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tv   Key Capitol Hill Hearings  CSPAN  December 20, 2013 3:00am-5:01am EST

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time that it happens. about 50% ofoduces the energy in the country. fuels every corner that is out there. to're not going to be able shut them down overnight, nor should you. the transition is to focus on people. let me give you an example of a way i grew up. i grew up in a small mining town. the town was built around that mine. when it went down, the town went down. there were mines like that everywhere. there was a cotton mill in north carolina, or clothing mill in maine or massachusetts. you go through that transition. it wasn't all at once. ,e have to focus on the people and transitioning them. not just giving them a fancy burial, but giving them away and
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a community away to grow back into the economy and succeed. the transition has to look at the transition of the people and the community getting back to some kind of help so you don't just pull the plug on them and say, you are on your own. town or community >> another twitter question. should unions get an obamacare exception? >> whenever they have built the first automobile, it wasn't a perfect automobile. when we started playing baseball , it wasn't the perfect again. it has evolved. obamacare is a good start. good things in it, unintended consequences that do need to be looked at and change. we need to build on it. some classic mistakes.
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first, we exempted the pharmaceutical industry and said that medicare couldn't use its buying power to drive down prices. that needs to change. we jettison the public options so there wasn't the competition .e needed to keep prices down we made mistakes with the exchanges. we made mistakes with the system. >> a lot of mistakes. quite sure it was. it is a good start. everybody agrees that what we had wasn't working. a health-care system that didn't provide good results but spent twice as much as any other nation in the world was not a system we ought to be say let's go back to it. we needed the change. we needed to evolve. when we first is also security,
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there were problems like this. when we first of medicare and medicaid, there were problems just like this. congresso, if we had a that actually cared about america rather than creating issues, and having an issue to run against obamacare or four obamacare, we would fix the system. >> the affordable care act is an unusual problem as you know. , you can go on make corrections. everyone is afraid to reopen the affordable care act. we are stuck with a bill that needs even technical corrections to it. >> to get back to your original question, she would be exempt? it has had unintended question -- consequences that jeopardize the existence of health and retirement funds that have been the back own -- the backbone of the country. >> what exemption?
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>> we should have a tweaked so if you have an existing plan that covers five hundred thousand people, you ought to be a continuing. >> are you getting great about that now for members to can't keep their doctors? ohio -- i don't know how you would say you have to pay more right now. >> you were saying under the affordable care act there are are not going to be higher deductibles? >> i didn't say that. you said already. it hasn't kicked him. they can be paying anything already. a lot of them are. we are looking at examples of where we need to make changes. our health care plan gets treated unfairly in this. here is how. you raised this, so i will give you a full answer. if you are eligible for a
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subsidy, you get paid the subsidy. tosaid don't pay the subsidy the worker, pay it to the font that covers them, that helps them out. if you are a minimum wage worker having a tough time, and someone says, here are $3000. go by health care. don't buy shoes for the kids. i bet you will buy shoes for the kids. our employers pay into the trust fund. subsidy,to get the those low-wage workers have to come out of the trust fund, and they are deemed as not having health care for all their employees, so they have got to pay a penalty. $63, eventhat you pay
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though we got the same plan we always had. there are unintended consequences that benefit insurance companies. am i getting grief about that? sure. i want to see obamacare scrapped? absolutely not. is not the same game it was in 1800. the model t is not the same. push the hill to make the improvements because the system in this country is row can. .- is broken we paid twice as much as any are worse off.
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it has to be fixed. what you get? >> you dummy. your typical stuff. they used to call me fat. lost weight, they don't call me fat any more than -- anymore. they just call me dumb. >> how much did you lose? >> probably about 30. >> what did you do? >> exercise. my dad was a cool minor. he spent 44 years in the mail. one day i was proud of myself because i lost some weight. i had been working out really hard and i said, dad, what do you think? he said, you haven't looked behind you lately. >> this is amazing.
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you went to college and law school while you were working in a mine. >> first i started working the midnight shift in the mind. .- mine i went to school in the daytime. then i did a six-month six-month plan were a went to school for six months and went to the mine for six month. me to college. my workers sent me to law school, and i worked about six months. then i got out of law school, went to work in the legal worktment of mine workers, there several years, and the guy , he and i had a significant philosophical agreement, and i resigned and went back to work in the mine. i worked full-time, did a little pro bono.
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charged anybody for anything. i did some adoptions and things to help out people in the community and ran for office and got a let did and ran for president and got elected. >> union contracts are done behind closed doors. confrontational approach. the first time i covered you was in virginia. >> to an extent a strike can be good. it was over health care. >> we saw a little of your style there. >> i did what i had to do to protect retired workers and widows. that is what the strike was over. they actually believe our active
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members were in support of retirees and widows. calculate. imissed tried to explain. they wouldn't listen. to do away with health care. we couldn't allow that to happen. the industry depended upon the plan would have lost their health care. we took a hard line and said, you are not going to do that. it was a 15 month strike. we engaged in peaceful civil disobedience. very confrontational strike that ended up making worldwide news. everybody in europe knew. even russia people knew.
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we had tremendous support. in the state of virginia it was one of the most conservative states in the union at the time, may still be. 94% of the populace in virginia supported us in saying we should be able to maintain health care. >> let's look ahead. what do you think are the chances the democrats take the house in 2014? like 2006 when the orocrats made major gains 2010 when republicans made major gains. 2014 is an opportunity. towardsd right now is
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populism, but populism can't be a bumper sticker in october and expect the democrats to win, because it is not automatic for them. the republicans are shooting themselves in the foot, but the democrats are not capitalizing. they haven't capitalized anywhere near where they should, so if they take on issues like unemployment insurance, increasing social security, minimum wage, infrastructure, and they actually fight for them , not just so we can have an issue in auch kober, then i think they can ultimately make significant gains in october. it is not automatic. i think the american public are frustrated. one of the two parties is going to have to show they have a path forward that represents and
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benefits the average joe and jane and not just the people at the top. >> i hear what you say about the message and the issues. what are the mechanics? >> they have to bring the issues forward and actually fight for them. >> how do you want them to do that? >> in legislation. talk is cheap. don't just talk the talk. alk the walk. foot forward. fight for it. hold people accountable. i got to tell you, it is unconscionable that the people and 1.3apital left town million people are going to be out in the cold on december 31.
