President Obama's South America agenda takes shape

The Miami HeraldMarch 15, 2011 

This is how President Barack Obama’s trip to Latin America, which is scheduled to begin Friday, is shaping up:

• BRAZIL — Here the emphasis is expected to be on business and forging a relationship for the future.

U.S. officials say Obama will stress Brazil’s growing role in the world economy. Not only is Brazil expected to be the world’s fifth largest economy by 2016, the year Rio hosts the Olympic Games, but there have been recent, massive discoveries of deep-water oil reserves. Infrastructure projects leading up to the 2014 World Cup in Brazil also are expected to create opportunities for U.S. business.

“It will be a recognition that we look at Brazil very differently from the way we looked at Brazil 10 years ago. He will recognize the evolving nature of the relationship with Brazil,” one U.S. official said.

On Saturday, the president will meet with Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff in the morning and later attend a state lunch at the Foreign Ministry.

He also is expected to be the keynote speaker at a U.S.-Brazil Business Summit in Brasilia attended by some 300 top executives from some of the largest corporations in Brazil and the United States.

The event, organized by the Brazil-U.S. Business Council, will explore business opportunities in the energy and infrastructure industries and coincides with a business mission to Brasilia, Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo.

During the stop in Rio Sunday, Energy Secretary Steven Chu is expected to accompany the mission and Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke is scheduled to be on the visit to Sao Paulo the next day.

Next Sunday the president will be in Rio de Janeiro where he is expected to visit Corcovado, the peak where the landmark statue of Christ the Redeemer towers over the city, and a favela – one of the many makeshift settlements that sprawl across the hills of Rio. The military and police have recently been engaged in a pacification program to retake the favelas from drug gangs and other criminals.

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