Obama's potentially awkward Brazilian arrival
United Nations Security Council approves no-fly zone for Libya
March 18th, 2011
07:44 PM ET
12 years ago

Obama's potentially awkward Brazilian arrival

Brasilia, Brazil - Just hours after declaring at the White House that he has helped put together a "strong" coalition to launch military action against Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi if necessary, President Obama is heading here to a country that abstained from voting on the critical United Nations Security Council resolution authorizing force.

Obama arrives here Saturday for a bilateral meeting at the grand Planalto Palace with President Dilma Vana Rousseff, the first female leader of Brazil, which was one of just five nations that voted to abstain on Thursday night's vote before the U.N. Security Council.

A Brazilian official told CNN that Rousseff's government believes U.N. resolution 1973 is too wide in scope because besides opening the door to member nations imposing a potential no-fly zone over Libya, the resolution also allows those nations to take "any means necessary" against the Libyan government.

U.S. officials downplayed any notion that Brazil's position on Libya will cause friction at the start of Obama's five-day tour of Latin America, even though military action may commence over the weekend during the president's stops in Brasilia and Rio.

Obama will also be traveling to Chile and El Salvador, and the White House is hoping to keep the focus on efforts to create American jobs by boosting U.S. exports in this region instead of any tension over Libya.

"The U.S. enjoys a close and dynamic relationship with Brazil," said a senior Obama administration official. "We value Brazil’s leadership in regional and multilateral institutions, including the U.N. Although we have not always agreed, we appreciate the strong working relationship we have and are fully confident that Brazil will uphold the Security Council’s decisions as they’ve shown they have in other steps recently."

The other nations to abstain on the vote were China, Germany, India and Russia. The resolution passed anyway, by a 10-0 margin, thanks to the support of such key U.S. allies as France and the United Kingdom.

Brazil, a non-permanent member of the U.N. Security Council, did vote in favor of the earlier U.N. Resolution 1970 that authorized tough sanctions against Libya to try to force Gadhafi to end attacks on civilians in his own country.

Obama said at the White House on Friday that the second resolution authorizing military action - including the no-fly zone to prevent Gadhafi from bombing civilians from the air - is necessary to put further pressure on the dictator.

"If Gadhafi does not comply, the international community will impose consequences, and the resolution will be enforced through military action," Obama said.

But the Permanent Representative of Brazil to the U.N., Ambassador Maria Luisa Viotti, said during Thursday night's session that her nation's vote "should in no way be interpreted as condoning the behavior of the Libyan authorities or as disregard to the need to protect civilians and respect their rights."

Viotti said that Brazil condemns "the Libyan authorities’ disregard for their obligations under international humanitarian law and human rights" and understands the Arab League's call for a no-fly zone.

"It is our view, however, that the text of the resolution before us contemplates measures that go much beyond such call," Viotti said in prepared remarks released by the Brazilian government. "We are not convinced that the use of force as contemplated in the present resolution will lead to the realization of our most important objective – the immediate end of violence and the protection of civilians."

Viotti also expressed concern that military action "may have the unintended effect of exacerbating tensions on the ground and causing more harm than good to the very same civilians we are committed to protecting."

Filed under: Libya • President Obama • United Nations
soundoff (22 Responses)
  1. T'sah from Virginia

    It may be awkward like the story wants you to believe, but I guarantee you President Obama will get RESPECT!!! Unlike here in the USA when RepubliCAN'Ts refuse to meet with him because they have "other" things to do!!

    March 18, 2011 08:29 pm at 8:29 pm |
  2. ehwilson429

    Obama is moving to Brazil.
    he will fit in better there.

    March 18, 2011 08:30 pm at 8:30 pm |
  3. WiredweirdoinSF

    Anywhere this Kenyan village idiot goes and everything he does is awkward. Not everyone in the world is a union toady. A lot of people can think for themselves in spite of the democrat liberals trying to dumb them down.

    March 18, 2011 08:40 pm at 8:40 pm |
  4. Jimbo

    Have a pleasant trip

    March 18, 2011 08:49 pm at 8:49 pm |
  5. Malcolm in St Louis

    Brazil has got some 'splaining to do.

    March 18, 2011 09:29 pm at 9:29 pm |
  6. NB

    The 5 nations did not vote to abstain. They abstained from the vote! Can we please use gooder English?