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>> do you worry republicans will take the senate? >> at the current rate, i don't worry about that. these guys are taking their legs off at the knees. evenrats aren't capitalizing on it. i wish they would. >> let's say there is a democratic majority in the house and senate. would you push for the nuclear on legislation. >> on the house side? look, i think you got a normal process you normally go through. when somebody becomes obstructionist i think you have to do something. look at what has happened. on the senate had these guys
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have filibustered in the last rear is more than the 30 years before that. take the three judges in the d c circuit. nina bullard, exemplary. to do something on taxes. three judges they just filibustered. that has got to stop. it has got to stop some way. i hope it stops at the ballot box. i hope the american people say, we have had enough about this. you care more about the political issue than you do about this country. they get a rules change on appointments. this point the president is
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five years in. we have more vacancies than any other president before him. can't even get normal people appointed. that is part of the strategy. if you want to make government look bad, don't put more people in. it is part of the strategy. it. >> to break through we will bring you a microphone. i want to ask if you know the mayor elect of new york. >> i do. >> what is he like? what did you think about his selection? >> i am excited by his selection. i think he will make a progressive mayor. i think you will stand up for the average worker. that stuff but more. he will focus on the little guy
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more than perhaps his predecessors. real started as a underdog. what do you make of his victory? what does it tell you about the times? >> populism works. if it is your message and what you believe in, it is what most americans believe in. >> what should other democrats learn from his selection? learn populism is isery powerful tool, and it aligned with the major thinking of the american people. them, and youto support a raise to the minimum wage, all that stuff the american people agree on. do you think trade has been good ? 77% of americans think they are
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bad, yet policy will continue the same trade agreements, not because democracy work. worked they would be completely gone. is the real issue. what happens after they run on populism? president obama ran a populist campaign in many ways against mitt romney. >> you are disappointed in president obama? >> you have to continue and fight for these policies after election day. that is why people are so frustrated. talk is cheap. you have to walk the walk. i think he will follow through. we are going to try to make sure more politicians follow through. >> you feel president obama hasn't? do i think president obama could have done more?
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yes, but let's look at the playing field he has been dealt. it's not like he has a utopian laying field, and we have a house -- playing field, and we have a house and senate saying, let's work together. they have done everything they can to stymie what he stood for. they defy the will of the american people. itt kind of democracy is when you defy the will of the people you're there to represent? it is minimum wage, social security, infrastructure, job creation, immigration therm, trade policy, minorities support those, yet the minority position prevails because of a system awash with money. we have a question? >> good morning. i am in alliance for justice.
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you spend a lot of time talking about the damage done by congress. what kind of harm do you think has been done to everyday americans by the supreme court? >> i think the supreme court has done lasting damage to the system of democracy. this supreme court equates money with free speech. let's think about it. do you actually believe washington and jefferson were sitting around the table one day and jefferson says, you know, george, i have twice as much money as you. therefore, i should have twice as much free speech as you? i can't fathom that, yet this supreme court has been very fond and accommodating to corporate america. damage todone lasting
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the system. under their rules, you can hardly regulate the flow of money in the political system. it is difficult to see away without a constitutional change, so they have done lasting damage to it, and i hope we will see some change. is going tohat happen? i am not going to bet the ranch on it. >> good morning. my name is mark. executive director of teaching. in an era where it would seem union membership would grow very was the is not. mentality out there that is holding it back -- what is the mentality that is holding it back, and how do you intend on battling it? >> you don't have to take my word for this.
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there is an international study, and they think the labor laws in this country are woeful. you have significant intimidation. there are between 25000 and 30,000 workers who get filed -- fired illegally each year for trying to organize. inc. about it. -- think about it. you are in a job. you want to organize because you are an ump lawyer. you think you aren't getting enough benefits. organize so you have a voice. i want to get back to the positive reasons. meeting. you into an you have to sit in a room like this. i get to tell you what i am going to do if you organize. plan tong to move this china if you organize.
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fire people, a couple of ringleaders. they put heads on the wall, and everybody goes, these guys are serious. >> tell us the positive reasons. >> if you look at institutions that have empowered workers by giving them more say on a job, those systems are longest lasting and most effective when there is a union, because when you come to, when an employer and group of evil come together, if you are of relatively -- group of people come together, if you are of relatively equal power, you make good decisions. my kid comes to me and says, i want a bicycle. i say no and walk off. same day my wife comes to me and says, i want a new car. i say, let's sit down and talk about it. i like to think we are
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a relatively equal power. that's what happens. you make better decisions when you are of relatively equal power. workers. give that to look at what ford has done. look at the coal industry. i joined together with a guy in alabama, and we put together a system that empowered workers. . the number went up of injuries went down. that's one of the great reasons for having a union. workers to actually achieve fullest capability. >> i am going to sneak in one more twitter question. what does it mean that three
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industrial unions have come out against them? and whenfollow suit, will you decide? not done yet. i want to look at what is in there. everybody knows it hasn't worked. most economists say the nasa model is lower weight -- the model is lower wages for middle- class workers. we ought to look at the different model. can it be amended? can we get a different type of system and a different model? i hope so. if it is modeled after nafta, it is a failed model, so we will the sake. i hope for of the country it changes, and i hope for american workers we get it right for a change.
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you have one other problem. viewers are six and eight. >> it is raking my heart. -- breaking my heart. i was out hunting, and i looked at the sun. just a low the trees, and i thought, we have a lot in common. is the same with the steelers. i think they need to change systems. luck, butof had bad if they are zero and 12, i am still a steelers fan. >> i want to thank the bank of america, your colleagues for this fantastic series, bank all of you, thank our politico colleagues -- the bank all of you, thank our politico colleagues for making this possible.
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happy holidays, and i want to thank you for a fantastic.
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>> former nsa contractor edward snowden recently asked brazil for political asylum. ambassador to.
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brazil talks about u.s. relations with the country. from the wilson center, this is two hours. >> good morning. good morning to our good friends in the audience. i am jane harman. i am delighted to welcome you to this before the christmas holiday. the wilson center knows a lot about brazil. so does tom shannon. our brazil institute is the premier place in washington for dialogue on u.s.-brazil policy. we were first to honor the president of brazil. we sponsor the brazil economic conference. we host brazilian governors and legislators. we air the good, the bad, and the ugly in our relationship.
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tom shannon represents the good. i hope he is relieved to hear that. ther close to four years as foreign ambassador to brazil, he is back in washington as senior advisor to secretary kerry. there are lots of rumors about his future. ... brazil is the b in bricks. president rousseff was an alleged target of u.s. surveillance. these will be addressed by mr. shannon. before asking tony to introduce tom, let me applaud the efforts of washington and brazil to move past the snowden issues and to
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reschedule president rousseff's visit to early next year. i strongly disagree with what edward snowden did, but i welcome the public debate about how we should restart, reset what we do on surveillance. as the two largest economies and democracies of the americas, our interests are more convergent than divergent. as tom shannon likes to say, the challenge for the u.s. and brazilian governments is to catch up and align policies to this reality. that is why tom shannon is here. he will help us understand the landscape in this post snowden era. let me turn the program over to tony harrington. he served as u.s. ambassador to brazil during the clinton
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administration. welcome, tony. >> thank you. thank you, jane. thank you for the fine leadership that you bring to this important institution in washington. i first met tom shannon in 1999 when i was unexpectedly preparing to go to brazil as u.s. ambassador. i had a mandate to update an important and under attended bilateral relationship. i also met paulo sotero about the same time. they accelerate my appreciation and understanding of brazil.
