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Brazil Ambassador visits Utah

SALT LAKE CITY —Fresh from meeting with President Barack Obama in Washington D.C., Brazil's U.S. ambassador shook hands with a young Brazilian native who moved to Utah seven years ago.

"It's an inspiration for me to meet these kinds of people," said 24-year-old Marcio Carvalheiro, the marketing director for Brazilian American Chamber of Commerce. "I want to be one of the people that will be the connection to the U.S. and Brazil in the future."

Brazil's U.S. ambassador, Mauro Vieira, will visit with members of Utah's Brazilian community, leaders of the LDS Church, business leaders, college students and others before he leaves Utah for Chicago Wednesday.

"I'm very glad to be hear," Vieira said. "This is my first trip to this region and to Utah."

Vieira took the post of ambassador to the U.S. in January 2010 and said he plans to visit as many states as he can, especially those with strong Brazilian ties.

"The U.S. is a huge country, I don't think I'll be able to visit during my period in Washington to visit all the states," Vieira said. "But I'll concentrate where we have either a big important Brazilian community or important business relations."

Utah has both, Vieira said, referencing the 12 to 15 thousand Brazilians in the state and a Brazilian company in Lindon Utah. When Vieira met with Lt. Governor Greg Bell earlier Monday, they discussed further plans to strengthen business relations including an upcoming Bell plans to make with a business delegation.

As Brazil prepares to host the soccer World Cup in 2014 and summer Olympics in 2016, Vieira said he'll also visit with Utahns who helped organize the 2002 winter games. During a recent visit to Brazil, Obama and Brazilian leaders signed a "memorandum of understanding for exchanging the experience of mega events."

"It's very timely to be here and to see some of the initiatives of local government to receive the Olympic games," Vieira said. "Here in Salt Lake you had a great experience in organizing the winter Olympic games and I think that this is a very good occasion to meet with people involved in the organization."

Vieira will meet with the first presidency of the LDS church Tuesday morning and will visit several church sites including Temple Square, the Humanitarian Center, Welfare Square and the Family History Center before dining with leaders of the Church in the Joseph Smith Memorial Building.

"The church is present in Brazil for many years," Vieira said. "It's a very important institution because through the church a lot of the citizens of the state of Utah have had contact with Brazil and with the Portuguese language. I was very much surprised to see how many people here (pointing around the dinner group) speak Portuguese and speak fluently, excellent Portuguese.

Vieira will also speak to students at the University of Utah Tuesday and spend a few hours at Brigham Young University Wednesday before leaving Utah.

"We hope we can deepen the ties between the state of Utah and Brazil," said Cory Leonard, assistant director of BYU's David M. Kennedy Center for International Studies. "I think it will be pretty impressive for him to see the commitment we have to the language, people and culture of Brazil."

E-mail: sgarn@desnews.com