Brazil's President Lula Da Silva met the Cuban leader Fider Castro. The South American country will invest $200 million in new business
Lula and Castro are old friends, as well as icons of the Latin American leftist movements. Both leaders had developed close ties since today's president of Brazil - region's largest economy and world's ninth - was a young trade union leader in Sao Paulo, the country's industrial center. Last weekend, cemented their relationship in the first visit of a top world leader to the island since dozens of Cuban dissidents were sent to prison on March.
Despite their similar backgrounds, Lula and Castro discussed business and ignored human rights issues. Brazilian private enterprises will invest $ 200 million in new business, according to the new deal signed by both nations. Also, the Cuban and Brazilian delegations discussed future trading and the way to equilibrate the balance of trade, favorable to South Americans during the last years.
Lula's visit helped Castro to end with a sort of political isolation in which the Island fell after criticizing the European Union when Brussels claimed for the liberation of the dissidents. "This is an exceptional step for Cuba and Brazil," said Lula Da Silva". "In a globalized world, we must join together ... so we can compete one-on-one with developed nations,"
Castro's speech was, as usual, longer than Lula's comments: "Cuba is very honored," the revolutionary leader said to reporters. "This is the best trip we have had in a long time."
Specifics of the agreements were not disclosed, but included $140 million in deals with Brazilian firms to build four beach resort hotels, Brazilian officials said. Other deals included investment in Cuban sugar and transportation. There were also rumors about a possible $400 million credit line to finance investments in Havana.
Also signed was an agreement to re-negotiate Havana's $40 million debt with Brazil, to be paid back in part with revenue from the island's exports to the Latin American giant. Brazil has taken a major stake in the Cuban tourism industry after a meeting between Brazil's President Lula da Silva and Cuban President Fidel Castro.
As part of the negotiations, Brazil will install in Cuba ethanol plants and sell buses to be used in Havana. Cuba is hoping to attract two million foreign tourists this year, despite a United States trade and travel ban.