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tom was nsc staff director at the time and it was apparent that he was not only knowledgeable about brazil, but had developed an unusual awareness and affection for the country while serving as assistant to a prior u.s. ambassador. with tom's advice and help, we were able to conclude significant agreements and open new space in u.s.-brazil cooperation. tom has been a rising star in our foreign service. he was white house senior
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director. the brazilian government was delighted to see him come back to brazil. he was nominated as an accomplished ambassador to brazil and returned briefly long enough to add a couple of gray hairs as secretary of political affairs at the request of secretary clinton. two jobs, one salary. last year, tom was nominated and confirmed by the senate to the rank of career ambassador. it is a rare recognition of
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extraordinarily distinguished members of the u.s. foreign service, given to only 53 diplomats over the last 50 years. as jane noted, secretary kerry has brought tom to the inner circle as senior advisor and history continues to unfold. as ambassador tom was the architect between the u.s. and brazil after a period of some malaise in the relationship. president obama made an unprecedented early visit to brazil. in his address to a very large
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congregation, he observed it was time that brazil and the u.s. enjoy a level of engagement on par with that of u.s. with china and india for example. it helped reset the relationship. the openness and engagement was a constructive step and it was followed by president rousseff visit here. she set the theme as brazil-u.s. strategic partnerships for the 21st century. agendas were set at the level that we need to get on with. this mutual high-level outreach would not have happened without the skill and diplomacy of our
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ambassador at work in brazil and back home. as we know, further elevation in the brazil-u.s. relationship was emphasized by the state visit planned a couple months ago. the last such visit, state visit to washington, was more than 18 years ago. all of you are aware of the developments that led to the two presidents to announce the postponement of the visit. i hope the review of the national security agency intelligence programs will resolve questions that are recognized as legitimate.
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in so doing, this will permit rescheduling of the visit and moving forward with the relationship. having paid attention to the relationship since i was ambassador, i believe the reasons that led president obama to make the invitation and president rousseff to accept remain valid and current. further and deeper engagement is in the interest of both governments. the civil societies in both countries and the business sectors whose interest are remarkably, and policy objectives of the u.s. and brazil business communities are remarkably the same.
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i heard this confluence of interests clearly stated and reiterated when i was in brazil last week for the clinton global initiative in rio and then the largest annual conference held by the national confederation of industry in brazil. both occasions addressed by president rousseff. president clinton opened the clinton global initiative meetings, he was also asked by the national confederation of industry to address the body, but he was prevented because of his travel in connection with a memorial for president mandela. the leadership of cni told me it was the largest gathering they had and several people called up
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saying they wanted to hear bill clinton do his thing. the awkwardness around the nsa issues in no way diminish the achievements of the service of our just returned ambassador, tom shannon. we are fortunate to have him serving with secretary kerry. it has been a personal privilege to work with tom shannon for more than a dozen years, as i know it is a pleasure for all of us to have him with us here this morning to share perspectives
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that are unique on the state of relations and the future of relations in u.s.-brazil. we will have some time for discussion moderated by brazil institute director paulo sotero, as well. please help me welcome tom shannon. [applause] >> good morning. it is a great pleasure to be here. to jane harman, thank you so much to your welcome. to tony harrington, thank you for your kind words. my mother appreciates them. to paulos otero, thank you for the tremendous work you have done here at the institute. before we came out here, we were
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talking about the work that the woodrow wilson center and the brazil institute are doing on our larger western hemisphere issues. as many of you know, this is a busy town. we have a variety of divergent and immediate interests and keeping our elected leaders and thought leaders focused on our larger neighborhood. sometimes it is a challenge. you have institutes like the atlanta council expressing issue in trying to establish their own focus, that is tribute to the richness of this field and the importance of it. i am grateful for the tremendous work that you have done here. thank you. this was billed as a conversation with me, so i would like to make a conversation as
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quickly as possible. i would like to open this up to address your interests and your concerns. before i do that, i want to say a few things and share a few thoughts. many of you know i spent nearly four years in brazil. i have had the good fortune of being asked by secretary kerry to work with him on broader issues. i am being globalized. my interest in brazil has not waned. as brazil inserts itself deeper into the world, it will not let me go. i will have a profound interest in u.s.-brazil relationships. brazil and the united states look to share cooperative paths that will benefit both of our countries. nearly four years ago, i was invited by paulo to speak here.
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in that instance, i made a few assertions. the first was that, although brazil had been described as an emerging power, i said that i did not agree with that. it was not emerging. it had already emerged. it was already exercising a role as an important global player. it needed to be recognized and understood. secondly, i said that brazil's emergence was a product of its domestic transformation as it addressed long-standing social inequities like poverty, inequality, and social exclusion. they built a functioning democracy and created one of the largest economies in the world. an economy which was building a large consumer base middle class that was globalizing as it
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developed. its emergence was putting brazil in contact with the united states and this new engagement with brazil, whether it was in the middle east, africa, asia, or in the americas, it meant that the united states had to understand brazil in a different light. brazil also had to rethink its relationship with the united states. finally, i noted that while brazil and the united states had historically been friendly, there was a polite distance that we had gone about our business. increasingly, we have seen more connectivity between our societies and our peoples that was going to affect our diplomacy and foreign policy towards each other. with time, our people and
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society were going to become the drivers of our relationship and not our government. i would argue that i was right in all of those assertions. if anything else, my four years in brazil have convinced me that they are still valid. although brazil has seen its own fair share of internal political effervescence with the many demonstrations we saw across brazil, this is evidence of the health of brazilian democracy. there is broad public space for citizens to demonstrate and protest and make their views heard. brazilian institutions have the capacity to respond in a meaningful way.
