WAIS Thanks Aldo da Rosa
WAIS thanks Aldo da Rosa for his contribution to its survival and development fund. Aldo, Professor Emeritus of Electrical Engineering at Stanford, is a native of Brazil, and he appreciates the efforts I have made to interest Americans in his country. I have not had a horse named after me, like George Sassoon's father, but the Brazilian Government has given me the Cruzeiro do Sul (the Southern Cross), which is the next best thing. It is difficult to realize now how difficult it was to interest Americans in Brazil. Until World War II, Latin America was generally viewed with ignorant scorn in the US. When asked by one lady what area was my special interest, I said Latin America. She beamed and said with condescending approval "I like that country". When I founded Stanford's Latin American program, I called it Hispanic American, which seemed to have more class than Latin American. The Brazilians complained. Since Iberoamerican seemed odd and suggested a primitive society, I chose the name "Institute of Hispanic American and Luso-Brazilian Studies". That caught people's attention and they asked me what Luso meant. That provided me with an opening to give them a lecture on the history of Brazil. I introduced Portuguese language studies and brought to Bolivar House (where the institute was located) the well-known Portuguese language specialist James Taylor. We sponsored the publication of his important dictionary of Brazilian Portuguese. We held a presentation ceremony at which I asked the Dean of Humanities to speak. He spoke enthusiastically of the importance of teaching Spanish. Back to square one.
Americans still make the mistake of assuming that the US has hegemony over Latin America, including South America and Brazil. We should really talk about Southeast America rather than South America. Brazil is close to Africa, and it is rather closer to Europe than to the US. It has close cultural and linguistic ties to Europe and it certainly does not view itself as being in the shade of the US. Its bid for a seat on the UN Security Council is one manifestation of its desire to lead a Latin American bloc, and such a bloc is indeed forming. Its relationship with the US will be ambiguous, especially in the case of Mexico, which has close ties with the US but where the US and the US government have their lowest popularity, according to a recent poll. When it comes to discussing the granting of permanent seats in the UN Security Council to Brazil, as well as to Germany, India and Japan, the position of the US and other countries will be interesting. Will all other Latin American countries back Brazil? Will the US? The opinion of Aldo would be interesting.
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