Brazil's president tells Higgins of her wish to see euro zone survive crisis


BRAZIL’S PRESIDENT Dilma Rousseff expressed her strong desire to see the euro zone survive during talks with President Michael D Higgins in Brasília, counselling patience with Greece and Spain.

Mr Higgins said she expressed Brazil’s disfavour at any suggestion of the euro zone’s stronger economies such as Germany leaving the currency and “wouldn’t see this as a development that would be viable or welcome”. Speaking after their meeting on Tuesday, Mr Higgins said Mrs Rousseff had told him “that the Europe in which she found inspiration was a Europe that had protected labour rights, that had social policy and that was going in the direction of inclusion”.

Much of the 90-minute meeting at the Planalto presidential palace was spent discussing the European crisis, during which Mr Higgins outlined how bank debt had impacted on Ireland’s fiscal position.

In the latest indication of global concerns for the dangers the euro zone crisis holds for the global economy, Brazil’s president criticised the G20’s response to the crisis, which, she told the President, “had not come to terms with the real issues in Europe”.

Mrs Rousseff said she believed changes might have to be made to the current policy of austerity, especially in relation to youth unemployment, to win support from European voters for the changes necessary to European treaties in order for the currency to survive.

In a meeting described as “very warm”, Mrs Rousseff also said she would visit Ireland during her presidency. The two presidents also discussed Brazil’s efforts to combat poverty.

Mr Higgins got a chance to view such policies first-hand, visiting a shanty town in Rio de Janeiro, the fourth stop of his South American tour to Chile, Brazil and Argentina.

On a visit to the favela of Babilônia, perched on a hill above the middle class beachside community of Leme, Mr Higgins and his wife, Sabina, saw some of the social improvements being carried out by the city’s administration in the community since police cleared it of drug gangs two years ago.

Many of Rio’s slums are being improved before Rio hosts the 2014 World Cup and the Summer Olympics in 2016.

The government’s critics say favelas close to middle class neighbourhoods have been prioritised, ignoring more violent slums far away from where the sporting events will be staged.

But in a presentation to Mr Higgins, city officials outlined their plans to take back control of all Rio’s slums by 2020.