President George W. Bush praised Brazil’s democratic progress during his first visit to the largest country in Latin America. “As two of the world's largest and most diverse democracies,’ he said, “Brazil and the United States share an obligation to work together for peace and prosperity.”
In the capital of Brasilia, Mr. Bush met with Brazil’s president, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva. "Relations between Brazil and the United States,” he said, “are essential and they are strong." President Lula agreed. The people of the United States and Brazil, President Lula said, "share common outlooks on absolutely fundamental issues, such as the defense of democracy, the spread of freedom, and respect for human rights."
President Bush praised President Lula’s economic reforms which are encouraging growth, job creation, and trade expansion in the country. He also praised Brazil’s efforts to combat drug trafficking and to fight HIV/AIDS. Mr. Bush also reaffirmed U.S. support for the F-T-A-A, the proposed Free Trade Area of the Americas, but said he understood Brazil’s desire first to try to negotiate a reduction in U.S. and European Union agricultural tariffs.
President Bush also met with members of Brazil’s business community. Is the United States, he was asked, forcing its promotion of democracy on other countries? Mr. Bush replied that nations need to develop democracies that conform to their own traditions and customs, but there are certain things that all democracies should believe in, including freedom of speech. He noted that it was freedom of speech that allowed demonstrators to express their views during the recent Summit of the Americas in Argentina:
"I expect there to be dissent. That is what freedom is all about. People should be allowed to express themselves. That is positive."
Brazil, said President Bush, is also a vibrant democracy that believes in freedom and “aspires to set an example for the continent by building a just social order where the blessings of liberty are enjoyed by every citizen."
The preceding was an editorial reflecting the views of the United States Government.