Meet and Greet at U.S. Embassy in Brasilia

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Brasilia, Brazil
March 3, 2010

Date: 03/03/2010 Description: Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton speaks to U.S. Embassy staff in Brasilia, Brazil March 3, 2010.  - State Dept Image

AMBASSADOR SHANNON: Please be seated. Madam Secretary, it’s an enormous pleasure and honor for us to receive you here at the U.S. Embassy Brasilia. But it is with great pride that I present to you the American employees and the locally employed staff of U.S. Embassy Brazil. We are, as you know, part of a larger mission with our consulates in Rio, Sao Paulo, and Recife. But we are a dedicated group of Americans and Brazilians committed to the well-being of our peoples, committed to the well-being of our countries, but committed to building a relationship between our two countries that reflects our shared values and interests, committed to building what we call a partnership for the 21st century. And it is therefore with great pleasure that I present to you our Embassy.

(In Portuguese.)


SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you. Well, thank you so much. And it is such a pleasure for me to be here in Brasilia and at this very important mission. I have been wanting to come to Brazil ever since I became Secretary of State. This is my third trip to Brasilia, but I had to wait until we had an ambassador. So I am very pleased to be here with your new ambassador, someone who has already made a difference in developing an even stronger relationship between the United States and Brazil.

And I so appreciate the work you’re doing here, Tom, and all of you as well. President Obama and I are very grateful, because we see this as one of the key partnerships in the 21st century. So this is a commitment that we both believe in. The United States was the first country to recognize Brazil’s independence in 1822. It was the first country to move its Embassy to Brasilia 50 years ago. And we think that our longevity of relationship in the past is just the beginning of what will be an even closer and more productive one for the future.

We appreciate and respect the role that Brazil is playing as a political, cultural, and economic hub in Latin America, but increasingly on the regional and global stage. This is a country that is really on the move, and therefore we see it assuming greater responsibility and leadership as time goes on. So our two countries need to work together, and that’s where all of you come in, both American and locally engaged staff. We’re counting on you. So whether you’re part of our political section working with Steve Liston to strengthen our bilateral relationship, or helping Tara Erath expand our economic and energy ties, or pursuing public diplomacy efforts in Sao Paulo, you’re helping to build one of the hemisphere’s most important relationships.

And because of your efforts, we’re seeing real results. We worked closely with the Brazilian Government after the earthquake in Haiti to save lives and alleviate suffering, and we are working again together for the people of Chile, who suffered a devastating earthquake that they were far better prepared for but which has affected 75 percent of the country.

Locally, I know you’re promoting the use of English in Brazil through public-private partnerships and an access scholarship program in advance of the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Olympic Games.

And I want to note the great work that Jeff Bell and his team at USAID have done in cooperation with the Brazilian Government, the private sector, and civil society to launch a program that gives young people access to the formal job market through IT and communications technology training.

You’re also supporting important cooperation on public health issues such as the training of the first corps of Brazilian field epidemiologists, now stationed in the Amazon. And I want to recognize the youth ambassadors initiative, which is now one of our most popular programs here. I heard that the public affairs team received over 150,000 messages after the program was featured on Brazilian TV.

The interagency cooperation supporting our visa surge is drawing more visitors to the United States than ever, and partnerships between State, DOD, and Commerce are boosting our commercial diplomacy efforts and creating new opportunities for American companies like Boeing to do business here.

And I’m especially grateful for the strong interagency cooperation between the State Department and law enforcement agencies that helped ensure the safe return of Sean Goldman to his father. I’d like to take a moment to recognize Marie Damour, Karen Gustafsondeandrade, and Orna Blum for their outstanding work to resolve that case.

Now a whole-of-government interagency approach to these issues and close cooperation between the Foreign Service and the Civil Service is particularly important in Brazil. This mission has to punch above its weight every single day. And we were just meeting with members of the senate and the house and they all want more consulates throughout Brazil. And, of course, Brazil now has how many? How many consulates in America?

AMBASSADOR SHANNON: We’ve got – we have three consulates –

SECRETARY CLINTON: No, how many does Brazil have?


SECRETARY CLINTON: Ten. And we have three. So I said I agreed with them. Because it’s a reflection of how much more activity there is every single day.

I also want to thank you for the long hours you put in, especially in advance of a visit like mine. I know how much time and energy went into the MOUs that I’ll be signing with the foreign minister today. And beyond that, some of you have taken on additional roles to fill the staffing gaps. That’s especially true of Lisa Kubiske, our chargé d'affaires who took the reins while waiting -- where’s Lisa? Where’s Lisa? I met Lisa at the airport last night. And this mission is much stronger because of your leadership, Lisa. So thank you.

So really I’m here to say just a great big thank you. Thank you for everything. I mentioned a few of you just to give you a sense that we appreciate what you individually are doing. We are very proud of the mission, but we know that the mission is made up of extraordinary individuals. I’m also well aware of a long tradition called a wheels-up party. (Laughter.) Because not only did you have to carry a lot of the weight while we were trying to get Tom confirmed in the Senate, but you’ve had to do extra work because of my visit and we hope there’ll be more visits down the road this year. So I think, Tom, this mission has deserved a terrific wheels-up party. It won’t really happen because I’m going from here to Sao Paulo. It won’t happen until I leave Sao Paulo for Costa Rica, but then I hope you get a little bit of R&R that reflects a deep breath in the face of everything that is ahead of us.

We talk a lot about a partnership for the 21st century because we really mean it. In the Obama Administration, we are trying to deepen and broaden our ties with a number of strategic countries and Brazil is at the top of the list. This is a country that really does matter. And it’s a country that is trying very hard to fulfill its promise to its own people of a better future. And so, together, the United States and Brazil have to lead the way for the people of this hemisphere. And I know that we can count on you to help make that happen. Thank you all very much. (Applause.)

PRN: 2010/T23-9