The president of Brazil arrived in Cuba Friday on an official two-day state visit aimed at increasing economic ties between Brazil and Cuba. The visit has generated criticism because of Cuba's human rights policies.
Brazil's president, Luiz Inacio Lula Da Silva, is expected to offer Cuba a $400 million line of credit in an effort to solidify economic ties between the two countries.
About 50 top Brazilian executives have joined Mr. Da Silva in Havana and a number of business deals involving hotels, oil exploration, and sugar farming are expected to be finalized during the visit.
Mr. Da Silva and Mr. Castro share a long and close personal friendship. Mr. Castro was a long-time supporter of Mr. Da Silva, a 57-year-old former trade union leader, who was elected Brazil's president late last year after three unsuccessful attempts.
The 77-year-old Cuban leader gave Mr. Da Silva a warm welcome at Havana's airport on Friday, but Brazilian authorities reportedly turned down a Cuban offer of a massive parade to welcome the Brazilian leader.
Brazilian newspapers have reported in recent days that Brazilian government officials do not want to antagonize the United States, Brazil's largest trading partner.
Mr. Da Silva's visit is being criticized by relatives of some of the 75 dissidents, human rights activists and journalists who were sentenced to lengthy prison terms earlier this year in a crackdown by Cuban authorities. Relatives and supporters of the jailed dissidents have asked Mr. Da Silva to raise the issue of the dissidents during his meetings with Mr. Castro, but Brazil's president has said he has no plans to do so.
Brazil was one of the few Western democracies not to criticize Cuba earlier this year following the human rights crackdown.