On the Plane

Bush's Day in Brazil

SAO PAULO, Brazil -- Here's a look ahead at President Bush's schedule today as he opens the first full day of his Latin America tour.

He plans to start the day by touring a Petrobras Transporte fuel depot, a massive facility that provides enough fuel for 600,000 cars. Some of the tanks at the faciity contain fuel that is 22 percent ethanol, which is the point of the visit since Bush wants to expand ethanol production as an alternative for Middle East oil. Brazil and the United States together produce the vast majority of the world's ethanol.

The depot tour will likely be the main visual image of the president for today. During the visit, Bush will deliver a joint statement with Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva about an agreement intended to promote more ethanol production in Central America and the Caribbean.

The two leaders, who by most accounts have forged a good relationship despite the fact that Bush is a conservative and Lula a leftist, then plan to have lunch before meeting reporters from both countries for what in White House lingo is known as a "Joint Press Availability."

A Joint Press Availability is essentially an abridged version of a news conference and the usual forum whenever Bush meets with a major foreign leader. This will likely be a "two-and-two," meaning that each leader will call on two reporters from his own nation's press corps to ask questions. Those four questions will be the only ones they take today.

Usually, but not always, the two American reporters called on during a Joint Press Availability are from the main wire services, the Associated Press and Reuters. Count on at least one of them to ask about the Democrats' latest plan for Iraq or the report on FBI misuse of national security letters or some other controversy from back home. It will probably fall to the Brazilian reporters to ask about ethanol and Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. Guess which will probably be bigger news in Washington?

Afterward, Bush will tour the Meninos do Morumbi community center and hold a roundtable as part of his effort to show that he cares about "social justice" in Latin America. He then will head to the airport to fly on to Montevideo, Uruguay, his second stop.

The main action of the day that's not on the White House script will take place in the evening (Uruguay time is three hours ahead of Washington) when Chavez sponsors an anti-Bush rally of tens of thousands in Buenos Aires across the Rio de la Plata river from Uruguay. But Montevideo is more than 100 miles away from Buenos Aires, so there's not much chance Bush will hear the chanting.

By  |  March 9, 2007; 7:27 AM ET  | Trip:  Bush in Latin America, March 2007
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But Mr. Baker, what I can't understand is why we - or any sane people in the world - care what Hugo Chavez thinks or says. He, very bluntly, is a dictator. There never have been any good dictators, so why do you even mention him in any article? Only because it's somehow newsworthy? Chavez would be nothing of importance if the media didn't make him that. Leave ol' Hugo out of the picture and present the truth. That's all anyone wants.

Posted by: Greg Bradford | March 9, 2007 1:52 PM

You are so right when you say"There have never been any good dictators.." Some dictators are elected and others just take power through military means, but I quess they all have an overwhelming desire to shap the country in their own image. Gee I'm begining to understand why one dictator hates another so much as to run their armies at each other at the drop of a hat,

Posted by: Andrew Brown | March 9, 2007 3:06 PM

Count on whoever represents the press to ask questions that have nothing to do with the Bush trip to the region. Count on Bush to cause Latin audiences to wince and chill out to poorly crafted or insensitive answers to questions from the local press representatives. Americans do not understand how much this jilts the host audiences. Better not to travel there at all. Bush should also be careful not to boast his favorite self-annoited title, The Decider, when justifying his actions. Someone might translate the word using a noun that is the most proximate equivalent: o ditador.

Posted by: JKoch | March 9, 2007 4:58 PM

If one presented the truth as Mr. Bradsford asks, one would know that Chavez is not a dictator. He has won legitimate elections by wide margins. His policies are supported by his people, and he obeys his national constitution. The same cannot be said of his American counterpart.

Posted by: Bruce Wells | March 9, 2007 10:20 PM


Posted by: F.T.W | March 12, 2007 9:56 PM

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