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Reich cautions Brazil's presidential contender (Read 484 times)
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Reich cautions Brazil's presidential contender
Oct 17th, 2002 at 11:18am
By Nancy San Martin, Oct. 15,

The United States' point man on the Western Hemisphere Tuesday cautioned Brazil's left-leaning leading presidential contender against altering its capitalist economic model because "leftist models don't function."

Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, a former union leader and the Workers' Party candidate, is far ahead of government-backed candidate José Serra, according to the latest Brazilian opinion polls.

Otto Reich, assistant secretary for the Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs, speaking at The Herald's annual Americas conference at the Biltmore Hotel in Coral Gables, also said that the "heating up of the rhetoric" on the part of Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez is a matter of great concern.

In addition, Reich said that Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide needs to move quickly to diffuse political turmoil in that Caribbean nation and that Colombia can count on the United States in its fight against insurgency groups, whose links with drug-trafficking has become a battle against terrorist acts.

"These are not popular movements. They are after power" and profits from drug trafficking, Reich said.

Colombia can win the battle against "narco terrorists," Reich said of the three insurgency groups known by the acronyms FARC, ELN and AUC. But the country needs help in training, intelligence and other resources, which the United States is committed to providing.

Meanwhile, Latin America as a whole needs to overcome its historical problem with corruption.

"There are still too many in elite positions that are addicted to power," Reich said. "Corruption at any level of society erodes public confidence and sabotages" democracy and the free market.

He cited Venuezuela and Haiti as examples of government failure that "has led to violence and instability."

Reich also dismissed widespread speculation that President Bush's tough resolve to maintain the economic embargo on Cuba was a political move to help his brother Jeb Bush get re-elected as governor of Florida.

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