Brazilian President cancels visit to Guyana after mother’s death

…President Ali extends condolences

Planned talks between Guyana and Brazil on advancing infrastructure and an energy corridor have been put off after President Jair Bolsonaro was forced to cancel his first official visit to Georgetown on Friday following the death of his 94-year-old mother.

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro and his mother Olinda Bonturi Bolsonaro

The Brazilian Head of State announced that his mother, Olinda Bonturi Bolsonaro, died on his Twitter handle but did not reveal the cause.
“With deep regret I inform the passing of my dear mother. May God welcome her in his infinite goodness. At this moment I’m preparing to return to Brazil,” Bolsonaro tweeted Friday morning.
At the time, he was in Suriname where he travelled to on Thursday to have trilateral discussions with Surinamese President Chandrikapersad Santohki and President Dr Irfaan Ali.
The three neighbouring leaders met for a working lunch at the Torarica Hotel in Paramaribo during which they discussed enhancing cooperation in a number of areas, including infrastructure, trade and energy.
President Ali led a delegation to the Dutch nation Thursday morning and returned later that evening to prepare for the official one-day visit of his Brazilian counterpart the following morning.
President Bolsonaro and his delegation were expected to arrive in Guyana Friday morning to have further bilateral talks with the Guyanese leader and his Cabinet Ministers.
However, the Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Ministry issued a notice Friday morning stating that it “regrets to inform that due to the sudden and unfortunate passing of the mother of His Excellency Jair Bolsonaro, President of the Federative Republic of Brazil, his official visit to Guyana will no longer take place today.”
President Ali has since extended his heartfelt sympathy to his colleague on his loss.
On the agenda for discussion between the two South American leaders were improving economic relations, energy and food security, telecommunications, agriculture, infrastructure integration and the development of a deep-water harbour in Guyana.
It was noted that since Guyana offers the shortest and quickest access to the Atlantic for significant parts of northern Brazil, a road connection linked to the deep-water port could also serve the interest of both countries.
Last week, the two Heads of State spoke via a teleconference about enhancing the partial scope agreement between Guyana and Brazil with the hope of bolstering trade. They also discussed the agenda for Friday’s high-level visit by President Bolsonaro.
During that conversation, President Ali indicated to his Brazilian counterpart that Guyana wants to have a very strong strategic partnership with the Portuguese-speaking nation.
“We have a number of important issues and opportunities for both Guyana and Brazil that I wanted to highlight even before our meeting, so our technical teams can start some work,” President Ali said in a missive from his Press and Publicity Unit.
The Head of State had pointed out that due to their geographical locations, Guyana and Brazil must make strong statements in linking their territories.
He noted that in addition to oil and gas, expanding opportunities in the other non-oil natural resources sector such as bauxite will create an opportunity for a direct link to northern Brazil and the Atlantic that can “create an excellent platform for us to develop an integrated project”.
As it relates to trade, currently, there is an existing partial scope agreement that aims to foster bilateral trade flows by the exchange of tariff preferences between the two countries, cooperation on trade matters and increased participation of the Private Sector.
This, President Ali said, is currently under negotiation to be expanded since Guyana wants to increase its quota, especially as it relates to rice being exported to Brazil.
President Bolsonaro, via an interpreter, said that the agenda for discussion looks “very promising” and that he would ensure that technical staff from the relevant Ministries in Brazil travel for the State visit. (G8)