Thomas A. Shannon, Jr.
Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs
Edson Santos, Brazilian Minister for Promotion of Racial Equality
C Street Entrance, State Department
Washington, DC
April 29, 2009

ASSISTANT SECRETARY SHANNON: We have had a very good morning working with the U.S.-Brazil Joint Action Plan. The meeting of the Steering Committee with participation from civil society and the private sector is an excellent example of the depth of the relationship that exists between the United States and Brazil, and the way in which we can work together to ensure that our societies continue to grow in inclusiveness and opportunity for all of our citizens.

Date: 04/29/2009 Description: Assistant Secretary for Western Hemisphere Affairs Thomas A. Shannon, Jr. and Edson Santos, Brazilian Minister for Promotion of Racial Equality, shake hands after meeting to discuss the U.S.-Brazil Joint Action Plan to Promote Racial and Ethnic Equality. State Dept Photo

We still have in front of us an afternoon of work and work tomorrow, but we believe we’re making important steps that underscore our common commitment to equality and to open society. So it’ s a great pleasure to welcome the minister and to let him know how happy we are that we’re working together on this issue and underscore our commitment to continue to improve the linkages between the United States and Brazil.

MINISTER SANTOS: (Via interpreter) It is a pleasure to be here at this historic moment where a brand new cooperation experiment is launched, a cooperation between the U.S. and Brazil . The issue of racial equality and the fight against racism are an important point in the agenda of both our governments. We Brazilians see this cooperation with the U.S. in areas of culture, opening up opportunities for all, health and especially in the area of education, as something that will help us to drastically improve the living conditions of the Brazilian black population. We also think that black Americans will improve their life standards.

I would like to underscore here that among my expectations I hope that based on the success of this experience now, we would like to reproduce this experiment in other countries, because the fight against racism must be part of the international agenda in order to consolidate democracy around the world.

I’m very happy to be here to continue this cooperation program. And I’m sure that we’ll leave here with concrete actions undertaken jointly by the U.S. and Brazil, actions that will, of course, involve our respective civil societies, private sector, and our governments. It’s a great pleasure to be with you, Assistant Secretary Shannon.

QUESTION: Yes, hello. This is for Mr. Shannon. I was wondering what did you talk about with the Chief of the Cuban Interest Section in your meetings, your last meetings, and do you expect to make any more meetings like this?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY SHANNON: Before I answer the question, I do want to underscore something Minister Santos said, which is the degree to which we can use the U.S.-Brazil Joint Action Plan against racial discrimination as a template to allow us to engage with other countries in the region which also have large historic African populations or other ethnic and racial groups that have faced discrimination. This is an important point, and it’s an area in which the United States and Brazil can work together to enhance a broader dialogue in the hemisphere regarding the fight against racial discrimination.

In regard to the question, obviously, President Obama and Secretary Clinton have spoken broadly about the importance of transforming our relationship with Cuba in a way that benefits the Cuban people and enhances their ability to gain a meaningful voice in determining their destiny. We have regular series of meetings with representatives of the Cuba Interests Section to discuss issues related to the management of our relationship, and we will continue those.

QUESTION: Yes, Mr. Shannon and also Mr. Minister. In which other countries do you see the possibility to create such a joint action plan?

MINISTER SANTOS: (Via interpreter) Cuba is one of the countries where we would like to have a cooperation program in the same area. Haiti is an American country that needs our cooperation, that needs our attention. Brazil heads the UN delegation or UN mission that is trying to make democracy in Haiti something sustainable. And I would even like to stress here that, in terms of priority, I think I would put Haiti before any other countries. It is our intention to spread this type of cooperation throughout the Hemisphere. We already are in contact with many countries in terms of promoting racial equality, working to make this agenda an agenda that covers the whole Western Hemisphere, the American continent.