The leader of Brazil and Guyana met Monday to inaugurate a border bridge that is expected to boost trade between the giant South American country and the Caribbean.
The $5 million Takutu River Bridge, paid for by Brazil, opens a trade route between landlocked areas of the country's interior and Guyana, a nation on South America's northeastern shoulder that is more aligned with the Caribbean.
Guyana is the headquarters for the 15-nation Caribbean Community trade bloc. At the ceremony in the Brazilian town of Bon Fin, Guyanese President Bharrat Jagdeo said the lack of more direct trade links has long stymied trade between the trade bloc and Brazil.
"This is a dream come true after more than a generation of anticipation," he said.
Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva said experts from his country will visit Guyana within weeks to discuss paving the 350-mile (560-kilometer) jungle road connecting the bridge with Georgetown, Guyana's seaside capital.
"We are integrating Guyana and Brazil bringing prosperity to our people," Silva said.
Traffic began crossing the bridge nearly two months ago but Monday's ceremony was billed as its formal commissioning.