Relations with Latin America represent "the top priority" for her administration, Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff said Wednesday during the swearing-in of new Foreign Minister Luiz Alberto Figueiredo.

Brazil "must always give its best ... to its Latin American brothers," the president said.

The South American giant is Latin America's largest economy and ranks sixth globally.

After decades "marked by cruel and long-lasting dictatorships," Latin America is reaping the benefits of "political modernization, in a world full of ethnic and religious conflicts," Rousseff said.

Brazil, she said, "is proud of the Union of South American Nations and the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States," mechanisms she called "essential for economic growth and the strengthening of democratic institutions."

Referring to her new foreign minister, the president touted his more than 30 years of service in the diplomatic corps, his "negotiating ability" and knowledge of environmental issues.

She said of outgoing Foreign Minister Antonio Patriota that "Brazil could not do without his experience and knowledge" and therefore confirmed that he has been named the South American country's ambassador to the United Nations.

Patriota resigned on Monday after Bolivian opposition Sen. Roger Pinto, who faces corruption charges in his country, snuck into Brazil with help from Brazilian diplomats. EFE