Brazilian Lula well received by Latin American leaders

During his first full day as President of Brazil, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva was meeting with Latin American heads of state reflecting the region’s desire to see the country assume a greater role on the international stage.

RIO DE JANEIRO — Latin American leaders converged on Brazil to meet President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva on his first full day in office on Monday, welcoming him to power and hoping his country assumes a big role on the international stage.

Lula’s predecessor, Jair Bolsonaro, rarely traveled abroad or received visiting heads of state and found himself increasingly isolated.

But South American heads of state – many of them on the left – have clearly welcomed Lula’s third term and want greater participation from the continent’s biggest economy.

“It was a very powerful symbol of desire in the region that the leaders wanted Brazil to come back,” said Oliver Stuenkel, professor of international relations at the Getulio Vargas Foundation, a university. “Latin American leaders want an active and engaged Brazil.”

In the first half of Monday, he met with Argentinian Presidents Alberto Fernández, Luis Arce of Bolivia and Guillermo Lasso of Ecuador, and is then expected to meet Chilean Gabriel Boric and Colombian Gustavo Petro. Others also traveled to the capital, Brasilia, on Sunday and congratulated Lula on his inauguration.

On Monday afternoon, Lula is due to meet Wang Qishan, the vice president of China, by far Brazil’s biggest export destination. Although Bolsonaro has toned down his attacks on China in the second half of his administration, it is important that China engages with Lula’s administration and ensures that Latin America’s largest nation remains a true partner, said Stuenkel said.

Lula is then due to receive the Angolan president and representatives from Cuba, Venezuela and Peru.


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