2010).