BUENOS AIRES On the first international trip of his third term, President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva insisted on speeches with a revanchist and electiontactical tone, nodding to the PT’s grassroots and stroking authoritarian regimes in Latin America. In its international engagement, the PT reiterated its defense of leftist agendas, but when it took office it declared that Brazil needed pacification and unity.
For two days on the official agenda in Buenos Aires, where he attended the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (Celac) summit, the PT criticized his predecessor, Jair Bolsonaro, saying that the impeachment of Dilma Rousseff was carried out by Congress under the Oversight by the Federal Supreme Court (STF), was a slap and asked for “a lot of affection” in relations with Cuba and Venezuela. This Wednesday, 25th, he travels to Uruguay where he meets right winger Luis Alberto Lacalle Pou.
Fernández met Lula at the Casa Rosada. Photo: reproduction
For pundits, Lula made a difference on Bolsonaro by strengthening ties with Argentina a country under attack by his predecessor while keeping militancy alive by complaining about the former president’s behavior in public speeches. As Brazil is characterized by polarization, the PT defeated Bolsonaro by a narrow margin (50.9% to 49.1%).
“Lula is still trying to find a balance between internal and external discourse. When Lula first became president, it didn’t have the digital dynamics that we have today and it was easier to hold international speeches within a certain framework, these speeches spilled less into everyday political life,” said Guilherme Casarões, Political scientist and professor at the Getulio Vargas Foundation (FGV).
Now, in his opinion, there is a demand from supporters for the president’s positions, in addition to the larger impact of events outside the country. “Lula has a less PT government than previous governments. For this reason, he uses the opportunities he has to consent to militancy, including international ones,” said Casarões. For him, Lula was “expected” to continue his criticism of his predecessor, “especially given what happened on the 8th” when the headquarters of the three powers were targeted by coup plotters.
This Tuesday the 24th, Lula mentioned the episode in a speech at Celac. “I would like to take this opportunity to thank each and every one of you who have sided with Brazil and the Brazilian institutions over the last few days to reject the antidemocratic acts in Brasília. It is important to emphasize that we are a peaceful region that rejects extremism, terrorism and political violence,” the PT said.
However, the president did not refer to countries like Nicaragua, Cuba and Venezuela, which according to the criticized Bolsonaro government were the reasons for leaving the bloc: “Throughout the Brazilian governments, since redemocratization, we are trying hard and with a sense of mission for regional integration and the consolidation of a peaceful region, based on relationships of dialogue and cooperation. The unfortunate exception has been in recent years, when my predecessor made the inexplicable decision to withdraw Brazil from CELAC.”
Lula met with Cuban leader Miguel DíazCanel. During Celac, the PT member praised Brazil’s “return” to the international stage.
On Twitter, Lula highlighted relations with the communist regime in Cuba as an example when he posted a photo with DíazCanel: “Brazil is reestablishing its diplomatic ties in the world.” According to Casarões, this leftwing solidarity was also expected.
However, the speech, aimed at internal militancy, is not exclusive to Lula. Bolsonaro also adopted the strategy at international events, for example to denounce a supposed rise of communism.
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“By criticizing[Bolsonaro]Lula is actually trying to draw a clear line between the two internationally, but obviously everything is working for the domestic public. When Bolsonaro went to the United Nations, he made a speech that was aimed entirely at the national public and ignored the international plan,” said Rodrigo Prando, political scientist and professor at Universidade Presbiteriana Mackenzie. “Lula, on the other hand, has the political ability to work internationally, without forgetting that this resonates with supporters and grass roots in Brazil. Bolsonaro took an isolationist stance. Lula, no.