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as we look ahead, we understand brazil's domestic transformation, because it was done within a market context, has shown that the democracy and the markets are not about status quo or protecting privileges. they are about creating space. the people themselves can have a central role in determining the developmental direction of a country. this is a powerful message. it is a powerful message to countries around the world. whether it is moving from a target development model to ones of regional integration, and whether it is moving from
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isolation to globalization, i think brazil has laid out a pathway or an example of sorts that should be encouraging. not just to the united states as we look to influence the world in ways that are meaningful to us, but also as countries try to determine how they can harness the peace and stability that democracy and markets can offer to address social challenges. from our point of view, our ability to work with brazil and engage with them, not just bilaterally, but globally, and to try to shape areas and methods of cooperation, whether it is in methods of foreign assistance, agricultural, public health areas, addressing peaceful resolutions, or
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fashioning broad trade agreements, how we relate to brazil and how they relate to us is going to be important. one of the striking things that has happened over the past several years has been the growing connectivity between our societies and people. the most evident and dramatic evidence of that is in tourism. over the past 10 years, our visa demand has increased by over 600%. it increased by 32% last year and continues on an upward swing, even with the brazilian economy has slowed considerably. the exchange rate has declined, as far as brazilian consumers in
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-- and tourists are concerned. this indicates brazilian society is globalizing at a fast pace. brazilians are connecting broadly in the united states, whether it be as tourists or investors. in this regard, what we are seeing increasingly as a response from the united states for growing interest in brazil and increase in tourism, although not at the same level we are seeing on the brazilian side. it is a dramatic increase in business and investment areas. the travel to the u.s. of governors, mayors, state economic development leaders, businesses, it has been remarkable. we have seen a significant increase in our bilateral trade. well over $100 billion in goods and services.
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this is a trade potential that is only being barely exploited. there is a lot more that can and should be done. the focus of our relationship on building out has been one of the priorities of this administration. certainly, one of the priorities of secretary clinton. it remains a priority of secretary kerry. what is striking about the emergence of this new connectivity is that i believe, increasingly, our societies will determine the direction of our relationship. both of our governments, by encouraging this, will build a balance in the relationship. we are creating a constituency that will demand our governments
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to solve problems that we might not be willing or prepared to address in the immediate moment. that will bring me to the disclosure portion eventually. before i get there, the larger point i want to make is that as we look at this relationship over the past several years, our purpose was to build what we call a 21st century partnership. i told the press when i arrived in brazil in february that, and it has become a mantra of the relationship. it was used as the slogan of our relationship when president rousseff visited the united states the first time. as we built out this 21st- century partnership and realize we needed to build a more solid and robust dialogue structure, we realized we needed to focus on the quality of dialogue.
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we needed to connect our governments at leader levels to ensure that our bureaucracies had clear direction and impetus to move forward on important issues. we discovered that our points of view converged. this does not mean they were always the same. there are still some stark differences. what is important, we found important areas of cooperation and concern. whether it is around climate change, food security, transnational crime, the proliferation of weapons, just to name a few. as we did this, we recognized that we needed to build a 21st- century platform for this relationship. those of you who are real brazilianists and can remember when we had consulates in many
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cities, along with our embassy in rio de janeiro and our consulates, over time, that has shrunk down to an embassy in brazil and consulate general's in são paulo. that structure, having consulates on the coast and an embassy in brasilia is like having a consulate in cleveland. it doesn't work. the president's decision to authorize us to open or reopen consulates in two cities was an important step in expanding our
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presence on the ground and tapping into a very large, passive population of potential visitors to the united states who had not been able to travel because they were unwilling to travel to the coast or to brasilia to look for the says. it also expands our commercial investment our reach. it is my hope over time that we will be able to expand our presence even further and build back the kind of geographic presence that we need to address a country of continental proportions. another important component of our 21st-century platform is rebuilding our cadre of brazil experts. brazil was a centerpiece of our hemispheric diplomacy for a long time. because of the consulates we had
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in the region and the u.s. presence, we had a large number of portuguese speakers who knew the country, knew it well, and served there for several iterations, and who we could call upon to help understand what was happening in brazil. through the 1980's and 1990's, and through attrition, that changed. much of our hemispheric policy became spanish-speaking focused. because of the decline in usaid presence, the exit of the peace corps and the decline in our geographic presence, we began to lose our portuguese language expertise and brazilian language expertise. that has all changed. it has changed because of the
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enormous demand for visas. we have hundreds of young officers who have done their first and second tours there. we are replicating what we had several decades ago and i think this is going to be important for our diplomacy because it will create familiarity with brazil and an understanding of how we need to deal with brazil over time. we remain convinced that the united states and brazil continues to build a strategic partnerships. what can either country get from each other? how things change with a
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strategic partnership is the transactional nature remains to a certain extent, but why it is strategic, both countries work together to shape, and understandings of the world. this can only be done through the kind of dialogue that we keep building over time. unfortunately, the decision by both presidents to postpone the october state visit was the product of the snowdon disclosures. it has created a challenge to build this type of strategic partnership because it has interrupted a dialogue that was nascent, but of growing importance. i believe we can recover that moment and that we have to recover that moment.
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it would be for the benefit of both countries, not just our governments and state positions, but more important for our own citizens. we need to understand how brasilia investing in the united states and brazil investing in the u.s. and how we can enrich the lives of our citizens and how it has relevancy to the daily lives of our citizens. that will make it unique in our larger diplomatic efforts in the hemisphere. it will underscore the importance of our diplomacy. we have engaged with brazil in several levels. we engaged technically, with our intelligence community, led by james clapper. meeting to address their concerns about the disclosures.
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there was also a political engagement in which the minister of justice traveled to the united states to meet with u.s. officials, including the vice president of the united states. there have been several conversations and meetings between president rousseff and president obama as they try to sketch out a pathway forward out of this challenge in the larger relationship. the white house released the results of the presidential review group that was investigating the impact of technology on information intelligence gathering. that is the first step towards a larger review of how the united states does use intelligence and will form the basis to reengage with the brazilians and make our own suggestions on the best way forward in that relationship. the brazilians have waited with
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a certain expectation to what we are going to be able to offer them and how we are going to be able to move forward in the aftermath of the disclosures. we do not have a clear pathway yet, but we will. we will look at the recommendations that have been issued by the review group at this point. i don't have a whole lot more to say in that regard because this is a work in progress. united states and brazil have worked in international forums. resolutions related to disclosures have been presented.