    March 18, 2011 09:41 pm at 9:41 pm |
  7. valwayne

    Libya is no threat to the U.S. and has made no threats. It doesn't have nuclear weapons and isn't trying to get them. So why does Obama want to risk the lives of our military in Libya? If its because they mistreat and kill their own people, well so does Iran, and Iran is a direct threat to the United States and is racing to get nuclear weapons. Should we go after Iran first? I don't understand Obama's foreign policy at all. He hammered George Bush for going into Iraq, but Iraq was a much greater threat to the U.S. and its neighbors than Libya? Obama's foreign policy seems almost schizoprhenic?

    March 18, 2011 09:51 pm at 9:51 pm |
  8. the man

    To him showing will change everything...

    March 18, 2011 10:10 pm at 10:10 pm |
  9. Henrique

    Obama loves Brazil...and whats the problem?Russia, China and India and Germany did the same.Just 5?

    March 18, 2011 10:16 pm at 10:16 pm |
  10. Henrique

    "thanks to the support of such key U.S. allies as France and the United Kingdom"...do you expect a nice bloodshed on your tv?

    March 18, 2011 10:17 pm at 10:17 pm |
  11. kurt

    tell brazil they can keep him. maybe him and acorn can pretend to make a dent in the ghettos there. worse come to worse acorn can help him set up brothels all over brazil.

    March 18, 2011 11:20 pm at 11:20 pm |
  12. Aaron

    Brazil was smart....got primarily on agricultural-based fuel years ago, so it doesn't need to get involved in Libyan affairs since it doesn't need the oil, which is the only reason that the world is screaming about getting rid of Quadafi now. You didn't hear all this commotion during the Rwandan genocide since Rwanda doesn't have any oil.

    March 19, 2011 12:31 am at 12:31 am |
  13. jh

    I don't see what the problem is. So the U.S. and Brazil disagree on one issue, so what? It's not as if the Brazilians are attacking resolution as a war crime, or anything. It's not as if their president is best buds with Gaddafi, like Hugo Chavez. Why should this make the visit awkward?

    March 19, 2011 12:50 am at 12:50 am |
  14. Chuckie

    Barack Obama-Worst President Ever!

    March 19, 2011 01:57 am at 1:57 am |
  15. Chedar

    I dont know, does this president sounds like Sarah Palin. A brain of a DoDo?

    March 19, 2011 02:20 am at 2:20 am |
  16. I'll willingly pay for NPR when they stop forcing me to.

    Wait, world... not now... I'm working on my NCAA picks...

    March 19, 2011 02:52 am at 2:52 am |
  17. Jim, Louisville, KY

    Brazilian wimps – if you wanna play in the big boy's world you need to grow a pair

    March 19, 2011 03:36 am at 3:36 am |
  18. Ghaddafi is exon

    boycott libyannn cheny shoe polish oil. Brazil has it right..once again. History does not inform little piggy americans on their way to india and israel...

    March 19, 2011 03:41 am at 3:41 am |
  19. Spencer in Chicago

    Let me get this straight. Obama was planning a trip to Brazil, then Brazil abstained - didn't even vote against - a resolution that Obama and the U.S. supported that had absolutely nothing to do with his trip, and CNN thinks that for this reason Obama's meeting may be "awkward"?

    How absolutely irrelevant does something have to be before CNN realizes that it's not news? Why did I even fall into the trap of reading this vapid, thoughtless nonsense? How long will it take me to accept that CNN is just a joke?

    March 19, 2011 05:04 am at 5:04 am |
  20. Steve-Illinois

    While he's there, him and George Soros can take a gander at that beautiful off shore drill rig acquired thanks to Obamas moratorium in the Gulf!

    March 19, 2011 07:46 am at 7:46 am |
  21. Anonymous

    Cue the Greedy Old Parasite idiots screaming about Obama's "vacation". They're like a broken record, endlessly stuck in the same nonsensical groove, far removed from reality.

    March 19, 2011 08:39 am at 8:39 am |
  22. Marie MD

    It'z not awkward. It's czllex life. We don't always agree but we can still get along and try to solve problems and share ideas with other countries 🙂 the rethugs wouldn't know the meaning though!

    March 19, 2011 10:26 am at 10:26 am |