With the flags of Brazil, California and UCLA hanging in the background, Ambassador Mauro Vieira of Brazil stepped to the podium to discuss Brazil’s emergence as a global power.
Vieira spoke to a crowd of about 60 people in the Gold Hall of the UCLA Anderson School of Management Wednesday about Brazil’s position in the modern world.
The Brazilian ambassador, who currently resides in Washington, visited California to speak at UCLA and UC San Diego this week after receiving formal invitations from both universities.
By speaking at college campuses, Vieira said, he hopes to explain Brazilian policy and goals to young people, with whom he does not often interact.
“I want (the) youth to understand how Brazil sees the world and how their country interacts with Brazil to promote global policies,” he said.
The event, which was free and open to the public, was organized by the UCLA International Institute and four other campus organizations.
Vieira said he hopes to expand Brazil’s presence in the United States, particularly on the West Coast. Brazil is California’s 15th-largest trading partner, importing $2.8 billion from California in 2010.
Brazil currently has the seventh-largest economy in the world because of newfound oil reserves, advancements in biofuel and social programs to reduce poverty, Vieira said.
UCLA’s interest in Brazil is spurred by a number of student groups and programs about the country, said Randal Johnson, interim vice provost of the UCLA International Institute.
The country’s economy is flourishing and posted a 7.5 percent gross domestic product growth last year. Brazil’s unemployment rate is also considerably lower than the United States’, which is currently 3 percent higher than Brazil’s 6 percent.
Brazil’s economic success is based on microeconomic stability, social acts of justice and new investment opportunities, Vieira said.
Lee Mackey, a doctorate student in urban planning, said he attended the event because his doctoral study relates to Brazil and its changing role in the world.
“It’s rare to get a chance to hear an ambassador speak,” he said. “This event shows how great UCLA’s relationship is with Latin America.”
Based on the number of people at the event, Vieira said he was impressed with the current level of interest in Brazil.
“It is impressive the number of people who recognize our efforts,” he said.