Thursday, March 4, 2010

Brazil-Costa Rica March 3-4 2010



We arrived in San Jose, Costa Rica at 4:00 AM from Brazil this morning -- Clinton is giving a speech later today at "Pathways to Prosperity", a regional grouping dedicated to democracy and economic development that nobody seems to know much about.

We arrived in Brasilia on Tuesday after spending four hours at the airport in Santiago, Chile, where Clinton met outgoing President Bachelet and delivered a fairly skimply earthquake relief gift of 20 satphones. She assured them that more U.S. help would be arriving --

The only sign that any disaster had occurred were the huge military cargo planes that kept taxiing on the runways behind the small building where Clinton and Bachelet met. When they came out to hold a press conference you could harldy hear them over the roaring engines.

It was tantalizing to get a glimpse of Brazil, although I have to say I found Brasilia a little disappointing. The famous Niemeyer Modernist government buildings all look pretty good in isolation, but when you put them together the result is a little dispiriting. It definitely feels like an artificial place, and one designed on a new quite human scale. I took the shot above inside the Foreign Ministry -- a nice scene, but I'm not sure I would want to work there.

Clinton didn't get much out of the Brazilians on Iran. The foreign minister politely informed her that Brazil would not "bow down" to any pre-determined international consensus on Iran. That's going to make the U.S. job more difficult in selling the new U.N. sanctions effort as a unified global effort. Clinton made her pitch, saying the Iranians simply were not negotiating honestly, but Brazil seems happy to give the process (Clinton would argue there isn't one) more time.

We left Brasilia for Sao Paulo, the biggest city in the country. I'd been looking forward to seeing it but got a little more than I bargained for. We left the airport in the motorocade which seemed to promptly get lose -- an hour rumbling over back streets and through dodgy neighborhoods. Very weird. We finally made it to our destination, Brazil's pre-eminent Afro-Brazilian university, where Clinton held one of her "Townterviews" with students....she comes across well in these, selling the Obama administration message, and the students seemed impressed.

Then back in the motorocade and a much quicker trip back to the airport (we were told there had been a highway accident on the way in, forcing the diversion)

7 hours later we arrived here. I'm going to see what's for breakfast