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the united states and brazil, along with other partners interested in things like internet governance, priavacy as a human rights, and the role of espionage, we have been able to fashion texts that the united states has joined consensus on. this is an important step. it realizes that both of our governments have the capability of understanding the concerns of the other and addressing them with a larger environment. just yesterday, the un's general assembly voted on a resolution out of the third committee in which we were able to join consensus. that is a positive sign. we are also appreciative of the way the brazilian government has
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handled the recent communication of edward snowden to the brazilian people and his effort to solicit asylum from brazil. their response is noted and welcomed by the united states. it is evident that what the snowden disclosures have done, aside from creating a level of pause at one part of our relationship, we have found, both among us and brazilian businesses, is a hunger to continue our engagement and to continue to look for ways to fashion a more fluid and productive business and investment relationship between the two countries. in this regard, i think we have
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a lot to work from. we continue to see a huge flow of brazilian students to the united states, which will continue to have a big impact on american universities, especially american graduate programs. the influx of brazilian students will be the largest influx of students from the western hemisphere that we have seen so far in the 21st century. in that sense, i think the impact of brazilian students on american universities and graduate programs is going to continue to be large. as i indicated earlier, the visa demand has not slacked off. it grows at an important rate. it creates an urgency for both governments to find a way to address the problems and the questions raised by the snowden disclosures. this is what we are committed to. we are committed to a larger
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relationship with brazil that understands we occupy different places in the world and we have different sets of interests, but ultimately we are committed to interests that are similar and compatible. as we think about the u.s.- brazil relationship, it is worthwhile to take a step back and understand how it fits in a larger international environment. many of you are familiar with the phrase "the long war" where it was said that while we might walk away from our enemies, our enemies will not walk away from us. i would argue that although the united states still faces significant security challenges around the world, while we still have enemies that will pursue us wherever we are, we are in a different kind of environment,
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and given what we have seen with the rise of china and india, the insertion of these giant societies into international economies, the emergence of countries such as brazil, turkey, south africa, mexico, and indonesia, and the emergence of these societies as drivers of foreign policy and diplomacy, we are at a point where we need to understand our future well-being is about building partnerships and alliances. this will require a new focus and new energy in our diplomacy. while the long war might be present for us, we have the immediacy of a long diplomacy. that will require us to rethink how we engage in the world and the kind of partnerships we want to build.
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in this regard, i think you can be a bellwether. for many reasons that i have described here, but it is also important to understand that brazil has emerged into a world through its soft power and is a part of a larger network of countries that are calling on reform and renewal of international institutions at a time in which there has been no cataclysmic events that forces us into reforming or renewing these institutions. the institutions are increasingly less capable of the addressing the larger problems that the world faces, so our ability to reestablish momentum in the u.s.-brazil relationship and to ensure it gets back on a meaningful track that both of our governments and societies want, that will have a big impact on our ability to conduct
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this kind of diplomacy. ultimately, many years from now, much of what we consider to be important will not be seen as important. much of what occupies our every day will fall away and become the dust of history. what will be remembered and judged by historians is our ability to accommodate these rising powers, to transform and renew the institutions that we have created over time, to be responsive to the larger challenges that the world faces, and to do so in ways that promote international peace and security, but also promote prosperity and the ability for individuals to determine their individual destiny. this means not only opportunities and resources, but
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an environment in which each of us is respected. i believe the united states and brazil, because of our broad commitment to democratic values to human rights, to open society, we are in a unique lace to do this. there is an urgency for us to recapture the direction and purpose of our relationship and i hope you all share this. i would like to end there, reminding ourselves that this is the 100 anniversary of a scientific expedition to brazil. it was captured in the book "the river of doubt." i have a picture on the floor deck of a vessel as it debarked and began their land track to the river of doubt.
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it is a remarkable photograph. he is dressed in navy whites with white shoes and his hair is slicked back. erect, head back, chest out, he is proud. roosevelt was dressed in camping clothes, with his hat off, hair messed up, glasses slightly awry and slightly scrunched and looking at the camera as if he was wondering what was happening. it was a remarkable moment in the sense that it captured a proud and successful man with a roosevelt who had seen and done much and had much more to do in his life. what was striking about the trip was to have two men of large egos and purpose in such close
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quarters for so long and to have them travel down the river with no hope of coming out alive at the end, just in anticipation or expectation that they were on a historic journey that would identify a source of the amazon and accomplish something that was going to be important to brazil in the world, it was remarkable. in many ways, this is an image for a larger u.s.-brazil relationship. friendship, courage, and purpose can accomplish a lot in this world. thank you very much. [applause] >> now for the conversational part of this. i would like to tell those who are following this on the webcast or on c-span, you can send us questions if you wish. it is through our twitter
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account. @brazilinstitute. just before i open for questions, to complete the story that ambassador shannon just mentioned about roosevelt, that river, the river of doubt during the trip was renamed the roosevelt river. the locals refer to it as the theodoro. we call people by their first names. i would like to invite questions for ambassador shannon. i would like you to identify yourselves, wait for the microphone, so he knows who is asking the question.
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>> my name is bill. it is a pleasure to see you again. you mentioned, and i agree, the future and past has been determined by the society. in order for that to continue, don't we have to convince our society, in relationship to the security issues, that we are willing and will modify surveillance so that can be transmitted to brazil? in brazil, politicians represent the society. we have to convince them. do we have to convince the society of brazil first, and of course there is a good section in the media that is skeptical
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-- how do you envision us going about that? that is my question. >> one of the challenges of democratic societies is to create space for the kind of dialogue that we have to have now. that is one of the reasons the president decided to name a presidential review group, to look at intelligence gathering and the impact of information technology on the 21st century. we had to have a space where people could talk about this publicly. one of the challenges with issues of intelligence gathering is much of it cannot be talked about publicly. i think the presidential review group has done a good service in laying out a universe of options for the united states that will serve as a basis for a larger
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conversation. as far as brazil is concerned, we have a lot of work to do. as do the brazilians themselves. that is going to have to take place at a variety of levels at the same time. some will be done between leaders, diplomats, intelligence officers, but some will be done more broadly and in the public sphere. one of the opportunities that has been presented to us is an ability to engage with our public about intelligence work in the 21st century. and understand what information technology means for us. if you look at the disclosures issue closely, what you have is
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a mapping of 21st century technology and a mapping of the internet. you have a recognition that the way we communicate is changing fundamental understandings that we have about things like privacy and individual agency and our own behavior. much of this is not related to intelligence agencies at all. it is related to large companies and how they use bulk data and metadata and how they predict and try to influence how consumers behave. in many ways, we have been offered a window into this century and it will allow us to make some fundamental decisions about how intelligence is gathered, and how we want to structure information in our communities and societies. >> can i add a couple of observations from my visit last week, meeting with the business
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leaders and several congressmen, including an influential senator of the president's party. this is not a representative sampling, but the basic theme was, we would like to get on with it, get past this. i think within thought leaders and influential parts of brazil, there is a desire to move on with the relationship in a constructive manner. this particular senator had been a part of the delegation that came and met with the vice president biden and he was pretty warm about it, including biden, where he said i grew up with two precepts, never trust anyone over 70, and don't trust washington politicians. i would like to ask you to trust
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me and violate both of those. the kind of exchange that a brazilian politician could welcome. there is also an interest in, a great challenge and opportunity for collaboration in the evolving scheme of governance of the internet that brazil and the u.s. could be, should be, and probably are prepared to cooperate on. >> thank you. >> hi. the u.s. government has said that it is ready to discuss a new date for the brazilian president to visit the u.s. have you received any sign from the brazilian side that they are ready to discuss and how likely
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is it that the visit will happen at the beginning of next year? considering your engagement and involvement with brazil, have you personally experienced the problems? how frustrated were you with what happened? yesterday we had a concrete example of the consequences with the decision of the brazilian government. how did you see that? >> i had the pleasure of beginning my tenure with wikileaks and ending it with snowden. [laughter] what i tell people is we have seen the enemy and he is us. diplomacy and representing a country like the united states is not about personal experience.
