Protests greeted Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in Brazil at the start of a South American tour Nov. 23. On Rio de Janeiro’s Ipanema beach, thousands of demonstrators from groups representing gays, artists, Christians, Jews, and Holocaust survivors carried protest banners and a giant cage containing white balloons as a symbol of Iran’s “repressed values.” Large protests were also held in Sao Paulo. Opposition politicians also criticized the visit. “One thing is a diplomatic relationship with dictatorships, another is to welcome their leaders in your home,” Jose Serra, the Sao Paulo state governor, wrote in a newspaper opinion.
Ahmadinejad and Lula are expected to sign accords on biotechnology, energy and farming, and may discuss co-operation on building nuclear plants. The Iranian president is due to address Brazil’s congress and speak to university students before heading on to Bolivia and Venezuela. (The Guardian, Nov. 23)