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At the end of March, ACYPL sent a six member delegation to Brazil for an 8-day exchange. Over the course of their trip, the group visited Rio de Janeiro, Brasilia, and São Paulo. The delegation was geographically diverse as it included a member of the San Antonio City Council, the Mayor Pro-Tem of the City of La Habra, California, and the vice president of public affairs for UPS in Kentucky. The exchange was conducted in partnership with the Brazil Industries Coalition (BIC).
The exchange began in Rio and focused on economic and education policy. One of the notable highlights was a visit to municipal public school, where the delegates answered questions from students about current US political issues. They also had the opportunity to meet with GloboNews, the country’s primary TV news station, where they discussed the role of the press, and had the very rare opportunity to meet with former Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva and hear his perspective on his time in office.
In Brasilia, the delegation discussed national political issues, including the recent impeachment of former Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff. They also had meetings regarding transportation infrastructure and urban development with representatives of several ministries. Among the highlights in Brasilia was learning about legislative affairs and the role of women in Brazilian politics from members of both the Chamber of Deputies and the Federal Senate. One delegate said that “Visiting with elected officials face to face [was] the best way to understand [the system]; government is best presented by those who are “in” it.” Additionally, the group met with the office of Brazilian President Michael Temer and discussed the complex relationship between the executive and legislative branches.
The exchange concluded in São Paulo, where the delegation visited the Immigrant Support and Reference Center and learned about human rights and citizenship issues from the city government officials. Additionally, they had fascinating discussion about entrepreneurship with the CEO of Endeavor Brazil, one of the leading organizations supporting startups in the country. After a packed schedule of meetings, one delegate said that “My perception of Brazil as a small player in the global community’s diplomacy, politics and economic impact changed. Getting to know the country and its people exposed the raw talent this young democracy has. It will emerge as a great global player.”
While the delegation did have a very busy formal agenda, they also took advantage of Brazil’s rich culture. In Rio, the group visited Sugarloaf Mountain, strolled along Copacabana Beach, and saw the iconic “Christ the Redeemer” statue.