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it is about a responsibility and a duty, not only in this regard to president obama and the government, but more broadly to the people of the united states of america. it is an honor and privilege and we try to do the best we can. i have deep affection for brazil and for brazilians. i am deeply committed to the u.s.-brazil relationship and building the kind of partnership i talked about. finding myself in a situation in which we were going to have to slow down what we were doing diplomatically, or look for other ways to express this partnership, it was frustrating at one level, but at the same time, these are challenges we
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relish because it allows us to show what we are capable of and it tests our conceptual understanding of relationships. it allows us to expand the context of our diplomatic activity. in terms of the decision yesterday, related to the fx2. congratulations to the brazilian air force. this is something they have wanted for a long time. even now, it is coming too late, but it is an important step for the brazilian air force. we are disappointed. boeing did tremendous work in brazil, and it will continue to do tremendous work. this will not affect the kind of cooperation that we have
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developed over time with the brazilian air force. as i noted, we have seen clear signs from the brazilian government that it is prepared to engage with us in a meaningful way on issues related to disclosures. whether it be in international settings, such as unesco, the un's general assembly, but also its response to snowden's request for asylum. i feel good about where we are right now. this is an ongoing discussion we are having. we have made it very clear that we are prepared to reschedule. i think our conversation with the brazilians have to right i think our conversation with
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the brazilians have to right them a little bit before we get a response from them. >> hello, ambassador shannon. i think your opening address and comments have made an effort to answer the question that i'm going to ask you again. i think if we go back, i would like to ask you, how do you address the skeptics in this town? some of them are here, some of them are floating about. who would point to the going back, before your tenure, then to the reaction to the nsa -- the 2010 tehran agreement, then the reaction to the nsa ,isclosures, which germany
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german reaction was greeted with perhaps greater understanding than perhaps brazil. even now, perhaps to this choice around boeing. i think we still have a tendency in this town and some of the bureaucracies on regional issues , a tendency to understand brazil and brazil's reaction to us as kind of a knee-jerk anti- american reaction. , even pointing to brazil's action on trade issues, protectionism issues, there is a long list of issues that are still pointed to as proof that the united states really can have the kind of strategic partnership with brazil that you have advocated for so at deftly. haveguess i would like to you address that skepticism had on -- head on an even address issues i didn't mention in latin
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america, pointed to as a place where the united states can't have brazil as a partner for reasons of how brazil advances its interest. i would like you to poke holes in those arguments, if you could, please. thank you. >> thank you very much. listen, as we build this relationship, and relationships obviously are between at least and sometimeso more, there are skeptics on both .ides and skeptics beyond for all the reasons you described. been people who tend to view brazil in a south american context. and tended to view it as a country that has behaved differently than many of our partners, that has different kinds of ambitions. and that is sometimes viewed as attempting to limit and frustrated our influence and
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presence, especially in south america. on the brazilian side, there have been skeptics who wonder sometimes quite loudly about the value of brazil attaching itself to closely to a country like the united states because of what they perceive is the asymmetry in power and interests, especially the global reach of the united states and the extent to which result finds itself sucked into our wake and is forced to participate in things or act in a way that it does not feel are in its best interests over time. a part of our challenge has been to address those skeptics and reshape understandings of the relationship. there is a certain degree of truth on both sides. and our interests at times due clash, and our ambitions sometimes work at cross purposes.
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but that, as jane harman noted at the very beginning, the convergent parts of the relationship are more important than the divergent parts. we have to be able to manage those parts of the relationship that are problematic while we try to build and expand those parts of the relationship that function well. and in many ways, the reason i talked a bit about the long diplomacy is because this is really the challenge of diplomacy. the larger challenge we are going to face with brazil. if we are -- what we are looking for in brazil, a country that is at allo follow our lead times, and the brazilians are looking for in us a country prepared to meet its every need when it comes to market access interests it is pursuing, then both sides are going to be disappointed. the relationship is going to be trouble some. but if we are able to understand
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through building common understanding in the world where we can work together in a meaningful fashion, then i think there is a lot we can do. a productive, fruitful, and positive relationship and growth. i think it needs to be taken advantage of. thank you. nelson cunningham. in my 20 years of daily and weekly engagement with brazil, i know that in this room is a flash in the pan, there is no i found who explained brazil better to the united states and the united states better to brazil than our moderator. i don't know if the rules permit this, but given that we have heard time shannon's tour de force, the u.s. side of this, could i ask a moderator, what will it take from the brazilian side for us to put this disclosure issue behind us?
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>> i think it is a recognition in brazil of the importance of the relationship. you can see it from the business community, that feels that somewhats in a sense isolated itself in the trade arena. this is daily news in brazil. a national conversation in brazil, very much so. , of the the president national cap -- confederation of industries, addressing this directly. close to president dilma rousseff. to the personse who is likely to run for the governor of the state, who is now the minister of development and commerce in brazil.
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you have this and the signals that they won more and more engagement with the united states. , youthink that is where know, this will appear in a debate in brazil. especially, i think, in a presidential election year in brazil next year. it will be interesting. i personally would love if the candidates all have the capacity to engage in this debate in terms of brazil's presence in the world. he wasng that i thought going to mention, but he didn't, and i will -- you have an increasing number of brazilian companies, global companies. there are about 30 of them. important inare the united states.
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they become real connectors between brazil and the united states. one well-known company that has five subsidiaries in the united states. they are here because this is a big market, but this is also a place of innovation. i wanted to just remember something president dilma rousseff said exactly one year ago in her last interview of 2012. she was asked about this business of the fiscal cliff that the united states was going down. not manage their fiscal affairs and govern themselves. she said, i don't believe that the united states is losing importance in the world. quote, as ist a read this so many times. then she said, the united states ana country with extraordinarily flexible economy
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, with a great capacity to reinvent itself. -- united states is moving is the country of innovation and is something that she says, value very much, and we have to pay attention to. she repeated four times the word "education." there is a debate in the united states about the quality of education, but those are the topics now. what it requires, what will happen -- it takes leadership. it takes leadership here. it takes leadership there, too, to amkmake those interests. but this is completely out of order because i am not supposed to be saying any of this. >> thank you. ambassador shannon, it is a pleasure to have you with us. it is also -- always such a pleasure to hear you talk.
