President Bush today proclaimed “a new era of hope” in newly democratic South America as he opened a five-nation tour. He promptly blamed Iraq for making poor countries pay expensive oil bills.
Bush arrived in Brasilia at dawn after an overnight flight from Washington, accompanied by a mostly junior staff. He was greeted by a 21-gun salute and military pageantry at the pillared Plantalto Palace, the workplace of President Fernando Collor de Mello.
While celebrating the rebirth of democracy in South America, Bush put a strong emphasis on the Persian Gulf crisis and Iraq’s takeover of Kuwait.
Bush said Czechoslovakia, where he visited last month, is paying $1.5 billion in additional fuel costs because of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein’s refusal to retreat.
Collor, during a picture-taking session with Bush, said Brazil is paying $5 billion more for oil.
Bush responded, “That’s why, (when) people say to me, ‘Well, this can go on and on and on,’ I say, ‘No.’ ”
Bush raised the gulf crisis again during a speech to the Brazilian Congress. “I realize the sacrifices that Saddam (Hussein’s) brutality has caused this nation and its people, has caused many nations around the world.”
Bush said he will not abandon plans to stop Wednesday in Buenos Aires, where President Carlos Saul Menem declared a state of siege after the fourth military uprising in four years.
“I have great confidence in the security there,” Bush said.