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Want to teach Brazil about the rule of law

Erik Solheim's background note for the Latin America voyage is met with laughter and head-shaking in Brazil.


[visit] – It is probably best that we sort this out ourselves, says a laughing Silvia Costa, who coordinates the election campaign for Lula's ruling party PT in Bahia, northeast of Brazil.

Costa has just heard about how the Norwegian Foreign Ministry describes her country in the background document for Erik Solheim's study trip to Brazil and Bolivia. Solheim embarks on his week-long journey on Monday 14 August. The Foreign Ministry note states:

«In the work of strengthening state institutions, anti-corruption efforts and work to consolidate democracy in South America, experiences from the rule of law and civil society in the 'Norwegian model' may be relevant. Norwegian experiences can probably also be included in a dialogue about the relationship between the public and private sectors in business, labor law and in relation to organizations and private, social institutions. "

Corruption hunter and Transparencia Brazil director Claudio Weber Abramo also responds to the wording in the Foreign Ministry document.

- Do you think a "Norwegian model" in the fight against poverty and corruption can help Brazil?

- Which Norwegian model? I doubt whether the Minister has said anything like that. It does not seem like a sensible thing to say, says Abramo.

Transparencia Brazil is a non-governmental organization that works for openness and anti-corruption.

- In the background documents, it is specifically mentioned that the Norwegian model may be relevant…?

- Well, I'm sure that even if, for example, Norway and Sweden are quite similar, you can not export political systems and ways of working. Brazil is quite different from Norway and must develop its own policy. Brazil is a rich country. We must now start acting as a rich country. The biggest threat to democracy is social inequality. And this is the only thing we can do something about, says Abramo.

- We probably have something to learn, and maybe someone has something to learn from us as well, Costa points out.

The Foreign Ministry document, dated June 27, states that the delegation wants to "listen and learn" and discuss "what Norway can offer". Deputy Director General Hege Araldsen at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has contributed to the writing of the Latin America report.

- Will the Ministry of Foreign Affairs now travel to Brazil to missionize for the "Norwegian model"?

- No, I do not think that is the main message of the report. The goal in the first instance is to go down there to listen and learn, says Araldsen.

She expresses that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs should learn about Brazil to help them, not the other way around. The report also states that "Norway can contribute to the consolidation of democracies in South America by showing how it is possible to achieve a better distribution of wealth, resources and opportunities."

- In Bolivia, we hope to tell about Norway's management of natural resources. We must offer what we can best where relevant, says Foreign Minister Araldsen.

Supports landless

[forum] The Ministry of Foreign Affairs also believes that it is important to establish a joint Norwegian-Brazilian forum, where Movimento Sem Terra ("land workers without land") is specifically mentioned and as the only named organization. But MST's forms of action are controversial in large parts of the population. They are responsible for the occupation of land, vandalism and looting. n

By Roar Nerdal, Salvador

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