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you give such a coherent presentation, and i know that you choose your words very carefully. this phrase address of the disclosure problem, which you referred to repeatedly. probably being one of the only people in the room that has sued the u.s. government for warrantless wiretapping, and having suits rejected by the supreme court on the grounds that we could not prove standing nearly two months before the which leadslosures, one to continually wonder if we could have proved standing two months later, i think choosing the phrase "the disclosure problem" makes it seem less serious and i think it really is. and not just on a human rights level and a right to privacy, on a commercial level, the lyrical level. it fundamentally has to do with trust. there is, and i understand it is
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corporate as well as domestic. i would like to hear you respond to that. i think it discounts the seriousness of what is happening. the second thing, with respect to education and the number of brazilian students coming here to the united states, which is enormous, how is it going from the u.s. to brazil? i have a sense that it is much less, but i don't know the numbers. could you talk about that, and what you see in the future on that side? >> i will get to the last one first. i don't have the exact figures. but i think it is going to change over time. to begin with, historically when americans have done overseas stints it has been focused on europe, the u.k., spain, italy, with some france thrown in.
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we see more going to mexico, to argentina. it is our hope, especially as we build out our component of education in america, 100,000 strong, that we will be able to begin to build a larger u.s. presence in brazilian universities. in order to do that successfully , we need the help of brazilian universities, because many brazilian universities are not equipped to take international students easily. dormitories,ve they don't have international student programs, so it tends to fall the student to find a place, a support network, some young students are able to do that. others are not. others want a more package deal. there are a few brazilian universities that are beginning to understand this and are beginning to try to fashion mechanisms that will allow them to attract foreign students more easily.
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not just from the united states, but from elsewhere. one of the things we hope to be able to do overtime with the science without borders program is use what is really a student exchange program to build relationships between and solutions, between universities and to use that to facilitate the movement of faculty and the movement of services and to break down the closed shop nature of universities, especially when it comes to things like credits and degrees so that they can be shared easily. it is our hope over time to take a program, which is about exchanging students, and use it to build relationships between our educational systems and our laboratories and research institutes that are going to provide a much more vigorous and productive relationship for both countries. in terms of disclosure problems,
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challenges, crises, outrage, i choose my words carefully. we could call it something else. you could call it treason. >> that focuses on snowden. >> i agree. what i want to be able to do here is recognize the seriousness of the issue, recognize the impact it has had on the relationship and on brazil's understanding of that relationship, but put it into a context in which it does not overwhelm the relationship, because i do not think it should. imagery is different i talk to the foreign ministry and it said he said it cast a dark shadow on
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the relationship. others have used words like trust and respect. we are going to have to address all of that in some fashion. the brazil end of this has been exaggerated for political purposes, not by brazilians themselves, but by snowden's handlers. much has been taken out of context. ultimately, we are in a position with the brazilians because of this, to rethink our liaison relationships. that is something brazil does poorly right now. largely because of their own -- anal history and that recognition that brazil does not have an intelligence relationship that matches its global ambitions. in order to do that, it needs to
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build liaison relationships with global intelligence services that are capable of helping it do the kinds of things and provide the kinds of services to its own government that ultimately it is going to need. brazil is in a privileged place right now. it largely does not have external enemies. it does have adversaries and people who are interested in what is happening inside brazil. the subject and the object of cyber assaults everyday. brazilians know this. they are looking for ways to build capacity as they build out their economy. it is our hope that they will recognize that they have a useful partner in us and that they need to see be on their own immediate concerns caused by snowden to build out that
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partnership, especially as they look to work towards the world cup and the olympics. noted, and you acknowledge, this is much bigger than intelligence issues. this is how modern society manages the data flowing through our telecommunication systems. it is going to require a response, or at least a thought process that is much larger than the one we have going right now. >> alec watson. thank you very much for a brilliant exposition earlier on. it was anticipated a little bit, what i would like to ask you about. with brazil's starting to feel a little isolated in international commerce with the formation of
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the pacific alliance, others, the comments by the cni president in denver reflect some of that. on the other hand, the brazilians seem to be still participationir and by certain kinds of barriers within their own still quite protectionist society to be able to make a breakthrough on trade issues. they have been talking to the eu for many years and have not gotten very far. yet i think that is one of the points that will be most important for strengthening the overall bilateral relationship between us and brazilians. i wonder if you could say a few words about that. >> we want more trade and more investment. that is why brazil is one of the focuses of the president's national export initiative. one of the focuses of the initiative. we are prepared to go to great
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lengths to achieve that. , as tonyeartening mentioned, is the very strong push from large industrial confederations like cni on the bilateral trade relationship and trying to find ways to overcome aspects of brazilian trade and commerce that have limited our ability to penetrate certain markets. in this regard, the negotiations that are ongoing between brazil and the european union are an interesting beltway. -- bellwether. it is increasingly clear to brazilians that they have large opportunities in europe, but they are being held back for a variety of reasons. some of them are domestic and some of them are related to the american relationship. we are not asking anyone to abandon their alliances or trading structures.
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a relationship between resilient -- brazil and the european union could put someone in a position where you could imagine triangulation as the united states builds its transatlantic trade partnership, triangulating into south america, or into the free-trade agreements that exist , or the kinds of agreements one might fashion with brazil, would be a very interesting possibility. would think would create a fascinating grouping of markets as we look across into africa and also into asia. but brazil has come a long way in a fairly short time. when i was there the first time around, from 1989 to 1992, the thought that brazil would be the home of major global companies and it would be a growing
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investor in the united states and that a company would have numerous subsidiaries operating in the united states and that another company would be a major supplier of regional aircraft did not cross many people's minds. in a short time, they have covered a lot of ground. they have a lot more ground to cover. >> i was recently at the council of foreign relations council in new york where the minister of development was speaking. he said something meaningful to me and i think i will repeat it here. it helps with the context. he said brazil, over the past 30 years or so, faced and basically built a consensus over three major challenges. the first was democracy, followed by the challenge around economic stabilization.
