By Lise Alves, Senior Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – During his first official visit to Brazil tomorrow, U.S. Vice President, Mike Pence, will most likely have to explain the fate of at least 46 Brazilian children separated from their parents by U.S. immigration officials after entering the United States illegally.
Although one of the original objectives of Pence’s trip to Brazil this month was to strengthen trade relations between the two nations, the issue of these Brazilian minors is expected to take centerstage. Pence is expected to meet with Brazil’s President Michel Temer in Brasilia on Tuesday, June 26th, before flying to Manaus on June 27th.
“It is with great concern that the Brazilian Government is following the increase in cases of Brazilian children that are separated from their parents or guardians and are held in custody in shelters in the United States, which is a cruel practice and in clear dissonance with international instruments for the protection of children’s rights” said the note released by Brazil’s Foreign Service Ministry last week after learning that dozens of Brazilian minors were among the hundreds of children separated from their parents.
According to the Ministry, the Brazilian consulates in Houston and Los Angeles have been visiting the shelters trying to map out exactly where these children were taken to.
Another issue on the Temer-Pence agenda is the political crisis faced in Venezuela and the exodus registered over the last few months of Venezuelans over the border into Brazil.
Brazil has expressed concerned over the political situation in the neighboring country but has publicly stated that it would not interfere with domestic political problems of the Maduro administration.
Negotiations about a possible authorization by Brazil to allow the U.S. access to the Alcantara Base to launch U.S. satellites is also expected to advance during the one-day visit.
Despite reluctance by some Brazilian lawmakers, officials are forging ahead with a deal which would allow the United States to use the Brazilian base in the Northeastern part of the country.