New Peru leader looks to Brazil for ideas

AP News
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Posted: Jun 10, 2011 12:27 AM
New Peru leader looks to Brazil for ideas

Peru's president-elect said Thursday he is looking to Brazil for ideas about how to help his country's poor.

Ollanta Humala made Brazil the first foreign stop since Sunday's election, and he praised the way its center-left government has helped the poor while maintaining economic growth.

"A country cannot consider itself rich if its population is living in poverty. This means we need social programs to help those living in extreme poverty," he said after meeting Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff.

"Brazil is a successful model of macroeconomic stability with social inclusion," he added. "This is the proposal of our government."

The comments seemed aimed in part at calming worries among the business community that Humala might emulate the strident leftism of another former soldier-turned-president, Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez. Peru's stock market plunged sharply on Monday after Humala's victory but regained most of those loses the next day. Analysts said institutional investors didn't participate in the sell-off.

Humala was once close to Chavez and is scheduled to visit him later on his postelection tour of the region. But in his campaign and since, Humala has painted himself a center leftist more in the mold of former Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, mentor of Brazil's current president.

Marco Aurelio Garcia, Rousseff's international affairs adviser, said Brazil will provide Peru with "technical cooperation" for Humala's social programs.

Humala also said he plans to maintain good relations with the United States.

"We must strengthen our ties with the United States because of our fight against drug traffickers, a fight that involves the cooperation of all nations," he said, and indicated that he plans to visit the U.S. before his July 28 inauguration.

Garcia said Humala and Rousseff discussed the need to combat drug trafficking along their Amazon-region border.

Humala is also scheduled to visit Paraguay, Uruguay, Argentina and Chile on the trip.