After meeting with Fidel Castro, Brazilian president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva said yesterday the 81-year-old leader was "incredibly lucid," healthy, and "ready to assume his political role in Cuba and the role he has in history." Lula met earlier with Raul Castro, who has been running the country since his brother's stomach surgery in 2006.
The two countries signed agreements to strengthen economic ties, hinting at the direction Cuba may take in the transitional period that likely lies ahead. Brazil is offering Cuba up to $1 billion in credit lines to pay for Brazilian goods and services. "We can provide the Cubans with a level of comfort in the transition ahead by not being confrontational like the United States," said a Brazilian official.