President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva (PT) dedicated his first day in office, this Monday (1/2), to bilateral meetings with heads of state. The Brazilian representative received 11 foreign delegations at the Itamaraty Palace.
Despite replaying protocol speeches, talks with heads of state focused on issues such as closer diplomatic ties between countries, Brazil’s return to the international stage based on its presence in regional forums and multilateral summits and prioritizing the climate agenda.
Argentine President Alberto Fernández defended that he sees President Lula as a “regional leader” and hailed the PT’s return to government as a sign that the country will also return to regional forums and give impetus to Latin America.
The Argentine, a Petista ally, said that the last four years under Jair Bolsonaro’s (PL) government represented a difficult moment for relations between the two countries, but that this is over.
“Argentina and Brazil are two indissolubly united countries and no political moment can disturb that,” Fernández told the press after the meeting. He also confirmed the official visit of the Brazilian representative to Buenos Aires on January 23.
Lula bilateral meetings (3)
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Lula meets Chinese delegation
In the morning, the Brazilian President opened the agenda with the King of Spain, Felipe VI. Then he met with the President of Bolivia, Luis Arce; from Guinea Bissau,,, Umaro Sissoco Embaló; and from Ecuador Guillermo Lasso; except Fernandez.
In the afternoon, Lula had bilateral meetings with Vice President of China Wang Qisha; the President of Colombia, Gustavo Petro; and the President of Chile, Gabriel Boric. He later spoke to Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa of Portugal, Honduran President Xiomara Castro and representatives of the government of Gabon.
Chilean President Gabriel Boric highlighted issues such as strengthening democracy, fighting fake news and defending science as common priorities for both countries. During the conversation with Lula, the chairman defended Venezuela’s reintegration into the multilateral scenario.
“In order to find solutions, it is important to reintegrate into multilateral circuits. Problems cannot be solved by isolating countries, but by reintegrating them and strengthening democracy,” he defended.
According to Boric, he and Lula have discussed how they can work together to ensure Venezuela has a “perfectly legitimate” electoral process in 2024. “The current government [venezuelano] have to reach an agreement with all sectors of society,” he concluded.
The Chilean leader also said the two nations are working to develop a joint mechanism for socioeconomic empowerment, as well as environmental protection policies to curb deforestation in the Amazon and the melting of Chile’s glaciers.
Amazon and drug trafficking
Colombian Gustavo Petro said he and Lula had made a “pact to save the Amazon rainforest.” According to the head of state, issues such as green energy, environmental protection and a policy to combat drug trafficking at the borders were discussed at the meeting.
“A great pact to save the Amazon jungle for the benefit of humanity. Towards Drug Policy Change; a Brazil that guarantees peace in Colombia and the study of America’s electrical connection to clean energy sources”.
Like Petro, President of Bolivia Luis Arce said that he and Lula reached an agreement to “deepen a broad agenda of work for the good of the people” focused on issues such as energy cooperation, border issues and the fight against illegal acts transnationally.
“Today in Brasilia we met with the new President of Brazil, Brother Lula, with whom we decided to deepen a comprehensive agenda of work for the benefit of our peoples, covering border issues, gas, electricity, urea, investment and trade.”
Brazil is Bolivia’s main trading partner and the main destination of Bolivian exports. According to Itamaraty, relations with the country are considered a “priority” by the Brazilian government.
Guilhermo Lasso from Ecuador also pointed out that the first meeting with Lula revolved around the same issues that guided the South American meetings: national security, fighting crime at the borders and protecting the forest.
“In the same way, we emphasize the importance of protecting the Amazon, the lungs of the planet and a key axis of our government plan. We agree with the interest in restoring areas affected by mining activities,” he added.
Early in the afternoon, Lula received a letter from President Xi Jinping from Vice President of China Wang Qishan. According to the president, the message expresses “greetings” and a desire to expand cooperation between the Chinese leader’s countries.
“China is our largest trading partner and we can continue to expand relations between our countries,” Lula wrote.
Marcelo Rabelo de Sousa, President of Portugal, defended that the new government represents the return of a “multilateral Brazil” and the country’s return to the “international stage and organizations”. He added that having a Brazilian government active in the international community is “greatly missed”.
In addition to traveling to Buenos Aires in the second half of January to attend the Summit of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (Celac), Lula has scheduled official visits to the United States and China during the first three months of his government.
About 120 countries were represented at the ceremony with the presence of ambassadors and presidents. A total of 65 delegations attended the event almost three times as many as at the last Presidential inauguration of Jair Bolsonaro (PL).