Buenos Aires, Argentina:
Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva announced Tuesday that his country “has returned to the region” after joining more than a dozen other Latin American leaders at a summit in Buenos Aires.
Less than a month after taking office, Lula traveled to Argentina’s capital looking to rebuild bridges after his far-right predecessor Jair Bolsonaro withdrew from the group.
“Brazil has returned to the region and is ready to stand with you with a very strong spirit of solidarity and closeness,” the 77-year-old leader said at the second Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC). seven. summit, bringing together 33 countries.
Lula, who previously served as president of Brazil from 2003-2010, was one of the founders of CELAC during the first “pink wave” of leftist political changes on the continent more than a decade ago.
But Bolsonaro pulled Brazil out of the group because of what he saw as its support for the undemocratic governments in Nicaragua, Venezuela and Cuba.
Lula spoke on Tuesday about the “many crises” affecting the world – from pandemics to climate change, geopolitical tensions, food insecurity and threats to democracy. .
Lula, the only leader to make her speech public at the summit, said: “All of this is happening against a backdrop of unacceptable increases in inequality, poverty and hunger. .
Democracy and its threats – especially from the far right – were the main theme of the summit.
“We cannot allow far-right stubborns and fascism to put our institutions and people in jeopardy,” said the forum’s host, Argentina’s centre-left President Alberto Fernandez. opening table.
He pointed to riots by Bolsonaro supporters in power seats in Brasilia earlier this month and a plot to assassinate his vice president, Cristina Kirchner, in September.
But Fernandez made no mention of communist Cuba or accusations of political oppression against radical leftist regimes in Venezuela, Nicaragua and Bolivia.
In fact, attended by Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel, Fernandez called for an end to the US-led blockade of Cuba and Venezuela.
“It’s a corrupt method of punishment, not of the government but of the people,” Fernandez said.
– ‘Latin America is bankrupt’ –
Host Argentina this week hailed a “new climate in Latin America”, with the region ushering in a new wave of left- or center-left governments since 2018 – including Mexico, Argentina, Honduras, Chile , Colombia and Brazil.
As a forum for consultation and cooperation, CELAC has no power to enforce any agreements between its members.
And while Fernandez stressed the need to “strengthen our regional institutions,” CELAC is having a hard time uniting members in the face of successive regional crises, such as in Peru.
Ignacio Bartesaghi, an international relations expert at the Catholic University of Uruguay, told AFP: “Latin America is bankrupt from an institutional point of view.
“There isn’t even a certain basic consensus in Latin America, as to the difference between a democracy and a dictatorship,” he insisted.
“There are presidents (at CELAC) who don’t even recognize each other,” he noted, referring to situations such as Mario Abdo Benitez of Paraguay, whose country broke off diplomatic ties with Nicolas Maduro’s Venezuela in 2014. 2019.
– ‘No dialogue’ –
Maduro canceled his trip to the meeting at the last minute, citing the “risk of aggression” from the “neo-fascist right”, possibly a reference to calls by some Argentine opposition politicians to be arrested. hold him on arrival.
He was due to meet with Lula on Monday, who spoke with Diaz-Canel instead.
He sent a message to the forum criticizing the “criminal sanctions” against his government, especially against state oil company PDVSA.
Other significant absentees from Buenos Aires include Mexico’s left-wing President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, leader of Latin America’s second-largest economy and host of the last CELAC summit in 2021.
However, CELAC is still the partner chosen by China and the European Union to negotiate when cooperating with the region.
Bernabe Malacalza, a researcher at the national research center CONICET Argentina, said the most recent EU joint summit, in 2015, showed a lack of consensus in the region.
In this sense, the return of Lula could spur some sub-regional issues, such as the free trade agreement between the EU and the Mercosur group that includes Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay.
The deal was finalized in 2019 but was never ratified, especially due to concerns about Bolsonaro’s environmental policy.
Lula has shown a willingness to resume contact.
Meanwhile, Uruguayan president Luis Lacalle Pou has proposed a free trade area extending from “Mexico to the south of South America.”
(Except for the title, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from an aggregated feed.)
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