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Brazil's Temer at UN Decries Rise in Nationalism, Protectionism

Brazilian President Michel Temer speaks during the United Nations General Assembly at U.N. headquarters, Sept. 19, 2017.
Brazilian President Michel Temer speaks during the United Nations General Assembly at U.N. headquarters, Sept. 19, 2017.

Brazilian President Michel Temer criticized a rise in nationalism around the world and said in a speech to the United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday that protectionism was not the solution to economic difficulties faced by countries.

Temer also expressed concern about the deterioration of human rights in Venezuela, where the socialist government has been accused by opponents of becoming a dictatorship.

"We are on the side of the Venezuelan people. In South America there is no more room for alternatives to democracy," Temer said.

Brazil, Latin America's largest economy, was emerging from its worst recession and the government was making progress in controlling its budget deficit and restoring credibility to economic policies, Temer said in the speech.

With food exports driving the recovery of the agribusiness powerhouse, Temer called for improved market access for farm goods and the elimination of agricultural subsidies that distort trade.

International cooperation on climate change cannot wait, Temer said. Brazil has been criticized for not protecting the Amazon rainforest, an important area for global environmental balance, but Temer said data showed that deforestation fell 20 percent last year.

On Monday, Temer, other Latin American leaders and U.S. President Donald Trump discussed oil-producing Venezuela's economic and political crisis and ways to encourage a return to democracy.

Trump said in his speech to the annual U.N. gathering on Tuesday that the situation in Venezuela was unacceptable and the United States would step up pressure on the government of President Nicolas Maduro.

Temer said Brazil and its partners of the South American Mercosul bloc would continue to support a democratic transition in Venezuela.

Conservative Temer, who replaced leftist President Dilma Rousseff last year after a controversial impeachment, faces strong opposition himself amid corruption charges.

His government's approval has plummeted according to a public opinion poll published on Tuesday.

Polling firm MDA said that 3.4 percent of those surveyed thought the Temer government was doing a "great or good" job — down from 10.3 percent in February.

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