Brazil’s Minister of Agriculture was taken to São Paulo’s Sírio-Libanês hospital on Friday for treatment of a brain tumour.
Mendes Ribeiro, of the Partido do Movimento Democrático Brasileiro (Brazilian Democratic Movement Party – PMDB), was diagnosed last month with a probable recurrence of the tumour that was removed in 2007, and underwent an operation to have it removed early on Saturday morning.
Mendes, 56, has only been in his post since August, when his predecessor Wagner Rossi was forced to stand down amid allegations of corruption. He is expected to return to work within ten days, with executive secretary Jose Carlos Vaz assuming his duties in the meantime.
On Saturday, BBC Brasil reported that they had obtained a copy of a letter sent by Foreign Minister Antonio Patriota to his Venezuelan counterpart, Nicolas Maduro, re-affirming Brasília’s support for its neighbour’s Human Rights record.
Patriota was moved to write to Maduro after Brazil’s ambassador to the United Nations, Maria Nazareth Farani Azevedo, appeared to criticize the lack of judiciary independence and press freedom in Venezuela in a speech to the UN’s Council on Human Rights.
Azevedo’s criticism was interpreted in Caracas as a shift in the tone of Brazil’s relations with its neighbour and Patriota, after meeting with President Rousseff, felt it necessary to clarify that she was expressing her own opinions and that these did not reflect Itamaraty’s official line.
The Venezuelan ambassador in Brasília, Maximilien Arvelaiz, confirmed to the BBC that, following Patriota’s letter, there had been no cooling in relations between the two countries.
In Rio de Janeiro on Sunday, some three quarters of a million people dressed in white joined the city’s 16th annual LGBT Pride parade on Copacabana beach.
With the groundbreaking decision earlier this year to recognise same-sex marriages an extra cause for celebration, the crowd – estimated at over 700,000 people – focused its message on calls for an end to homophobia in Brazil and, in particular, for the enactment of legislation which would see it outlawed in the same manner as racial or religious discrimination.