Engaging Brazilian Subnational Leaders on Upcoming International Sporting Events

Posted by Reta Jo Lewis
February 17, 2012
Special Representative Reta Jo Lewis Shakes Hands With Brazilian Governor Queiroz

I recently returned from a ten-day visit to Brazil where I traveled to six cities throughout the country to meet with local government officials, business leaders, and civil society to promote subnational engagement with this vibrant democracy.

As the Special Representative for Global Intergovermental Affairs, I lead the Department's efforts to collaborate with state and local leaders and their counterparts abroad to meet U.S. foreign policy goals. My trip to Brazil provided an excellent opportunity to support collaboration between local officials in Brazil and the United States in preparation for Brazil's hosting a series of major international sporting events, including the 2014 FIFA World Cup and the 2016 Summer Olympics.

In 2011, the United States and Brazil signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) designed to foster enhanced cooperation and exchange of best practices in advance of these events. Both countries agreed to collaborate and share best practices in the areas of strategic planning, infrastructure, and commercial enterprise, while striving to eliminate racial, ethnic, and gender discrimination and promote equality of opportunity for all. I have been charged with leading the U.S. interagency team supporting implementation of the MOU, and I chair a multi-stakeholder working group in collaboration with our Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs, under the U.S.-Brazil Joint Action Plan to Promote Racial and Ethnic Equality, to open up opportunities for historically marginalized groups during these mega events and in the years ahead.

I began my trip in Brasilia, the capital of Brazil, where I conferred with U.S. Ambassador Thomas Shannon. I am grateful for Embassy Brasilia's strong support for my mission to reinforce our constructive partnership with subnational leaders in South America's largest country. In Brasilia, I also met with federal representatives at the Ministries of Sport, Racial Inclusion, Higher Education, and External Affairs, as well as the Governor of the Federal District and representatives of the Inter-American Development Bank to discuss the upcoming sporting events.

From Brasilia, I traveled to northeastern Brazil to visit the cities of Recife, Natal, Fortaleza, and Salvador. In each of these cities, I engaged with mayors, governors, the Secretaries of Education, Labor, and World Cup, and civil society. In addition, I met in Pernambuco with representatives of Arena Pernambuco, a private-public partnership leading the construction of the World Cup stadium, and I toured the World Cup facilities in Fortaleza.

I concluded my trip with a stop in Sao Paulo to meet with representatives of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and U.S. businesses engaged in Brazil.

Overall, the trip was a valuable experience which provided the opportunity to engage with local Brazilian officials to discuss joint efforts to foster economic prosperity through education and increased trade and investment, and support for social inclusion. I look forward to returning to Brazil this spring to further these discussions in the additional six World Cup cities.

During his March 2011 visit to Brazil, President Obama described Brazil as a shining example of the power of democracy to expand opportunity. Our two countries share a rich history of democratic values and mutual cooperation. Today, we are working together to promote open and accountable governance, sustainable development and the expansion of social inclusion. Our mutual efforts on the upcoming major international sporting events are but one example of U.S.-Brazilian cooperation extending well beyond the work of the federal governments to local entities.


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