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A Shocked Brazil Mourns Slain UN Official - 2003-08-20


There is shock and consternation in Brazil following Tuesday's bomb blast in Baghdad that killed United Nations special envoy to Iraq, Brazilian diplomat Sergio Vieira de Mello.

Brazilian newspaper headlines hailed Sergio Vieira de Mello as a hero who died for peace.

On the streets of Rio de Janeiro, many people's reactions to Mr. Vieira de Mello's death were both sorrowful and indignant. Clothes importer Claudia Schweller said the attack was absurd, adding that that it is hard to believe such things still happen in the 21st century. She said violence leads nowhere.

Attorney Joaquin Brandao says Mr. Vieira de Mello's death was senseless. Mr. Brandao said it is a shame that someone with such stature, who was conducting an active mission for peace, should fall victim to terrorism. He added that the message sent by the terrorists is that peace is impossible and that no efforts to quell violence will succeed.

But Brazil's foreign minister, Celso Amorim, took a more optimistic view: Mr. Amorim said he hopes the brutal death of Mr. Vieira de Mello will not be in vain. Rather, he said, he hopes it will inspire us to find a way to fight terrorism through rational means according to international law.

It was Minister Amorim who first notified President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva of the terrorist attack Tuesday. The president declared three days of national mourning in Brazil.

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