Speaker Boehner visits Brazilian slums, touring Colombia and Mexico soon after
Unexpected things are happening to the people of Vidigal, a large favela in Rio de Janeiro, ever since a series of intense security force raids cleaned up the streets. The security sweeps were ordered by the government in anticipation of the 2014 World Cup. Now, people can wander the streets at night with fewer concerns, shops are flourishing, and individuals such as U.S. House Representative John Boehner (R-Ohio) are making officials visits.
Boehner is leading a seven-member congressional delegation that will visit the top three U.S. export markets in Latin America - Brazil, Colombia, and Mexico, the Associated Press reports. His presence is quite relevant, as Republicans in the U.S. are struggling to garner Latino support for the 2012 presidential elections, while at the same time, maintaining a hard line on the immigration issue.
In a statement, Speaker Boehner – a strong critic of President Obama’s policies – said it’s important to reinforce the relationship between the U.S. and the three Latin American nations, especially “at a time when its economy is struggling.”
Boehner is travelling the region with Reps. Dave Camp of Michigan, Doc Hastings of Washington, John Kline of Minnesota, Dan Boren of Oklahoma, Devin Nunes of California, and Greg Walden of Oregon. Joining them were Rio state security chief, Jose Mariano Beltrame, and the coordinator of the pacification program in the favelas, Col. Rogerio Seabra.
Brazilian Foreign Minister Antonio Patriota will meet Boehner today in Brasilia, after which the U.S. delegation will continue on to Colombia and Mexico.