Global Insider: Brazil-Venezuela Relations

Brazilian Foreign Minister Antonio Patriota recently paid his country's first high-level visit to Venezuela since the inauguration of Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff in January. In an e-mail interview, Kurt Weyland, professor of Latin American politics at the University of Texas at Austin, discussed Brazil-Venezuela relations.

WPR: What is the recent history of Brazil-Venezuela relations?

Kurt Weyland: Economic exchange between Brazil and Venezuela has intensified greatly in recent years, and political relations have been officially close, despite a divergence of interests beneath the surface. Brazil has taken great advantage of the oil-fueled boom that Venezuela experienced in the 2000s, selling increasing quantities of foodstuffs and undertaking huge construction projects in Venezuela. Moreover, leftist solidarity induced former Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva to treat Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez as a friend. But at the same time, Brazil has quietly sought to contain and counteract Chávez's quest for regional leadership; after all, Brazil has long believed that it deserves to be the unchallenged leader of South America. Also, Brazilian diplomacy avoids the noisy radicalism that Chávez employs -- Brasilia prefers negotiations with the U.S. to "anti-imperialist" confrontation.

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