Miriam Leitao at PostGlobal

Miriam Leitao

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Miriam Leitao is a reporter and columnist for O Globo and Radio CBN in Brazil. She is also a commentator on Globo TV Network and runs her own blog, www.miriamleitao.com, hosted at Globo online at www.oglobo.com.br. She was awarded Columbia University’s Maria Moors Cabot Prize in 2005. Close.

Miriam Leitao

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Miriam Leitao is a reporter and columnist for O Globo and Radio CBN in Brazil. more »

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Power, Politics and Diplomacy Archives

October 5, 2007 5:07 PM

Boycott Plans Naïve and Unrealistic

Yes, countries should tell China that they will boycott Beijing Olympics if China does not pressure Burma to open up! That's the easy choice, but it's also the naïve one. In the first place, China is a dictatorship and faces many of Burma’s same problems: human rights, civil liberties, freedom of the press and internet. Realistically, what kind of help can we expect from China?

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December 6, 2007 11:05 AM

And the Winner Is...Democracy!

This referendum was not about right and left. Hugo Chavez’s defeat is a win for democracy in a region that has been facing dictatorships and populist leaders since the beginning of its Republican History. It was about giving Chavez unacceptable power that could have destroyed what remained of Venezuela’s democratic institutions. The real choice was between an archaic and a new way of doing politics in Latin America. Fortunately, Chavez has lost.

I interviewed Chavez in 2003, during Venezuela’s general strike. At the time, I could see some signals that reminded me of my days spent living under a military regime in my own country, Brazil. When I arrived at the presidential palace, I followed all the security routines: I opened my bags and my crew’s TV equipment baggage, displayed all the documents demanded, answered all the stupid bureaucratic questions and passed through the metal detector. Despite following the rules, I was ushered into the Miraflores’ Palace as though I were an enemy soldier: a guard leveled his assault rifle at me and walked backwards in front of me, all the way from the main gate to the building’s front door.

I was led into a room and told to wait there. After three hours, Chavez came into the room, protected by a ridiculous number of guards and generals. For God’s sake, it was only a simple interview!

While I asked my questions, he had an unusual way to show his disapproval, shouting back, “Crazy! Are you crazy?!” It was a ridiculous scene. I kept replying “No, I am not,” and repeating my questions.

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February 20, 2008 2:47 PM

In Cuba, Change Has Already Arrived

The Current Discussion: With Castro gone, will Cuba become America's 51st state?

Cuban TV airs hugely popular soap operas including the American TV series, “Desperate Housewives,” and the Brazilian “Women in Love.” New Chinese buses are beginning to replace the old ones on Havana’s streets. The Brazilian state-owned oil company Petrobras just signed a new agreement to survey for oil in the Cuban sea. Canadian and Spanish investors are arriving with liquidity and interests. Two million tourists a year arrive in Cuba to spend their money. In Cuba, ironically, the American dollar is still a strong currency.

Those are real facts. The myth remains, however, that Cuba is an isolated and strategic island that threatens U.S. national security, because once upon a time it led two superpowers to the edge of a nuclear war. It is dangerous enough to be banned from OAS, World Bank, IMF, and IDB. All that belongs to the past. Today, Fidel Castro’s Cuba is only a shadow from this past of confrontation.

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August 12, 2008 2:25 PM

Georgia Won't Be the Last

This is a clear case of handling politics and international relations with the military, not diplomacy. The Putin-Medvedev government is using this episode to demonstrate its strength. Obviously, the twin power-holders are not interested in 60,000 South Ossetians and their dreams of independence. (What about North Ossetian dreams of independence? They have been completely forgotten by Moscow and everyone else). The two leaders want to prove that their new Russia, unlike Yeltsin's fragile Russia, has regained its economic muscle and its natural expansionist propensity. In the occupation of the Artic or in the invasion of Georgia, Russia is signaling that its dream of reemerging as an Empire remains alive.

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September 10, 2008 11:40 AM

Palin's Theocratic Beliefs

The Current Discussion: Does it worry you that Sarah Palin, the Republican vice presidential nominee talks about issues like gun rights and abortion and teaching "creationism" in school, but has no experience in foreign policy? What does her selection say to people in other countries about how U.S. politics works?

The problem about Sarah Palin is not her lack of experience in foreign policy. Try to remember George W. Bush's foreign policy experience before he was elected president. (Okay, I know that Bush is not a good example.) Think about Barack Obama's experience in foreign policy or that of plenty of other incumbents and nominees in the history of the United State who had no decision-making qualification on international affairs before becoming incumbents or nominees. Lack of experience is not the worst thing about Sarah Palin. She can learn. Besides, the State Department has a professional team of bureaucrats that could manage most foreign policy issues. Experience would be required of the National Security Advisor and the Secretary of State.

Palin's ideas on gun rights and on so-called moral issues such as gay marriage and abortion are not the worst thing about her, either. She can opt to attend the Assembly of God or the Wasilla Bible Church. All of these are private decisions. She has the right to believe the things that she believes. Free debate in the U.S. could offer the opposing points of view and the American people will freely choose their path. No big deal.

The problem with Sarah Palin lies in two other areas. First, she seems to believe that she is often following God's plan as a public official -- for example, by supporting construction of a new pipeline in Alaska and the teaching of creationism in public schools. This theocratic way of thinking was already outdated five centuries ago. From the Middle Ages on, the West has been working hard to develop modern democratic, lay institutions. In our time, the idea of teaching creationism in schools is weird; it doesn't fit, to say the least. Religion is a private matter, until the ruler starts to think about his/her beliefs as a reason of state.

The second problem with her ideas is that she supports inactivity on climate change and environmental protection, ending hope that the Republican ticket might include candidates with contemporary ideas on issues that threaten the whole planet. Palin's moose hunting, although repulsive, only illustrates primitive behavior. The real danger is less to the Alaskan moose herd than to our common planetary destiny, which needs a modicum of precaution, not four more years of White House neglect. Elections are a national matter, but in this case more than in any other U.S. citizens' choices might affect us all.

April 6, 2009 7:29 AM

Perfect Ten for Obama's Leadership

The Current Discussion: Rate Obama's first performance on the international stage on a scale of 1-10, and tell us why you think so.

Barack Obama did pretty well in many ways in his first appearance on global stage. He showed leadership and the ability to reconcile opposed positions. He helped solve a conflict between China and France on tax havens. The way he did it says a lot about his style. He pulled the two leaders aside together with the host of the summit, Gordon Brown, for a quick conversation, so that they could find a way to reconcile their interests. Now America has an answer to the frequently asked question during the primaries and the presidential campaign: in what way could the experience of a community organizer be important in performing the tasks of the presidency? He knows, for instance, how to harmonize different interests and frames of mind.

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