Fading Lula Magic: Brazil’s Shifting Political Landscape

He denigrates Zelensky and praises Maduro’s Venezuela. Those who admired the Brazilian president no longer find themselves there.

Founded in 1821 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazilian diplomacy has always enjoyed great prestige due to its professionalism and a recognized tradition of pragmatism. But today, the magic no longer operates. In question: the statements of President Lula, who returned to business a year and a half ago. In the electoral campaign, already, in May 2022, the hero of the Latin American (and French) left had described Volodymyr Zelensky as a “guy” who wanted to make himself interesting. At the same time, Mariupol was collapsing under Russian bombs.

During the recent G7 in Japan, of which the Ukrainian president was the surprise guest, Lula distinguished himself again: he is the only head of state not to have risen to greet his counterpart. Shortly before, in April, he had declared in China that the United States should “stop encouraging war” by delivering arms to kyiv. In the process, Lula had received with honors the Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergei Lavrov in Brasilia. White House reaction: “Brazil echoes Russian and Chinese propaganda.” Thus vanished the ambitions of Brazil, which hoped to play a role of mediator in the resolution of the conflict started by Putin.

Last week in Brasilia, again! During the reactivation of the Union of South American Nations (Unasur, created in 2008, moribund since 2014), the Brazilian rehabilitated Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro, whose only difference with a right-wing dictator is that he is from LEFT. Then he publicly rejoiced at this “historic” return to favor. Above all, he described as “narrative” the accusations of authoritarianism against Maduro – who is responsible for the exodus of 7 million Venezuelans.

The war in Ukraine, the end of access to Russian oil and the abundance of Venezuelan heavy oil undoubtedly demand a certain pragmatism. This is also the attitude of Washington, Brussels and Paris, which are timidly reconnecting with Caracas. But one thing is the art of realpolitik; another is to become the “dir’com” of a head of state who has shot thousands of students, killed hundreds, and imprisoned as many opponents. Uruguayan President Luis Alberto Lacalle Pou (centre right) says he is “surprised that what is happening in Venezuela is likened to a ‘narrative'”. His Chilean counterpart Gabriel Boric (left), reminds him that “human rights violations in Venezuela are a reality”. Lula, for his part, is disappointing.

This article is originally published on lexpress.fr

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