Obama: Brazil Offers Example for Freedom Movements
By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, March 20, 2011 Noting that the movements in the Middle East and North Africa demonstrate a universal yearning for freedom, President Barack Obama today held Brazil up as an example of how “a call for change that starts in the streets can transform a city, a country and the world.”
Speaking during a visit to Rio de Janeiro, the president made no mention of coalition military operations under way to enforce a U.N.-endorsed no-fly zone in Libya and halt Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi’s brutal crackdown on protestors there.
Instead, the president spoke more broadly about the common thread behind struggles unfolding throughout the region and their implications for the future.
“We see a revolution borne out of a yearning for basic human dignity in Tunisia. We have seen peaceful protestors pouring into [Cairo’s] Tahrir Square – men and women, young and old, Christian and Muslim,” he said.
“We've seen the people of Libya take a courageous stand against a regime determined to brutalize its own citizens,” he continued. “Across the region, we have seen young people rise up - a new generation demanding the right to determine their own future."
The change they seek, he added, must be driven by their own people.
“But as two nations who have struggled over many generations to perfect our own democracies,” the president said, “the United States and Brazil know that the future of the Arab world will be determined by its people.”
Obama pointed to Brazil -- a nation that has emerged from two decades of military dictatorship to become a thriving democracy and economic powerhouse -- as a model for Libya and others. Brazil offers proof that “a dictatorship can become a thriving democracy," he said.
The president recognized Brazil’s progress toward overcoming poverty and disease at home, and its work as a global partner fighting narcotics trafficking, promoting nuclear security and assisting the African continent.
He also praised Brazil for providing vitally needed assistance and support to Japan following its devastating earthquake and tsunami.
“We will pray with them and stand with them and rebuild until this crisis is passed,” he said.
“When men and women peacefully claim their human rights, our own common humanity is enhanced,” Obama said. “Wherever the light of freedom is lit, the world becomes a brighter place. That is the example of Brazil.”
Obama urged Brazil to join the global call for universal rights.
“These are not American or Brazilian ideas. They are not Western ideas,” he told the audience. “They are universal rights, and we must support them everywhere."