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the consensus in brazil, do not try inflation on brazilians because you will lose. and the third is social inclusion. brazil has achieved a lot with the expansion of the middle class. the minister added, now is the time to face the challenge of competitiveness. the other name of it is the challenge of making the brazilian economy a more open economy. you cannot deal with competitiveness in a closed economy, as you cannot resolve innovation issues and become more innovative in a closed economy. i wanted to add this because it is relevant to the conversation. >> my question is related to what he was talking about. >> how does the recent increase
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-- decrease in gdp and increase in economic concern affect the relationship you have come to talk to us about and understand? >> it is indicative of the changes going on in brazil and challenges brazil faces. if you look at what brazil have been able to accomplish, it has done a lot of this on a consumer-driven growth model. that model has run its course. brazil now needs to build a growth model that is based on productivity and competitiveness. as you look out over the brazilian landscape, what is striking to me is that the challenges the brazilian economy faces are several.
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the biggest and most pressing is infrastructure. how do you build the ports, the highways, the railways and the telecommunications systems to move goods and services? how do you do it in a timely fashion? brazil is the second-largest food exporter in the world. but it still cannot get all its product and market or to port or to the foreign destinations that would happily buy brazilian products. it has huge infrastructure needs that have to be addressed. it has significant human resource needs that need to be addressed. as it builds up the managerial corps there is a worker that needs to be fashioned in a 21st century economy. its labor regime, its tax
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structures or the other regulations that determine how you start businesses and how you close businesses. these are not problems that are hidden or known. -- unknown. brazilians understand this well. advanced dialogue and how to address them. the human resources are easiest to involve because they involve investment. the regulatory drag is the hardest because it is political. it involves taking on significant entrenched interests within brazilian society. in some ways, the president has inherited the toughest part of brazil's economic transformation. the previous brazilian president cleared the space for a long- term positive growth path. the next president was able to
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inject capital into the system so that brazilians could take advantage of that long-term growth path and profit from it and drive growth rates that were quite high. the current president took over this model just as a wall. -- just as it was hitting a wall. it is up to her to find a new way to address the challenges in the brazilian economy. in many ways, her challenge is probably the toughest of the three. but the good thing is as brazil has worked through these different parts of its economic development, it has globalized and become aware of what is happening elsewhere in the world. so i do think that brazil is up to these challenges. the question is how fast. in this regard, brazil is uniquely positioned.
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are for a few countries in the world his economic well- being is entirely in their own hands. for the most part that is true , for brazil. the decision it makes on infrastructure, education and regulatory reform will determine how fast it grows. if it makes the right decisions quickly, it rose faster and grows faster and stronger. if it makes no more slowly, it will not. the thing is, it doesn't stop growing. it continues to attract american investors and american business leaders. >> this side of the room. >> i am a former representative uruguay to the organization of american states. ambassador shannon mentioned a couple times of a u.n.
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resolution. privacyight of digital related to human rights. how do you see the implementation of a solution, and is -- it is something brazil has fought a lot for. will it have a direct impact in the actual state of the relationship? noted, we join consensus on the which means we are fine , with it. the reason we were able to join consensus is that the original text opposed by the initial conveners or those who altered includingd the text, brazil, had to change some aspects of the text to broadly address our concerns. we recognize, as the resolution does, the importance of privacy and the importance of an internet, which is seen as a global public good and one that
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that needs to be protected. u.n. resolutions, these are designed to capture a sense of the members of the u.n. and to help provide direction. but they are not binding. rarely do they have aspects to them that are implemented. arethat does not mean they not important, because they capture a political moment, and a purpose that needs to be understood and respected, and we just think the fact that we were able to work with our other partners, but also with brazil to fashion a text that we could accept was important, and i think it shows that whatever brazil's intentions might have been starting that process, it recognized early on it was not going to achieve everything it wanted to in that process and it had to make concessions that
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actually created a better environment for the kind of dialogue we are having. >> cindy? >> thanks. i am with the latin american program here. thank you very much for your remarks. my question has to do with brazil's relationship with other countries in the hemisphere whether it be south america or more broadly. we have worked on some of this together. there is broad respect for the strength of the brazilian economy and what brazil has accomplished in terms of democracy. there is less willingness to cede leadership in the hemisphere -- to see leadership in the hemisphere. you see any number of xamples. the opposition to having brazil have a permanent seat on the security council. the reaction to the position
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brazil took to the human rights system. in your time as ambassador, could you comment on how you perceive brazil's leadership being perceived in other parts of the region? >> that is a great question. my own experience -- >> that is a great question. brazil tries to be careful in terms of how it deals with its neighbors, largely because he ecognizes that it's bigger ambitions are expressed through salek, but especially uniscor. it has to be managed with respect and understanding for the concerns of other countries. it tries to present itself not as a hegemonic force but as a coalescing force in the region. this is not easy when you're as
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they cast brazil. resilience like to point out that even border on france --brazilians like to point out even border on france. it is a complicated diplomatic dance and is made more complicated by the relationships and the trade challenges that brazil faces with argentina because they tend to overload some of the circuits in the structures that they have. but the resilience work very hard at this. - but the brazilians work very ard at this. the efforts from our point of view are positive, whether it is in central america or the caribbean community.
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these are all efforts that facilitate dialogue and xchanges that -- for the broader hemisphere. but the biggest impediment to a brazil that dominates south america is largely its inability to open its markets. if brazil could open its markets, the andean countries never would have done free-trade agreements with the united states, or least not with the speed that they did them. they would have done agreements with brazil. when the mexicans realize they have been organized of latin america and they were not part of the caribbean community, and they launch their own initiative, that was all about putting themselves back into the egion. the most interesting diplomatic ove of recent times has been mexico's joined the pacific
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alliance. that put mexico into south merica in a way that i think many never anticipated and created the possibility of a connected series of free markets along the pacific coast, all facing asia, without a u.s. presence or driving purpose that think ultimately would be challenge is the wrong word because brazil tends to embrace challenges. i do not think this is a challenge to brazil so much as it is something that it has to understand and address in a way that reflects the concerns of the members of the alliance. > yes. >> my name is steve and i'm here on behalf of the u.s. travel association and want to thank you for your opening remarks about booming demand in both
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directions for both business travel and leisure travel. and in that context i think it hould be mentioned how commendable it is the enormous effort the and this he -- embassy has done to bring down enormous delays in wait times for brazilian applicants for .s. visas. those wait times are down over 90% and it makes a big ifference. that demand we all hope and expect will continue to rise. the question of the visa waiver program. as you are aware, the first south american country will be admitted to the program this spring. a year and half ago after as press was in her zeal -- in
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brazil, state departments were stablished to set up so-called roadmaps pre-discussions knowing that the conditions are not yet in place for an actual agreement but to lay the groundwork. it is not clear to many of us were that all stands, particularly after october. i wonder in the spirit of looking forward and consensus that you have described here, described what the path forward may be there. >> sure. happy to do that. as we try to understand the demographics in brazil and what has been driving this demand is surging these is -- visa, the growth in the middle class was seen as one of the reasons why


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