Remarks by the Vice President on U.S. – Brazil Relations, 5/30/13

“In the U.S. the discussion is no longer what it was when I was first elected as a young man: What could we do for the Americas? That’s long since gone. The issue now is: What can we do together? What can we do together?

And President Obama and I believe that the times present an incredible opportunity for a new era of relations between the United States and the Americas. We’ve never had so many capable partners. And American attitudes have changed as well. But none — no partner is more significant in this endeavor than Brazil.

The size of these new opportunities, of the middle class, a secure and democratic region requires broader, deeper relationships with this great country and quite frankly all the countries in the hemisphere. And that’s not going to happen without sustained interaction and consultation.

That’s why I’m here in Brazil today. That’s why the President has asked me to extend an invitation to your President who I’ll be meeting tomorrow to come to the United States in October for the only state visit that will occur in Washington this year.

Ladies and gentlemen, that’s why the President has visited recently Mexico, Costa Rica. That’s why he’s made six trips to Latin America and the Caribbean, and that’s why I’ve traveled within the Americas on four separate occasions, why I met yesterday with the CARICOM nations; before that, with President Santos in Bogota. And the President has asked me to — future trips in the fall and into the winter. It’s real simple: We want to engage more. We think there’s great opportunity. We’re optimistic.

Brazil has long since taken its place as one of the world’s great democratic economic powers. You’re the seventh largest economy in the world — larger than India; larger than Russia. The story of your journey is truly remarkable in the last 20 years. In 20 years in the making, you built upon the most important resource that this great country has — your human capital.

You broke the back of inflation. You lifted 40 million people out of poverty to the middle class, which is now 100 million strong. Your democratic and social innovations; your Zero Hunger Program; your bolsa familia; your homeownership programs — they’re studied and copied around the world. They’re studied and copied around the world, from Guatemala to Ghana.

You’re tapping your enormous natural resources, but also getting a greater share of your energy from clean and renewable energy sources than any other country in the world. The rest of the world looks at you with envy, at the progress you’ve made. The hemisphere has much to learn from your experience.

But I believe the most important lesson is not any of the specific economic formulas that you’ve employed to raise the living standard of all your people or any social program that is being replicated. You taught something to the rest of the world, and this hemisphere in particular, that the United States has strongly believed from our inception. You demonstrated that there is no need for a nation to choose between democracy and development. You have demonstrated there is no need to choose between market-based economies and smart social policy. That is a debate raging in other parts of the world. But you, Brazil, have demonstrated that it is not the false choices that are being offered in other countries in this hemisphere and other countries around the world. And the world has begun to recognize your contribution.”

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